POLITICS

Theresa May Must Stand Up To Trump's Virus Of Misogyny, Urges Harriet Harman

Labour's former Deputy Leader told May to cancel the state visit

31/01/2017 15:29 | Updated 31 January 2017
Jack Taylor via Getty Images

Theresa May must stand up against the “virus of misogyny” coming from Donald Trump and cancel his state visit to the UK, Labour’s Harriet Harman urged today.

The party’s former Deputy Leader this afternoon held nothing back as she attacked the US President for his attitude towards women.


Trump has faced accusations of groping women, and during his election campaign a decade-old recording surfaced of him saying he could grab females “by the pussy” as he is famous.

Harman, who is the longest continuously serving female UK MP in history, told the Prime Minister to stop engaging with Trump in “traditional ways” as he had torn up the political rulebook.

The Camberwell and Peckham MP, who has been in Parliament since 1982, also issued a warning to her own party that people will not vote for Labour just because they are fed up with the Tories.

In a speech at a Press Gallery lunch in the Commons, Harman spoke out against “the virus of misogyny that is coming from the States with Donald Trump.”

She said: “Donald Trump thinks that women are there to be pushed around and she [May] has got to show him that she is not going to be pushed around.

“It’s no good her referring to the traditional ways of doing things.

“Basically, he has torn up the old rules, she’s got to recognise that it’s a new situation now.

“We are in post-protocol politics. It’s no good doing it the old way and she should show that she’s a woman who will stand up for herself and stand up for this country.

“She should take back control and cancel that visit.”

May invited Trump for an extravagant state visit to the UK during her meeting with the US president last week.

The offer took on a greater controversy when just hours later Trump signed an Executive Order which cancelled America’s refugee programme and banned travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries for 90 days.

On Monday night, thousands took to the streets in London, Manchester and other UK cities to oppose the trip, and a petition calling for it to be cancelled now has 1.6million signatures.

As well as insisting the visit should be scrapped, Harman said Trump “is like the political equivalent of the global financial crisis: there’s no point waiting for it to creep up on you, you have to realise it’s serious and jump ahead of it.”

PA/PA Archive
Harriet Harman standing for Parliament in 1982

Harman’s appearance at the Press Gallery lunch was to mark the publication of her memoirs ‘A Woman’s Work’.

The book reflects on the struggles and successes of the women’s rights movement throughout her lifetime, including the 15 years she spent as an Opposition MP before Labour’s General Election win in 1997.

She also had two stints as party leader on an interim basis following the resignations of Gordon Brown in 2010 and Ed Miliband in 2015.

Harman told an audience of journalists, MPs and political workers that Labour had much to learn from its days in the wilderness during the 1980s.

She said: “People pointed to where we were strong and reassured ourselves that things were going well. They weren’t, because even though we were building up some strength in Labour areas the marginal were turning themselves into Tory strongholds.

“We have got to learn that people did say we would never again be the party of government, that we would come third behind the Lib Dems but actually we did learn the lessons we needed to learn and we did actually get into government.

“We did recognise that actually if you just shout at people then actually they’re not interested. We’ve got to start listening to people.

“It’s no good thinking that the public have got to change, we had to wake up and realise the fact that we needed to change.

“The idea that people will just get fed up with the Tories, well, they had got fed up with the Tories, but they needed to trust us.

“The idea that if people suffered they would then turn to Labour, they would not - unless they thought that Labour was led by somebody who would actually solve their problems instead of making them worse.”

Other revelations in her speech included:

  • Harman believes Gordon Brown should have made her Deputy Prime Minister when she became Labour’s Deputy Leader in 2007. Instead, he scrapped the position entirely.

  • At the first Cabinet meeting of Gordon Brown’s regime, the Deputy Leader’s normal spot of sitting next to the Prime Minister was axed without explanation. Justice Secretary Jack Straw instead sat in the seat, and Harman was relegated to the far end of the Cabinet table.

  • At a meeting of the G20, Harman was invited not to the main event, but to the wives’ dinner instead.

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