What Harriet Said And What Harriet Meant

John Rentoul

hh 300x214 What Harriet Said And What Harriet MeantLabour was embarrassed at PMQs by David Cameron reading out something Harriet Harman had said on LBC yesterday. But if you read the full transcript, helpfully provided by the Conservatives, it would seem that she was trying to explain why middle-income people pay more in tax than those on lower incomes.

Embarrassment over.

Questioner: I would like to know what you are going to do to help the middle classes of England, Britain. I really do feel the middle class contribute the most and take out the least. I will be honest I am a staunch Conservative, hand on heart but if Labour came up with one policy that would genuinely help me out I would vote for them.

Iain Dale: Like what?

Questioner: Well my suggestion would be if I lost my job the government would pay, say I have been working for 2 years the government would match my wage for 3 months afterwards. Give me some security.

Harriet Harman: Well I think that is a very interesting point actually Henry because sometimes people feel that they pay in a lot over a long period of time working hard but when they suddenly need unemployment benefit if they lose their job that actually it is nowhere near enough to actually make them feel that it was worth it for them to contribute. And one of the things that we are talking about is making a higher rate the longer you’ve worked to recognise the contributions you’ve paid in if you lose your job. But I would say Henry one of the things that I would argue that might, should probably make a really big difference to you is having a really good health service. Because you don’t want to have to pay for health insurance., You don’t want to have to pay to go private to get really good healthcare system. And I think that is not just for working class people it’s for middle class people as well. And the same with education, you know, really good school system that helps people from lower income families and middle income families as well so I think that actually the idea that there are some things that help people on low incomes and other that help people on middle incomes. Yes I think people on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes. But actually they need those public services like the transport system.

She clearly meant that people middle incomes pay more than people on low incomes but that they also get a lot back. It was a defence of the progressive principle rather than of higher progressive taxes.

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  • Pacificweather

    Very true but it is for party and media consumption only. The public saw through her during the Blair government. She was also very patronising to Henry in the interview. Another of her traits.

  • Pacificweather

    When Labour left office in 1979 it had been criticised because unemployment had risen to 1.2 million. In the eighties and early nineties we would have been pleased to see figures that low. We would be pleased to see them that low today. Both parties have presided over the destruction of the economy in their time. If there is something that can be done to assist that process you can be certain one of the parties will select it as a policy.

    As for Ms Harman, she’s a senior politician, that’s what they do. By now, I doubt she even realises she is doing it. I paid for ERS during the whole of its existence. When I needed it, it had been quietly removed. Both parties are crooks and thieves. I want my money back.

  • Ciaran Goggins

    Hazza is typical ZaNuLabour. She has had Peckham since 1982, it was a slum then, it is still one now. Oh well at least there is no anonymity for rape trial defendants.

  • Ciaran Goggins

    Don’t be silly Constable Reid. Milidiot is unelectable as leader. Great news that Nicky Jacobs acquitted eh?

  • greggf

    “And one of the things that we are talking about is making a higher rate the longer you’ve worked to recognise the contributions you’ve paid in if you lose your job”

    Chas – This is a principle that other countries, more or less, use to determine certain welfare payments. However, rather than politicians, actuarial control would be preferred.

  • greggf

    “…..because she was starting to make 4 million people unemployed then she moved a million of them to disability benefit to hide the extent of that unemployment.”

    Yes Pacific I remember it well!
    I used to live in the North East then and many miners were out of work for one reason or another and over 50 years old . Finding new employment in the growing financial industry in the South which Mrs T promoted was unlikely. So, it was well known that such older claimants were put on long-term disability by the local GPs while other health-related claims, e.g. pneumoconiosis, were chased.

    A similar thing has happened when Broon came to power and as a result of the financial crisis and since. This time the shift appears to be from disability, unemployment pay and income support to housing benefit – and it’s got increased under the coalition.

    What goes around comes around!


    You must be aware that you are not comparing like with like. The entry of women into the labour market since the 80s (all over the developed world) has moved the goalposts on unemployment as has very generous housing benefit. But ignoring that and even allowing for the increase in population, the proportion of the population in employment is at or near a peak in the UK. Based on your previous contributions, your remark ‘both parties have presided over the destruction of the economy’ is definitely not one of your better days. The current UK’s low unemployment rate is near the top of the international league (I accept it is still reduced by disability registration). You may also argue that nearly every other developed country has destroyed its economy too but you would find it difficult to argue that credibly. The UK’s position in the unemployment context has definitely improved in recent years. You should have used a different measure to associate with the description ‘destruction of the economy’, there are quite a few available.

  • Pacificweather

    You have made all my arguments for me and for you but you resist the logical conclusion. Perhaps that is because economy destruction is always a temporary phenomena. It will bounce back even though the Bank of England has estimated that this time the cost was £7.4 trillion. Probably an exaggeration by bankers who love big numbers. Unemployment had been so low for so many years that 1.2 million seemed a large number to many. Given the economic circumstances at the time I though it was not excessive. I was convinced the Tories would increase it, which proved correct. Last time I looked we had 2.2 million unemployed but we don’t have double the working population. We may have to agree to disagree.

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