Harriet Harman has been successful in promoting women's equality during her tenure of deputy leadership. In recent developments, she calls for a woman to occupy either the deputy leadership or the leadership. I support her vision, as there should be a 50/50 split for men and women at the top of politics, however, in a man dominated political culture, it could easily just be included under another one of Clegg's 'aspirations'.
The idea is one that should not be ignored, however. Equally, it should be applied to the leader/chancellor position, as this is arguably another axis that needs to be more proportionate. Look at the three main party combinations at the moment: Labour - Brown/Darling, Conservatives - Osborne/Cameron, and Liberal Democrats - Clegg/Cable. This further highlights how there is still fundamental progress required to rebalance the political figuration of men and women in positions of power.
However, the current system conflicts with Harman's vision, as shown by how she believes there will never be a man only Labour leadership again. You only have to look at the power and sphere of influence Mandelson has to see that he is in all but name the deputy leader...
Whilst I am not in favour of positive discrimination overload, I believe that it is wrong for Ann Widdecombe to totally displace Harman’s 50/50 idea. There is a lot of merit to the idea; there are many talented women in parliament who are overlooked for top jobs (for example, chancellor). This however links to the systemic attitude of many top male politicians; even Brown has been shown by the Wags (Women Against Brown), to run a 'laddete' cabinet and government, which runs contrary to Harman's ambitions of equality for women.
It is not cynical to suggest that what this boils down to from Harman is that she is lining up for a leadership challenge, but it is a shame that as one of the most powerful women in politics at the moment she is not necessary seen as a credible candidate to replace Brown. She has the right ideas about women and equality, but she seems to have too many people within the Labour party and wider public who do not like the way she does politics.
However, I do think praise is due for Harman, as she consistently promotes women’s rights. Her idea of 'Gender 20' sounds promising, coming from a leading politician it personally gives me more faith in a male dominated political system that this week has depressed me somewhat.
If it came down to Mandelson or Harman as aTelegraph article suggested today, it appears as though the equality attitudes of Harman would be much more greatly needed than Mandelson's super pro business mentality, which exemplifies the masculine attitudes that politics is often caught up in.