A woman labour leader?
By Alison Clarke
Is it possible that Harriet Harman could become leader of the Labour Party? Is it even desirable? Just because she's a woman does not mean she is the best person for the job.
But by all accounts she thinks she is and is currently positioning herself to take over if Labour loses badly in the June elections for the European Parliament or after a 2010 general election defeat.
According to an article in today's Guardian by Nicholas Watt, Harman saw her chance after Labour's defeat in last year's Glasgow East by-election and has been manoeuvring ever since.
Her high profile comments about Sir Fred Goodwin (the disgraced ex-chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland) over the weekend have only served to confirm the rumours.
Harman went further than any other minister in denouncing Goodwin's pension deal and even seemed to suggest that the Government would claw it back, whatever the legal position. (Some of his pension is part of a contractual right, which he could enforce through the courts).
The prime minister was forced to distance himself from her remarks, saying that any action it took against Goodwin would have to be within the law.
Harman herself deserves some respect, however. An MP for more than 25 years, she was sacked by Blair only a year after being appointed the Secretary of State for Social Security in 1997, allegedly for not being able to cut it. Now the deputy leader of the Labour Party, she is in a prime position to challenge an increasingly unpopular Brown.