Open Letter To Harriet Harman

Jessica Ormerod and Deborah Harrington have some advice for the Labour deputy leader.

Have we really not moved on since 1953? Take one look at Harriet Harman and her pink campaign bus and you’d be forgiven for thinking we haven’t. The idea that Labour are going to sweep up the mummy vote with a pink bus and a patronising wink from Harriet as she talks woman to woman would be laughable if it weren’t so vomit-inducing.

Since the coalition stumbled into power we have all been the losers, but women and children have been hit the hardest. Labour are neither saying nor doing anything to stop the horrific effects of austerity on the most vulnerable in our society.

I can tell you, Harriet, just what keeps us women folk up at night. Like you, I live in South East London. Unlike you, my children go to the local comprehensive school and over the last few years I have seen families made homeless by the wicked austerity agenda. An agenda that your party defends. To use the patronising parlance of government, these are ‘hard-working families’ who have been turfed out of their houses because the landlord has decided to ride the property market and sell the flat, leaving families with no recourse but to pack their bags and go to the housing office. Because there is no housing stock left in Lewisham, these families are re-housed in the appalling conditions of so-called ’emergency accommodation’, often far from their jobs and their children’s schools. Mummy lies awake listening to the drug addicts and alcoholics shouting at each other in the room next door, worries about the three buses they will need to get to school the next morning, worries if she’ll even be able to get on the bus because if there’s one pushchair on there already the driver shoos you away. And anyway, everyone will have to be up at 5am in order to make the journey of 5 miles because buses are late, buses get stuck in traffic and there’s always a walk at the end with three miserable, tired children who might not have eaten because, and here’s another worry, Harriet, there’s not enough money for everyone to eat breakfast.

Women bear the brunt of plummeting household finances, they go hungry to keep their children fed, they take their children to hospital, they work zero hour contract jobs, they get beaten up by their partners and have nowhere to go…

So, Harriet, let’s talk about what women want:

Housing

Women, and especially women with children, are most affected by the unaffordability of decent homes. They are more likely to have inadequate incomes and suffer from draconian reductions in benefit. Don’t just talk about building more homes, talk about what kind of homes. Council homes at council rents sounds good. Don’t use that awful term ‘affordable’ which mostly is only marginally less affordable than current market prices. How about decent jobs in areas where homes are standing empty so people can live happy lives there?

Childcare

Don’t offer more ‘free’ hours and vouchers, these have led over the last 20 years to the cost of nursery places in England being the highest in Europe – put more money into any given area of the private sector and the prices go up (but not always the standards). Build on local council provision instead, or provide more kindergartens attached to primary schools.

Social care

Do something urgently about the drastic reductions in local authority social care budgets which hit women harder than anyone. Women already provide a lot of the care for the generations below and above them, and what support and relief they were getting has been torn away by this government.

Health

Women bear the children and also tend to look after their household’s health. If they suffer inadequate housing, low wages, failure of local provision of service, their health suffers – and then who looks after the children?

Domestic violence

Where can we take our children to be safe from abuse now that the refuges have been savagely cut?

Education

I want to send my child to a normal state comprehensive but I am faced with an array of foundation schools, academies and free schools that I don’t trust and I don’t like.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I say, get out of your bus and get real about what is actually happening to women: to their children and their partners; to their everyday lives. Don’t tell us what we worry about – ask us and we’ll tell you.

We want a new politics. We want a healthy NHS. We want a better Britain.

5 thoughts on “Open Letter To Harriet Harman”

  1. just had to reply – an excellent letter – although I am campaigning for a Labour government – but if Labour gert inand don’t implement what you are suggesting I will leave and join NHA party – I wa so disappointed last time in 1997 with New labour – I hate the way this country is now run

    jenny

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m am a Labour member and firmly believe that we too should ditch the Tories along with the austerity measures

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that pink bus was ridiculous.

    Some people were claiming the Tories were blowing it out of proportion but to me it brought back memories of that No campaign advert in Scotland targeting women.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. i am a Labour supporter and i will be voting for Labour ,,,this is a great letter Harriet and i hope you read it and take on board what has been written because the writer has hit the nail on the head ,,,the majority of women i know have been through or are living these horrors every day ,,,you have the power to make change and positive change ,,,it has to happen and fast the families being affected by this government are helpless ,,,lost and no doubt frightened ,,,enforced poverty is unforgivable ,,,but its happening in this country right now to 1000s upon 1000s of people living in this country ,one of the richest in the world ,,,all parties right now should feel shame ,people are dying and steeling for food ,,,it has to end and i hope it dose in May x

    Liked by 2 people

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