An Open Letter to Harriet Harman

Jo’s moving and humbling  letter to Harriet Harman: Previously published here

Dear Ms Harman,

Who am I to be writing to an important woman such as yourself? I am just a name amongst a sea of insignificant people, who dare to call themselves supporters of the Labour Party.

I am what the Tory party class as a “young person”, despite being 34. I am old enough to shape young minds, or at least that’s what teachers like me used to do before Michael Gove destroyed the education system, whilst the Labour Party looked on.

I am disabled, no longer able to do the job I love. Just another name to suffer under the sweeping destruction Iain Duncan Smith has wrought on the welfare state, whilst the Labour Party looked on.

I am on the housing list, deemed a danger to myself while I live alone in a non-disability-adapted property, but since the bedroom tax there’s nowhere for me to go. Just another person without a suitable home thanks to Kris Hopkins failing to build affordable homes, whilst the Labour Party looked on.

I am the daughter of a mother dying from Mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos whilst working as a teacher in the 70’s. We have the highest rate of Mesothelioma in the world. Michael Gove and now Nicky Morgan have failed to remove asbestos from our schools, whilst the Labour Party looked on.

I am a user of food banks, just another statistic forced to plead for food thanks to the disastrous delay in ESA and PIP ATOS assessments overseen by a callous Iain Duncan Smith, whilst the Labour Party looked on.

I am an NHS user who no longer has a fully operational local hospital. The Tories, like carrion-eating scavengers, have picked the carcass dry leaving destruction in their wake. Meanwhile Jeremy Hunt disrespects and bullies the phenomenal team of NHS staff who help me, whilst the Labour Party look on.

My question for you, Harriet, is when will the Labour Party stop looking on and actually act? Our party’s name should remind you who the party is supposed to be fighting for. What has happened to the party who fought for bread and roses? Losing the fight for roses was a painful blow but to no longer fight for bread is reaching a real low for the Labour movement.

I am a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn for next Labour leader. When I became disabled I thought the chronic neuropathic pain and a body that let me down would be the biggest challenge I would face. I never thought the biggest challenge would be to watch the Labour Party allowing the Conservatives to dismantle the welfare state I so desperately rely on. I am deeply concerned and more than a little disgusted by the attitude of senior members of the Labour Party toward Corbyn’s supporters and to the democratic process. Several MPs like Simon Danczuk, John Mann, Chukka Umunna and Liz Kendall have been less than respectful of the democratic process and of those of us who back Corbyn. Perhaps they would do well to remember what democracy means and that they are supposed to represent the wishes of their constituents not their own careers. Danczuk appears to be calling for a coup, which is ridiculous. After all, no coup came from Labour MPs when the Tories won with a far lower percentage of votes than Corbyn is predicted to win with.

There is constant hand-wringing and mutterings as the party comes to grips with losing the last election. Questions about how Miliband lost. The anti-Corbyn reaction from some members of the PLP shows why Labour lost the last election and were utterly routed by the SNP. The people of this country, the ordinary Labour supporters, feel that as a party you don’t understand or fight for us. You don’t see the upsurge of support for Corbyn as a sign that we are crying out for a party who support the ordinary folk against the Tories. A party that says, “Enough is enough. Those in need should be cared for with compassion!” A party that stands for hope not despair. For some of us, supporting Corbyn feels like we are fighting for our very lives. If the Labour Party doesn’t start to take a stand and defend the most vulnerable there will be more suicides. More disillusionment. More fear. Is that really the cause the Labour Party wishes to die fighting for?

As acting leader, we look to you to steer the ship, to remind the PLP why you need to respect the voters’ wishes. There are only a few entryists backing Corbyn, the majority of us are nobodies in the eyes of the party, but unlike the other candidates Corbyn sees us and welcomes us to be somebodies to change the landscape of hate and fear that so many high profile Labour members are actively promoting in the press. I urge you to remind the PLP to abide by the voters’ wishes. You said you wanted a democratic process. As a party you misread the mood of the country and the need for change, but that doesn’t mean that the democratic process itself was wrong. If you allow those who oppose Corbyn to actively refuse a democratic decision then you allow them to destroy the very foundation of the Labour Party. A betrayal of the electorate will only signify the end of a party that I and many others felt was still worth fighting for!

A Labour Supporter

Support Jo’s campaign for mesothelioma

25 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Harriet Harman

  1. I wholeheartedly endorse your blog, its sentiments as well as share your similar needs as a person with illness and disability and who needs a compassionate and functioning welfare state. the system was created to enable those who though circumstances out of their control, needed the state to assist them to exist in a wealthy and prosperous country. Despite the lies and misuse of austerity to try enable the tories to implement the savagery they have against the most vulnerable,i looked again at a new change and direction for the Labour Party, yes, the Labour Party, not New Labour, the party with socialist ideals and integrity. a party with a combative and honest socialist leader . Yes, i believe that jeremy corbyn can lead a party and attract back the solid core voters, as well as cater for some of the middle class who have also felt the brunt of welfre cuts, but are more soundly placed to cope. I accept being in power is how this is achieved, but unlike the number of MP’s who seem to be conspiring against Jeremy Corbyn already and talking about a coup, i know that there are so many young, sick, disabled , vulnerable, old, targeted real Labour supporters desperate to be led by a socialist with a priority to the core voters of poor, vulnerable voters- not business, bankers, hedgefund millionaires and wealthy privileged few who live in luxury and good fortune. We have so many voters who the party left behind for greener higher status placed pastures. I believe we can defeat these lousy rich elite in 2020, yes, business will frown on us and the newspaper proprietors will discredit and undermine, but was it ever thus. Should we care what Murdoch, Dacre, Desmond and other disreputable bigoted liars say or try to do to the party? If we have the core voters along this journey through to 2020, they are the priority. It shocks me how Blair and his obedient followers have responded with such undemocratic offerings and public threats, at a time, when the same vocal MP’s have been weak in their oppositiobn to Osborne’s welfare Bill and savage attacks by vermin!
    I have been shocked at the lack of discipline and rapid use of right wing media by some Labour MP’s, their eagerness to already write off the potential of who could be our next leader is unforgivable and contrary to everything Labour believes in. Why hasn’t the acting leader demanded explanations from the individual MP’s, Peers,and former Prime minister who have acted so anti democratically? Mandelson and Blair, Campbell and the MP’s have angered many members, I cannot understand how their actions and words hasnt led to suspensions, others have been dismissed from the party for much less.


  2. Jo, your message is unambiguous and to the point. I support every word and have Tweeted, LinkedIn and FB’s it for it needs the widest circulation. Just been to hear Angela Eagle and was inspired that she has grasped the nettle and is supportive of Jeremy’s policies. He has given me and thousands like me some hope that there is still a socialist Labour Party.


  3. I’d just like to say I support you and will also be voting for JC. The only thing I disagree with you on is that you call yourself and other people who suffer under the Tories nobodies. Your vote is as valuable and as powerful as the vote of a rich banker, lawyer or politian. You are someone and you will make your vote count. Thank you.


  4. I’ve tweeted this directly to the UK Labour twitter feed and to Harriet Harman’s twitter feed. I hope an awful lot of other people will, too. They need to start listening to their core voters before it’s too late.


  5. You reasoned perfectly and you speak for many. I have not personally suffered the full brutality of this Selfservative government but I hurt everyday for those that do and for the loss of humanity not just here but around the world.
    I truly hope Harriet and all of the Labour party read your open letter and understand you are not alone there are many of us that feel this way. Jeremy is the only one offering Honesty, Justice and Compassion, he is not working on his career defining moment he is genuine. What we are seeing is a true grassroots movement and Labour should be proud and embrace its new members not insult them.
    The Labour party fear they will lose if Jeremy is their leader and that they will spend years in the wilderness what they do not realise is that they will be completely finished if they continue to insult us and insist on riding roughshod over democracy with talks of a coup or dissent should Jeremy win.
    I wish you well & hope that we can achieve a better world for all.


    • thank you, It certainly seems that Jeremy is offering something that has been missing for a long time, an honest and unassuming politician who greets people the same be they prince or pauper. To quote Napoleon “A leader is a dealer in hope.” We all know that hope has driven Jeremy forward


  6. Excellent and so well and passionately put, encapsulating what so many of us are thinking and feeling at the moment. I;m tweeting Harriet Harman this, she is not a bad person, in fact I like and respect her, but as you say, she and others have seriously not only misjudged the mood of the Labour party, they have misjudged the move of this country (IMO)

    I stopped blogging regularly some time back. but am now thinking of starting again, Jeremy Corbyn has inspired me.

    Wonderful blog, very well said – Gracie x


    • thank you for reading my letter, and for your kind words. I don’t dislike her either but I am deeply disappointed by Labour doing nothing to defend the most vulnerable in this country. The party used to stand for something and now seems to stand for nothing. Belittling the electorate is not going to result in a labour win, particularly if you only stand against the popular candidate but not against the opposition.


    • thank you, I have been overwhelmed by the kind response I’ve had. People have send lovely messages and even donated to the fundraising I’m doing in honour of my mum, I’ve been blown away by the response to a letter I only thought would be seen by a few people at best. I’m not used to people listening to me. x


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  8. I fully endorse the letter sent to Harriet Harman I was brought up Labour by my father who worked in a factory I never supported New Labour to me they were just Tories in the middle Jeremy Corbyn is the only person I have heard talking like my father did expounding the core values of the Labour party ,which under the Blairites we were made to feel ashamed of, he speaks for everything my father and his mates in all the factories fought for, a decent way of life, and not being ground down by the Tories !


  9. I hope that Harriet Harman listens but I have no confidence that she will understand what she hears that this is in fact democracy at work. We, the envy of many other countries for our democratic processes, have the right to voice an opinion that does not slavishly follow our leaders how would change ever take place if we do not try and encompass all views. New Labour has gone too far in accepting the views of the more Tory minded middle classes and moved Labour policy towards satisfying their needs rather than the needs of the ‘Labour’ in this country.
    We should not apologise for wishing to implement policy which is fair for the majority, we should not appease and bribe the middle ground in order to make some small changes to help the majority. We should stand tall confident and proud working for the betterment of all, that is the aim . Yes, we need to be in a position of power to do this but just winning an election will not do if you have compromised on achieving those aims as the new Labour Party was want to do in the past. There is a difference between Tory and Labour fundamental values, I encourage my students to dig into the core values of each look at the meaning of individualism v collectivism apply it to situations in the country and the world today in order to understand politics . I think that maybe some of the PLP need to go back to school for revision lessons or maybe reconsider the direction they are going maybe they are on the wrong path with the wrong group!


  10. Pingback: An Open Letter to Harriet Harman | Me, myself and life in local politics...

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