Chris Moncrieff: Why Harriet Harman should be Labour leader

WHY on earth did Harriet Harman not stand for the leadership of the Labour Party? She would easily outshine the dull and unimpressive bunch now fighting for the crown.

Harman has been acting leader since Ed Miliband scuttled off after the party’s general election defeat on May 7.

And she has shown herself to be far more than a mere adequate stand-in. She has
coped well with David Cameron during Commons exchanges, which is more than Miliband ever did.

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She has demonstrated, too, that this will be – to use her own expression – a “grown-up” Opposition, that will not necessarily vote against every single Government proposal purely because it is Tory.

But, alas, she has had to backtrack somewhat in the face of outrage from many thoughtless Labour MPs who ridiculously believe that every dot and comma of Conservative policy must be opposed, irrespective of its merit or otherwise.

It remains a mystery why Harman, who is such a fervent campaigner for women to be at the top, did not throw her hat into the ring.

Meanwhile, some of the candidates themselves appear to be in a state of shock over the advances that hard-line left-winger Jeremy Corbyn has made during the campaign.

Some have said that if he wins they would not serve under him and also that they would not appoint him into a post in their own shadow Cabinet.

How foolish and embarrassed now must those short-sighted MPs be feeling who helped to nominate Corbyn on the grounds that all wings of the party should have their say in this campaign?

Did it not occur to these dunderheads that the way to stop the hard left from getting a foothold would have been not to nominate him in the first place?

Apparently not. What chumps they are!

BORIS Johnson is by no means the force of nature in the House of Commons that he is as Mayor of London.

His “second coming” into the Palace of Westminster at the last general election has proved to be an unhappy time for a man who thrives on bluster, wit and the television camera in close proximity.

The “killer” blow was the ruthless put-down inflicted on him by the Home Secretary Theresa May when she refused to allow the use of water cannons on the streets of London.

But he deserved every bit of it. Boris had stupidly wasted thousands of pounds of public money buying second-hand water cannons from the Germans without taking the elementary precaution of checking, before he embarked on this ludicrous purchase, 
that he would be allowed to
use them. How foolhardy was that?

He is reportedly now claiming that May and the Chancellor George Osborne are doing their darnedest to prevent him getting anywhere near the party leadership once Cameron has quit before the next election.

That may or may not be true. But he is certainly not helping his own advancement with brainless transactions of this kind.

Before the 2010 general election, Boris, as Mayor of London, was the most powerful Tory in the country. Now he is just one among hundreds.

THERE can never, of course, be a “right” time to give Members of Parliament a pay rise.

But to hand them a 10 per cent hike of £7,000 is no less than a kick in the teeth for those policemen, nurses and others employed in vital public services who are having to make do on one per cent,

MPs are already well paid (although they would never admit it) and giving them this huge rise merely reinforces the fact that being a legislator is no longer a vocation – which is what it should be – but quite frankly an overpaid job.

You would think that with so many people applying for every single seat at election time, the law of supply and demand would operate, and the pay would actually go down. But no such luck.

And those who sanctimoniously say (or in the case of SNP MPs are virtually ordered to) they will give the increase to charity – well, they are misguided.

If they don’t want it, they should hand it back to the people who pay them – you and me, the taxpayer. They simply have to write out a cheque to the Treasury who will take it back with glee.

What could be simpler?

JUST a reminder, if one were needed, of the profligacy of the European Union. Brussels is apparently spending £2m on a fine dinner service, complete with crystal glassware, silver cutlery and fine bone china to host banquets for visiting dignitaries.

What stopped them from going to Poundland?

Chris Moncrieff is a former political editor of the Press Association.