Polling for the Labour leadership election ends today, with the result being announced on Saturday afternoon. I will look forward to this, and even if, as looks likely, my candidate fails, it will still be an exciting event, as we look forward to the direction our new leader is aiming to take us.
The five candidates will line up, expectantly, all hoping they have defied the odds to come through, or at least, confirm their positions amongst the perty heirarchy. Of course, poor results, especially for Ed Balls, or either Miliband, would end their prospects of leading the party in the future, if things go badly over the next year or so.
However, there is one person missing from the field, and it is someone of whom, I never thought I would find myself saying this, and that is Harriet Harman. I would like to take this occasion to pay tribute to the way she has led the party through this difficult period, and defied many expectations.
Ever since circumstances decreed Harriet was to become acting leader of the party, she has done so with verve and humour. It proved a steep learning curve, as in her first PMQ's against Cameron, she chose to go on anonymity of rape suspevcts, an important personal issue for her. But since then, she has stepped aside from these issues, and chosen to attack the government on the policies they are enacting, as well as the occasional pointing out of discrepancies betwenn election statements and actions.
It was quickly evident that Cameron had a lot of respect for her, and also a liking, an aspect missing from his duals with Gordon Brown. This was demonstrated by the fulsome tribute he paid to her at her final PMQ's as acting leader. But, there had been a couple of occasions when he had asked why she wasn't running for the leadership. Even allowing for a bit of mischeif making on Mr Cameron's part, it became a genuine question as time went on.
Harriet's leadership has been exemplary, and showed what someone can do, once the opportunity arises. She has demonstrated that if she ever had become leader, she was more than up to the job, as I said, something I never thought I would say. She has also held the government to account, without a clear direction. The coalition have kept on saying that Labour haven't provided alternatives, yet, only a truly stupid government, would expect a party to be able to do that, when in the middle of a leadership election. Harriet, rightly, felt unable to speak on behalf of the party, other than to present alternative views we had campaigned on in the election, because she felt she did not have a mandate to do so. That position will change from Saturday!
So thank you harriet for all your efforts over recent months. I hope you will continue to serve the party in the combative way you have over the years, and continue to fight for the things important to you, even if we don't necessarily agree.