Thursday 24 August 2017

Harriet Like Harman

On Radio 4 this morning the ghastly Harriet Harman was looking back over her career in an interview with the ever courteous Peter Hennessy. It was the usual self-justifying spiel - The Perils of Little Hatty in the World of Big Nasty Men - and the only 'revelation' was that she now believed she would have beaten Ed Milliband to the Labour leadership if she had stood. Why didn't she? Well, by that time, you see, her self-esteem had been so thoroughly ground down by the patriarchy that it didn't occur to her that a woman, a mere woman, could hope to beat all those men. Yeah, sure.
 What struck me, though, as I clung to consciousness, was that Ms Harman has taken to dropping the word 'like' randomly into her discourse, in the manner of an inarticulate teenager rather than the QC she is. Does she realise she's doing this? Is it deliberate, a feeble attempt to sound like one of the common people? She never quite managed the full glottal stop (unlike those masters of the dropped 't', Messrs Blair and Osborne) - too nicely brought up, I daresay - so perhaps she's simply gone for the, like, easier option. I do hope she doesn't keep it up.


  1. Ignoring your first paragraph with the contempt it deserves, I also found myself wondering if the Labour Party had been giving its leading lights lessons in modern 'English'. And you don't even mention that HH also used, many times more than once, the 'me and him' (as subject) form adopted by so many these days, including journalists. I would have been thoroughly whipped (metaphorically that is) if I had ever used anything other than the 'he and I' as I grew up.

  2. Speaking as an outsider (from over the pond), I don't know if HH is ghastly or not. There is a simple test we should apply to all politicians, Brits and Yanks, however - what did they do? what are their achievements? did they make the world a better place? How does Ms Harman stand in relation to these fundamental questions? their linguistic tics don't bother me much.

  3. Thanks Josquine - I hadn't noticed the deplorable 'me and him's. I was finding it hard to stay fully conscious...
    Newman, I think the answer to your Q is, in HH's case, nothing very much. By her own account she fouled up repeatedly - but of course she only had to pay the price of her incompetence because she's a woman.

    1. Oh dear. If people like you don't notice, e.g. 'me and my friend's, then I think there is little hope. I've given up the rear-guard battle on another misuse of 'like', for 'as if'...

  4. Drop the 't' for orfentici'y!

  5. She has put much energy and thought over the years into making the UK a much less congenial place for women like her mother and I.