James Forsyth

Harman: The expenses crisis is going to get worse

Harman: The expenses crisis is going to get worse
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Having ruled out in almost Shermanesque terms standing in a leadership contest this side of the election, Harriet Harman is now one of the kingmakers. In an interview with the Guardian magazine, she makes a couple of key points. First, she’s clear that we haven’t reached the end of this crisis yet:

“And there's still more to come out - there's the office costs, then there's the travel, so we're still in the process. I think the distrust is going to deepen”

But she also rejects the idea of any instant constitutional reform, which is likely to be how Brown attempts to turn the page on a disastrous set of European and local election results:

“Until such time as the public join in with that discussion, it's not one worth having. And at the moment they don't want to be joining in. You can't even begin to have a discussion with somebody about" - she adopts a silly voice - "'Oh, let's renew our democracy' when they wouldn't want to talk about it to us. Bob doesn't want to be having a discussion about how you'd engage in all the wider issues, because that trust has got to be rebuilt first, before people will engage in how we can use this moment to strengthen democracy. Democracy is not for us, it's for them. And until they're prepared to have a discussion with us about how we renew democracy, there's no renewing to be done."

Restoring trust with Brown at the helm is going to be a nigh-on-impossible task for Labour. A change of leader, however, would make that a more realistic aim. Whether Harman accepts this analysis, though, is a different question.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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