Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

Oh bloody Hell!

And so it's Harriet Harman for Deputy Leader.

I would be glad, in the abstract, that they elected a woman were it not for the fact that I do not especially care for her.

As always, there is a reason for this and it is probably an unfair one.

Back in the mists of the time, Harriet Harman was working at NCCL as Legal Officer and I was a volunteer there. Volunteers are not especially highly thought of at Liberty, as NCCL now is, and I am probably the only former volunteer to have subsequently been Deputy Chair of the organization.

In those days, trans people in prison were not allowed to have their hormone prescriptions, which was a fairly obvious piece of double punishment, mostly instituted to reduce possible causes of sexual tension in the prison population. I knew about a case of this - Linda, who was one of the Soho street crowd, had been busted for fishing for fur coats through ventilation windows with wire coat hangers she had picked out of a skip. (She had been more successful than you might expect and they charged her not only with the thefts but with going equipped, which was a bit rich in the circumstances.

Anyway, she was quite upset not to be getting her pills and I heard about it on the grapevine.

Since I was doing what trans-related case work there was, I thought it fell in my remit.

I wandered into Harriet's office and told her about the case.

'What do you expect us to do about it?' she said dismissively.

'Well,' I said, 'I was going to try and plant a story in the Guardian. I've got Linda Gold's permission to do that and I have a few press contacts.'

Harriet, and Patricia Hewitt who was also in the room, looked at each other and shrugged. Neither of them tapped their foreheads meaningfully, but it was clear that their world-view did not allow for newly-transitioned volunteers having contacts or being efficient.

She muttered something about doing whatever I thought best.

So I got the story into the Guardian, via my old chum Martin Wainwright, with whom I had been friends at Oxford, and the Prisons Department were embarrassed and changed their policy.

And Harriet and Patricia were annoyed with me, because I had done what I said I'd do.

It was clear that they really had not believed I could possibly affect anything, so they had not bothered to get upset with the idea that I might get the organization involved with something they were not sure they approved of.

And I had not bothered to argue with them, because I suspected something of the kind and wanted to present them with a fair accompli once I had got notional permission.

I didn't stay on as a volunteer very long after that - I had other things to do and I was in bad odour.

And that is why I don't much like Harriet Harman.
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