Harriet Ruth Harman (born 30 July 1950) is a British solicitor and Labour Party politician who has served as the Member of Parliament since 1982, first for Peckham, and then for its successor constituency of Camberwell and Peckham since 1997. She has served in various Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet positions and, in her role as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, she has served as the Acting Leader of the Labour Party twice and Leader of the Opposition: from May to September 2010 and from May to September 2015; and remains the only politician to have held this position on two separate occasions.
Born in London to physician John B. Harman and his wife Anna, a solicitor, Harriet attended St Paul's Girls' School and obtained a BA in Politics from Goodricke College, University of York. She qualified as a solicitor and worked for Brent Law Centre from 1978 to 1982, when she was elected MP for Peckham in a by-election following the death of sitting Labour MP Harry Lamborn.
Promoted to the Shadow Cabinet by Labour Leader John Smith, she served as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1992–1994) and then as Shadow Employment Secretary (1994–1995), Shadow Health Secretary (1995–1996) and Shadow Social Security Secretary (1996–1997) under Smith's successor, Tony Blair.
Under Blair's leadership, Labour won the 1997 general election in a landslide, he became Prime Minister and Harman was re-elected for the new constituency of Camberwell and Peckham. Blair appointed her as Secretary of State for Social Security and the first ever Minister for Women, serving until 1998; when she left the Cabinet. In 2001, she was appointed Solicitor General for England and Wales, serving until 2005 when she became Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs.
In 2007, Blair resigned as Prime Minister after ten years and John Prescott resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Labour Leader. Harman ran in the subsequent deputy leadership election and defeated five other candidates, ultimately winning over Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson by 50.43% to 49.56%. Gordon Brown, who was elected as party leader, appointed Harman Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Seal, Minister for Women and Equality and Labour Party Chair. However she was not appointed Deputy Prime Minister.
She held all of these government positions until Labour lost the 2010 general election. Upon defeat, Brown resigned as party leader and Harman became Acting Leader and Leader of the Opposition until Ed Miliband was elected leader. She subsequently served as Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, combining the position with that of Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (2010–2011) and then Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (2011–2015). After Labour's defeat at the 2015 general election, Miliband resigned as Leader of the Labour Party and Harman once again became Acting Leader and Leader of the Opposition. She announced that she would also resign as Deputy Leader, prompting a concurrent deputy leadership election, which was won by Tom Watson.
Harman holds the record as the longest-ever continuously-serving female MP in the House of Commons. She is married to former trade union leader Jack Dromey, who became Treasurer of the Labour Party in 2004 and MP for Birmingham Erdington in 2010. They have two sons and a daughter.
Also known as