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Summary Article: Harman, Harriet from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

UK centre-left Labour politician, deputy leader of the Labour Party 2007–15. After the Labour election victory of 1997, she held a succession of posts in the Labour governments, including social security secretary 1997–98, solicitor general 2001–05, and a minister of state in the Department for Constitutional Affairs 2005–07. In June 2007 she was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party. A long-time ally of Gordon Brown, who became Labour Party leader and prime minister in June 2007, she returned to the cabinet holding simultaneously five posts: Lord Privy Seal; leader of the House of Commons; secretary of state for equalities; minister for women; and party chair. After Labour's defeat in the May 2010 general election, she became acting party and opposition leader until Ed Miliband was elected Labour's new leader in October 2010. She went on to serve as shadow secretary of state for international development 2010–11 and shadow secretary of state for culture media and sport 2011–15. Following Miliband's resignation after Labour's defeat in the May 2015 general election, she again became acting party and opposition leader before Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour's new leader in September 2015.

She was born in London and educated at St Paul's Girls School, York University, and Brent Community Law Centre. After graduating with a law degree she became a legal officer with the National Council for Civil Liberties 1978–82. She entered the House of Commons in 1982 as MP for Peckham (Camberwell and Peckham since 1997) and served on the opposition front bench as shadow minister in a variety of posts 1984–97. When Labour came to power in 1997, Tony Blair appointed her secretary of state for social security, with a brief to reform the welfare state. She made little progress and faced criticism in 1997 for announcing cuts in benefits for lone parents. Despite her close political links with Prime Minister Blair, she was dismissed from the cabinet in the re-shuffle of July 1998. In June 2001, she became the first female solicitor-general, but did not return to the Cabinet until June 2007.

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