Harriet Harman becomes country’s longest-serving female MP after 34 years

News Desk (22 December, 2016) Politics

Harriet has seen seven Labour Party leaders come and go

13536Harriet Harman MP in her office in Portcullis House

After 34 years, MP Harriet Harman has broken the record of the country’s longest-serving female member of parliament.

The MP for Camberwell and Peckham broke the record on December 16. She succeeded the previous record held by the late MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, who died in 2008.

Harriet was elected on October 28, 1982, in a by-election for the seat of Peckham before it merged with Camberwell. Seven party leaders have served during her time, while she has spent 28 years “on the front bench”.

The political veteran twice served as interim-leader before Ed Miliband became leader in 2010, followed by Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. She also served as deputy prime minister for Gordon Brown, and as deputy Labour leader under Miliband.

Speaking to the News last month, Harriet said the highlight of serving the constituency was opening children’s homes in local neighbourhoods around the borough.

“Being able to see kids playing and learning, and seeing mums going out to work. The whole spread out of children’s centres was a brilliant thing to see,” Harriet said.

Her “low point” were seeing the shocking waiting lists for heart surgery at Guy’s Hospital in the eighties.

Asked why she had not campaigned to be elected as Labour leader, Harriet said she “felt like I had done my bit”.

She also said it was “too early” to say when she would stand down, and that she had “made a commitment to the people who voted for me in 2015”.

Harriet was congratulated by neighbouring Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes on Twitter.

“Thank you for the huge difference you have made, especially for women x” Helen said.

Southwark Council leader Peter John said: “Congratulations to brilliant & inspirational @HarrietHarman on becoming the longest continuously serving woman MP. A real record breaker!”

The longest-serving MP is Sir Gerald Kaufman, Labour, who continues to serve since his election in 1970.

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