Harriet Harman has never given any evidence of being a political thinker of any great depth or indeed of any great consequence.She always appeared to be in the right place at the right time and demonstrated the knack that so many in the Parliamentary Labour Party have of not upsetting too many people.
The closest I ever came to her was once in the Commons car park when Tony Clarke and I were waiting for a taxi when Phil Hope, the shining pale pink MP for Corby pushed past us to climb into a cab with the memorable excuse:
"I'm off to a party at Hattie's!"
Such comradeship at the heart of the Labour Party.
That encounter with the elite of the Party however does not detract from the witch hunt that is being carried on against Harman by the odious 'Daily Mail'.
The fact that she was the legal officer for the NCCL in the 1970's merely indicated the route to parliament that many aspiring politicians took in those days, and was in fact a far more honourable and useful route than the political assistant,intern and party hack route so favoured today.
NCCL was ,and indeed is still, the sort of organisation that civilised nations always need.It is true that in the 1970's there was a libertarian tinge to the organisation, and in many ways it was imitating the American trends for outrageous extremism,but that does not detract from the good work that it was undertaking in the fields of human rights,anti-racism,against homophobia and all the other causes that required a progressive stance.
Inevitably some oddball fringe elements crawled in under the 'libertarian' banner, and its worth remembering that many of them were quite right wing and reactionary.
NCCL as a campaigning group for civil liberties had often to defend the rights of quite unsavory individuals and even groups.
I have no doubt that PIE(Paedophile Information Exchange) was no more than five men and a dog(and I bet the dog was not a willing member!) but as so often happens with self promotion,they bullied their way in.
Gay Liberation as a movement was just finding its feet in this country and was under constant virulent attack from many quarters-not least the 'Daily Mail', it has many other things on its collective mind to worry about -and the five men and a dog pie outfit was low on the priorities.
And if it was low on the GLF priorities, it was almost certainly far lower on the paid officers of NCCL's agenda.
Harman has nothing to apologise for, and indeed even if she had,who would she apologise to,and for what exactly.On that basis should the family of Thatcher apologise to the victims of Jimmy Savile for hugging the old brute in public?
The most interesting aspect of the 'affair Harman' to my mind is the contrasting coverage given this week to her and Peter Bone, the right wing xenophobic Tory MP for Wellingborough.
Credit to 'The Times' for bringing out the story of the Police investigation into Bone's alleged criminal behaviour in defrauding the County Council of many thousands of pounds in benefits for his mother-in-law's care in a nursing home.
If the CPS decide to bring charges, then that is far more significant an event this week than Harriet harman's alleged pecadillos over 30 years ago.
Strange how silent the 'Daily Mail' appears to have been on that story!