Monday, 30 July 2012

Harriet's Little Secret

In all the clatter of criticism on the one side and favourable comment on the other about Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Opposition there has been passing mention of the fact that she is a niece of the late Lord Longford.

But this is by marriage and not by blood.  Whether it has been more of a hindrance than a help in her political career is a question for the chatterati and not a very important one.

So let’s a have a look at the genes.  What I have never seen mentioned is that she is a descendant of the Birmingham family, before then London and Camberwell, the Chamberlains.  This may be known in Birmingham and Bermondsey circles but not much seems to have been said.

Harriet’s great grandfather, Arthur Chamberlain was brother to the famous Joseph Chamberlain, 1837-1914, above, the Birmingham local and national major politician (see Wikipedia) and uncle to his sons, Neville Chamberlain, who became Prime Minister and Austen Chamberlain, who many people thought should have had the job.

Joseph Chamberlain was another might have been for the post of Prime Minister whose role in the political turmoil of the 1880’s and 1890’s lost him the chance.  Often described as a “self made” man this is not quite the case.  Certainly, he did not attend either Oxford or Cambridge Universities.

But this did not mean that he was lacking in education or reading.  The Chamberlains were prosperous and active iron masters and their education lay in their trades, their religions and their connections.  Joseph built on the business success to become the leader of Birmingham, workshop to the world, and then a national politician.

Joseph and Arthur were close enough by birth and more so by marriage.  Arthur married Louisa Kenrick in 1870.  Joseph married first, Harriet Kenrick, her cousin who died tragically in childbirth, and then secondly Florence Kenrick, Louisa’s sister.  All worshipped in the Unitarian Church.

So if Ed Miliband stumbles in his quest to become Prime Minister and Harriet claims “Peace in our time” as with Neville Chamberlain, will she want to become Prime Minister to outdo those of her family who did not?

1 comment:

  1. Without a doubt and well able to give Milibad a nudge!