KEITH NEWBERY How Harriet taught me a new word

I have few reasons to be grateful to Harriet Harman, but at least she was responsible for teaching me a new word.

Everyone knows a misogynist is a man who hates women and I’d rather hoped misterogynist could be used to describe a woman who hates men.

It seemed to make sense, but this is the endlessly convoluted and irrational English language we’re talking about.

So when this proved not to be the case I was ready to launch a campaign for the word ‘harmanist’ to be adopted, when somebody much cleverer informed me that a suitable word already existed – misandrist.

This was unfortunate for Ms Harman because few politicians have the honour of seeing their name immortalised as part of the mother tongue.

We still speak of ‘Churchillian speeches’ and it may not be long before ‘Gordon Bennett’ – the physical embodiment of a swearword – is amended to Gordon Brown.

But there is one other whose name has entered the lexicon with a vengeance – Margaret Thatcher. Indeed, such was the impact this woman made that her name was freely adapted – and not normally in a complimentary fashion.

There is the abstract noun ‘Thatcherism,’ the adjective ‘Thatcherite’ and I’ve seen the proper noun ‘Thatcherist’ used on more than one occasion.

Ms Harman, who obviously has a degree in social engineering, has dedicated much of her Westminster career to furthering the prospects of women. She has shamelessly advocated several varieties of ‘positive’ discrimination, apparently unaware that it is the greatest insult she could pay to members of her own sex.

The implication is clear; the female of the species would be unable to make their way in life without having the dice loaded in their favour – and this is where we come back to Margaret Thatcher.

Whether you agree with her politics or not, no-one can deny she set the standard for women to succeed in a stultifyingly male environment. You might think this would make her something of a role model for Ms Harman – but you would be wrong. When Thatcher once approached her in the Commons after she had breast-fed her baby, she turned away lest the prime minister’s eyes fell upon her first-born.

That’s the sort of mature attitude we need at Westminster.

* The varnished truth

Rory Weal made a fine impression at the Labour Party conference.

Delegates and party leaders alike were enraptured by his tale of woe in which he described the hardship he and his family had endured after their home was repossessed. “We had nothing. No money, no savings and only the benefits system to fall back on,” he told delegates.

It now transpires the truth may have been tweaked somewhat. His father was a millionaire property developer whose business went bust, leaving Rory, his mother and siblings to slum it in a £300,000 semi-detached in Maidstone.