Harriet Harman is the new deputy leader of the Labour Party, after a seven-week contest to replace John Prescott.
The 56-year-old justice minister pipped favourite Alan Johnson and four other MPs to win the ballot of party and union members, Labour MPs and MEPs.
She got 50.4% of votes to Mr Johnson's 49.6% after all the other contestants' second preferences were reallocated.
She will also become party chairwoman, Gordon Brown announced as he succeeded Tony Blair as Labour Party leader.
Mr Brown, who takes over as prime minister on Wednesday, paid tribute to Ms Harman as he accepted the leadership unopposed.
The deputy contest used a complicated system where the last place candidate was eliminated in a series of rounds, and their second preferences reallocated until one contender got more than 50% of the vote.
In the first round she was first choice among Labour Party members, second choice among MPs and MEPS, but the fifth choice of union members.
Ms Harman did not take the lead or pass the 50% mark until the fifth round of voting when she overtook Mr Johnson, as more of Jon Cruddas's backers put her down as their second choice.
She told the BBC: "It was a close race, but I'm delighted to have won it."
Ms Harman, the wife of senior Transport and General Workers' Union official - and Labour Party treasurer - Jack Dromey, has close links to Mr Brown.
Her election completes a remarkable comeback from 1998 when she was sacked from Mr Blair's first Cabinet after public disputes with her minister Frank Field.
Despite that setback she managed to return to the Labour frontbench in 2001 when she became the first female solicitor general. She told the conference it was an "honour and a privilege" to be elected and to serve alongside Mr Brown.
Ms Harman talked about the achievements of the Labour government over 10 years, paid tribute to Mr Blair and her predecessor Mr Prescott, who she said would be a "very difficult act to follow" and thanked her fellow contenders.
She also told the conference the government should acknowledge the anger felt over Iraq, but at the same time support British troops.
She pledged to be "relentlessly focused" on winning the next general election, by appealing to a broad base of voters, from Middle England to Labour's heartlands.
And she added: "Labour is and must remain the party of the family. I have always tried to be a champion for women and as deputy leader that is what I will do."
Later she told the BBC that the victory had meant a "great deal" to her, adding: "I always thought that the right leadership team for the Labour Party was one that encompassed the north and south, that was the balanced team of a man and woman working together."
During the deputy leadership campaign she had called for an end to the "culture of spin".
On Sunday she reiterated calls to make announcements to Parliament first, adding: "I think it is really important that we turn over a new leaf now."
Mr Johnson, who came a close second, told the BBC he was not disappointed for himself, but was disappointed for his campaign team.
He said Ms Harman would be a "very good deputy leader" adding: "I think there was a big view in the party that it needed to be a woman."
Earlier Mr Prescott, who has been both deputy leader and deputy prime minister, said his successor should concentrate on revitalising the party - not on holding a Cabinet post.
It is seen as unlikely that the two roles would be combined again.
Indications are that Commons leader Jack Straw - who has run Mr Brown's leadership campaign - would get some of the responsibilities of the deputy prime minister's job, but there would not be a deputy PM.
While Mr Brown was the sole contender to replace Mr Blair, there was a more crowded field for the position of deputy leader.
International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, Labour chairwoman Hazel Blears, backbencher Jon Cruddas, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and Education Secretary Alan Johnson all took part in the contest.
Harriet Harman campaigns for the Labour Party deputy leadership
He discusses neo-endogenous growth theory, she talks about her "foolproof" recipe for asparagus tart. He is the state school-educated son of the manse, she has aristocratic links and went to private school. He talks about his moral compass, she belongs to a group of women ministers who call themselves The Volupts. "Gordon Brown is Radio 4," says Harriet Harman, "I am Radio 2. Together we make 360 degrees."
Miss Harman does not have any T-shirts saying: "Hats off to Hattie" or a heart-rending working class heritage but she is the rising star of the Labour deputy leadership contest. A poll of swing voters showed that she and Mr Brown were the most appealing combination. "Different people talk to different audiences," she says. "There are Labour Party members in Bournemouth and Winchester, not just the cities, Scotland and Wales."
Brownites, including Yvette Cooper, Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander, are backing her but she insists she is not the Chancellor's favourite. "I'm standing as a woman in my own right," she says. "I've spoken less to Gordon recently than I have for 25 years. The country needs Gordon to be prime minister and Gordon needs me to be his deputy."
When Miss Harman won her Parliamentary seat in 1982, she was pregnant with her first child - "I was one of 10 women Labour MPs, now there are 97," she reminds us. Now, her children have left home and she has time on her hands. There is no spin-doctor at HHHQ, as Miss Harman calls her tiny office. The justice minister answers her own phone and texts journalists with campaign updates. "Jack [her husband Jack Dromey, a trade union leader] is not waiting for there to be dinner in front of him or he'd be well starving," she says. "There must be a woman in the top team. You can't say you want equality but not at the top."
As deputy leader, she would try to bring out the Chancellor's feminine side. "Gordon will never be shallow, he won't ever be fluffy, but he will show himself," she says. "Politicians discussing their underwear and being touchy feely should be banned - do you want to be touched and felt? But that doesn't mean politicians don't have to show themselves. People need to be able to see Gordon, they want to know their prime minister, and he will understand that."
After the criticisms of Cherie Blair, she feels sorry for Sarah Brown. "It's difficult for people to work out the role of prime minister's wife. Whichever way you do it you are in the wrong. If you work you're a failure as a mother, if you stay at home you're dowdy. But they don't need a dress allowance for goodness sake, they can go to Primark."
If Miss Harman becomes deputy leader, her spouse will not insist on driving a few yards to protect his hair, as Pauline Prescott once did. "Jack hasn't got any hair to blow around, I'm afraid," she says. Nor will the MP for Camberwell and Peckham be caught playing croquet at Dorneywood - "I don't think we should have any grace and favour houses." Mr Brown would no doubt approve. Miss Harman believes the next prime minister's austerity will appeal to voters turned off by cash-for-peerages and freebie holidays. "People will be thinking - what are things like for my family, at the school or hospital? They want their prime minister to tackle the big issues. For the other stuff they can have Paris Hilton."
She admits that Mr Brown's emphasis on duty may become a bit exhausting, but she says: "He's not saying people have to have a moral compass, he's saying he has one."
There must be a change of style in No 10 when Mr Brown arrives, according to Miss Harman. "It's got to be no spin, no briefings, no secrets, no factions, respect for Parliament." This could be difficult for a man described by colleagues as a control freak. "Gordon does listen, he's hungry for new ideas. There have been enough times when I've been right and Gordon hasn't that I can stand up to him. If he sometimes doesn't look laid back that's because he's restless for change."
As Labour's in-house feminist, she has been campaigning for 25 years on issues including child-care, maternity leave, flexible working hours and domestic violence. "People always said don't focus on that sort of stuff, you'll be stereotyped but I can't help it."
Now she is turning her attention to the pressures on people caring for children and elderly relatives. She says there should be a right to paid time off work to look after old relatives. "Women who in the previous generation wouldn't have worked are now working full or part-time, they haven't got as much time to pop in every day to see the elderly mum is all right. We've got to help people find time to support the older generation and bring up children."
Miss Harman does not mind if she is not made Deputy Prime Minister. In fact, she says: "I don't think the job of deputy leader is compatible with a big department \u2026 There are certain jobs - leader of the House, Cabinet Office, chairman of the party - which you could combine." This may be because, by her own admission, her time running a department - as social security secretary - was not her most memorable achievement. "Across people's lives there are some times when things have worked well and some times when things have worked less well," is how she puts it.
She was, though, furious to discover that a Cabinet minister had questioned her intelligence. "What matters is not your intellectual formulation but whether you do things that make a difference. Women are used to being called stupid, you don't feel belittled by it, you just have to shrug and get on with it."
For her, being deputy leader would be the perfect way to carry on her campaigns. "I don't want to have to explain it all to a new leader and deputy leader, I know what needs to be done, I just want to do it."
The Volupts: "Women of a certain age who are worried about our weight, who've forgotten what colour our natural hair is - but we're voluptuous," she says, throwing her head back and laughing uproariously.
Harriet Harman on Women and Equality
Send the innocent down regardless
The Right Honourable Harriet Ruth Harman QC MP (born 30 July 1950) is a British solicitor and Labour politician. Since 24 June 2007, she has been the Deputy Leader and Party Chair of the Labour Party. On 28 June 2007 she was appointed Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Seal and Minister for
Women and Equality, and later also Secretary of State for Equalities on 26 July
2007. She still however retains her role as Minister for Women bringing her total number of jobs to five.
Family: Married, three children
School: St Paul's Girls School, London
Political hero: Rosa Parks
Good night out/in: Get together with the family, with me cooking
Hobbies: Cooking, family get-togethers
Favourite book: We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
Best thing on TV: 24
Bad habits: Watching the news too much
Something we don't know about you: After 25 years in politics there is very little
ANATOMY OF A STITCH UP:
Set against a background of increasing pressure to gain convictions, many police officers fail to investigate fully for fear of finding inconvenient truths, which they will then have to pass to a defense team during the discovery process.
The fact is it is all too easy to put an innocent man behind bars where a blunderbuss serious of charges, often used in sexual assault cases, make it all but impossible to mount a defense with alibis for specific events claimed.
In most cases an allegation grows like a pyramid, once the system kicks in. Unfortunately, at each stage of the process, the allegation grows as it is passed from one person in the chain to another, each adding their own interpretation and filling in the blanks, so to speak.
Where an allegation has been made (which is often the case) by a young girl or boy who may find him or herself in an uncomfortable family situation, which could be a combination of loneliness, stress from school work, social stresses from friends, or lack of them, not feeling important or feeling ignored. Sometimes just being bored or mischievous, or simply bearing a grudge - the child will often pander to the attention they are suddenly receiving, and sometimes they are simply bunny boilers, out to ruin someone they feel abandoned by...... It's a win, win situation for the accuser, with no comeback at all if found to be lying!!! They can simply move onto the next target, or go about life as usual - since nobody knows who they are. Should there not be a register of accusers?
The policies of Labour's Harriet Harman, Minister of State for Women, are designed to raise conviction rates is sex related cases, regardless of evidence. This has resulted in many more appeals and innocent men being freed, having been convicted on little or no evidence. It begs belief that such cases are brought, considering the irreversible harm caused to the victim, in these case the person defendant.
In many cases (number unknown) innocent men are rotting in jail, since there is no appeal for them unless fresh evidence surfaces, which may only happen once a bunny boiler repeat offends. Otherwise, there is no justice for men. A point overlooked by Harriet in her rush to up statistics for voters.
A - Z of Sussex officers
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