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Harriet Harman interferes in a foreign general election

By Jonathan Isaby

HARMAN RED Imagine the outcry there would have been from Labour politicians six months ago if David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, had gone out and endorsed a struggling Prime Minister somewhere else in the world, a week before polling day in that country's general election.

Whilst British political parties of all hues have fraternal relations with like-minded parties around the world, convention states that senior party figures do not campaign in each other's national elections.

But the current Leader of the Opposition, Harriet Harman, seemed happy to defy that convention yesterday by endorsing the Australian Labor Party and in particular its Prime MInister, Julia Gillard, ahead of this Saturday's general election.

As today's Sydney Morning Herald reports, she turned up at the polling booth at Australia House in London where around 200,000 expats are entitled to cast their ballots:

If any further signs are needed that Saturday's poll will go down to the wire, a visit to the Australian High Commission in London should prove it.

The footpath outside Australia House on The Strand has been a hive of party activity for a week and yesterday, British Labour sent a special envoy in an 11th-hour plea for expat votes.

The acting Opposition Leader, Harriet Harman, issued a special message to the estimated 200,000 Australian in Britain who are eligible to vote, urging them to do so and ''give the women of Australia and the world a reason to put a spring in their step''.

''Australians form a fantastic part of UK life,'' she said. ''We are seeing now what the Conservatives are doing to risk the recovery. Vote and make sure this does not occur in Australia.''

Jason Groves, the President of the UK branch of the Australian Liberal Party tells me:

"The Australian Labor Party might regret its choice of guest at the polling booth: the comparison between British Labour and Australian Labor is not a flattering one.

"Both Julia Gillard and Harriet Harman were Deputy Prime Minister in governments that presided over a gross waste of public finances and caused huge economic damage. Indeed, I hope Julia Gillard will, like Harriet Harman, be a short-term leader of her party.

"I'm convinced that the example of the Cameron Government and the similar commitments to fixing the public finances given by [Liberal leader] Tony Abbott have led Australians living in London to vote for the Liberals in substantial numbers."