Tag Archives: jenny willott

The spouses of Parliament. By that, the Telegraph means husbands of female MPs

The Telegraph reports on a Grazia magazine feature about “husbands of politicians.” It’s interesting because it captures some of the preconceived ideas we have about gender roles and stereotypes. And also because it features two people well known to us, Duncan Hames and Andrew Poole, Jenny Willott’s husband. It encapsulates the sacrifices that both Members of Parliament and their families have to make.

Duncan said that people are more likely to talk to Jo about their baby son:

After Andrew was born, the only thing anyone in Jo’s constituency wanted to talk to her about was the baby – and for me it was just nice if anyone did! When I first went door-knocking with him, typically, if a woman answered you’d have a conversation about parenthood there were a few men who kept their gaze firmly at eye level, just did their best to have this conversation as if the baby wasn’t there,” he recalls.

Duncan hopes that by trying to parent equally, they’ve paved the way for other couples.

“There are probably a lot of workplaces where, if dads take time out for things like children’s doctors’ appointments, there’ll be the underlying assumption: ‘Isn’t that what a mother does?’ It’s one of the barriers to equality. So those of us who don’t fear the consequences of doing this are, I hope, helping others by doing so.”

Andrew Poole describes how he and Jenny manage their time:

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Swinson and Willott hail start of shared parental leave – but this isn’t the end of the work to be done on this issue

I’ve always said that shared parental leave is one of those policies that ticks all the stronger economy, fairer society and opportunity for everyone b boxes. It’s an entirely liberal thing to give people the choice as to what is right for them and their family rather than have the state dictate it for you.

Today is the day that this policy, first passed at Liberal Democrat conference in 2009, becomes a reality. Jo Swinson, the Minister who took the legislation through Parliament, had this to say:

This is a momentous step forward for families and for parents in work. Shared parental leave can make an incredibly positive difference in a child’s life and help both mums and dads make the best decisions for them and their families.

Men and women will no longer be tied to what history dictates their traditional roles should be with mum holding the baby while dad goes out to work.  Parenting is a shared endeavour and now dads have the opportunity to spend more time with their new baby in those vital early weeks.

Shared parental leave is my proudest achievement in government, and I’m delighted that it is now a reality.

The Liberal Democrats are the driving force behind this change, and we’re pushing to go further in the next parliament. We want to champion the role of dads, and triple paternity leave, giving all fathers an extra month to spend with their child.

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Jenny Willott on the Twitter abuse she got after Inside the Commons

A couple of weeks ago, Ruth Bright wrote of her admiration for Jenny Willott after seeing her and her family on the Inside the Commons series. I can only echo her sentiments after finally catching up with the programme late last night. What I saw was a happy family eating together, making a difficult work/life balance situation work in a way that suited them. Of course, I did wonder why Parliament couldn’t schedule its votes in a more family friendly manner and, why, in the 21st century, casting a vote requires running across your workplace then standing in a lobby for quarter of an hour, but that’s hardly Jenny’s fault.

I was appalled to see, from her speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat conference, that she’d taken some Twitter abuse after the programme was shown, as WalesOnline reports. 

The Liberal Democrat MP jokingly described herself to party activists as “the one with the child who screamed the place down when I left him in the whips office and went to vote”.

She said: “I’m also the one who got completely vilified on social media for daring to be a woman who wants to both work and have children. It’s absolutely amazing how many people thought it was okay to tell me my children would turn into delinquents, that I wasn’t up to the task of being an MP if I was also thinking about my children, that my children should be taken into social services care… that I was letting down my children and my constituents etc.”

She continued: “It’s extraordinary to think that even in 2015 there are plenty of people out there who think that women can’t be both MPs and have children successfully – I don’t hear any of them suggesting that men can’t be both MPs and have children.”

Ms Willott said her experiences made her “even more determined to show them how wrong they are,” adding: “It also proves to me that we need to get more women elected overall to change attitudes.”

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Baroness Jenny Randerson writes…Optimism and determination of Welsh campaign teams is impressive

When I am travelling around Wales I take every opportunity as to go out campaigning with our Welsh MPs. Last week I was out knocking doors with Mark Williams and his team in Lampeter. I am a seasoned Ceredigion campaigner- I don’t think I have missed an election there in the last 15 years. So I know what to expect, and the atmosphere hasn’t changed. Mark is known by almost everyone and regarded with huge respect for his constant hard work in a constituency where local issues are particularly important.

In Brecon and Radnor the “Williams Team” are equally well known and Roger is particularly well established in the farming community. Campaigning in such a sparsely populated area is never easy and elections in B and R are not for the faint hearted. But once again we have the benefit of a well-liked and respected candidate and a strong local party able to support him.

Cardiff Central is about as big a contrast as you can imagine: it is geographically the smallest Welsh constituency but, as an inner city seat it has a big turnover of population. I live in the area so it is no surprise that I campaign there regularly. As a Labour facing seat it will obviously be very closely fought and Jenny Willott’s Labour opponent is particularly well funded as she is a Trade Union lawyer. Jenny and our team are working as hard as it is possible to do and, once again, her name is well known and her reputation for hard work is frequently mentioned. Labour infighting on the Council and their plans to close libraries and reduce bin collections have persuaded a lot of local people that they cannot be trusted. The core Lib Dem team in Central are experienced, tough campaigners, but there are also a lot of new members, many of them young, for whom this is their first general election as activists.

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Opinion: In praise of Jenny Willott

Jenny Willott, Ruth and Orla Bright, 2004The Liberal Democrats of course have a dismal record electing women, particularly women with young children. We have, therefore, to be truly thankful to Jenny Willott (and her family) for salvaging our reputation in a single television programme. Last night on Michael Cockerell’s “Inside the Commons” we saw her juggling work and motherhood in a way that has rarely been portrayed so honestly. Seeing her collect her son from the House of Commons nursery (and then having to leave him on the lap of a colleague while rushing to an unexpected vote) might have made parliament seem remote. In fact many parents would have watched that scene and been reminded of their own work/family balancing act.

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Cadan ap Tomos selected to fight Cardiff West in the General Election

Cadan ap ThomasWelsh Liberal Democrat Cadan ap Tomos has been selected to fight the seat of Cardiff West at the General Election.

Wales Online has the details:

Fluent Welsh speaker Cadan grew up in Ceredigion and now works in the National Assembly for the party.

The University of York graduate said: “I’m delighted to have been selected to fight Cardiff West for the Welsh Lib Dems. Labour has been taking our communities for granted for far too long, and I look forward to running a strong campaign in the run up to next May.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams congratulated Cadan on his selection.

She said: “He is a terrific candidate with a breadth of experience who I know will work tirelessly for the people of Cardiff.”

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Willott and Hunter stand down as Assistant Government Whips, Burt and Brake take over

Jenny Willott has stepped down as Assistant Government Whip to free herself up to concentrate on her constituency and to be able to speak in the House of Commons. Here are the letters exchanged between Jenny and Nick Clegg in full:

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How – or will – Nick Clegg replace Norman Baker in the home office?

jenny willottNorman Baker’s decision to quit as Lib Dem home office minister — citing significant differences with his boss at the department, the Tories’ Theresa May — means a vacancy has opened up. How will Nick Clegg fill it? We’re unlikely to have long to wait, but here are what I see as his options…

Nick could simply promote a current MP. If he does so, then the obvious choice would be Jenny Willott. She covered Jo Swinson’s maternity leave at the business department, earning good reviews along the way. A promotion …

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Jenny Willott on action to get more girls into science and technology based careers

Teen scientist Alexa Dantzler in the labToday is the first National Women in Engineering Day. This BBC story tells of both the success of apprenticeships (the expansion of which was personally championed by Nick Clegg, and how women are establishing successful engineering careers. Earlier this month, Equalities Minister Jenny Willott launched a project, Opening Doors, aimed at getting more girls into science based careers. The aim is to get women with successful careers into schools to inspire girls to take science subjects and follow them through into university and, …

photo by: IntelFreePress
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Jenny Willott to become the first female Liberal Democrat minister to attend Cabinet

jenny willottThere are many people in the party who would like to see the Liberal Democrats with at least one female Cabinet Minister on a permanent basis. There are plenty strong candidates, not least Jenny Willott and Jo Swinson.

We will have to wait a little longer for that, but this week, Jenny Willott will be there to make a presentation on Coalition efforts to close the gender pay gap. She will also attend future meetings when issues affecting women are discussed.  The Independent has the story:

In her new role secured

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Jenny Willott writes… How Lib Dems are giving families choice through shared parental leave and flexible working

Parents and child - Some rights reserved by Ed YourtonAs a mother with two small children myself, I know how hard it can be to balance work and family life. And as a Lib Dem, I firmly believe in equal opportunities for all and tackling discrimination, whatever form it takes.

So I am really excited that with Lib Dems in Government, we are shaking up the status quo to make it easier for parents with young children to arrange their work/life balance however best suits them.

We need to challenge the old-fashioned …

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Jenny Willott on free childcare from 12 months

jenny willottJenny Willott is the Minister for Women, covering for Jo Swinson while she is on maternity leave. In an interview with the Independent on Sunday she said that extending childcare to babies would be expensive but “it may well be that it’s the right thing to do”.

The article points out that there is a “maternity gap” between the end of maternity leave and the point when free childcare kicks in for three year olds. In response Jenny said:

It may well be that that’s something the Government needs to look at. The issue is that it is extremely expensive. It may well be that it’s the right thing to do. But it’s as with every big public spending commitment, it’s a toss-up between if you’ve got the money is that the best thing to put it into or is something else the best thing to put it into.

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Jenny Willott: Gender stereotyping of toys harms the economy

I’ve been an auntie for 21 years and a mother for almost 15. In that time, it’s safe to say that a large part of my disposable income has gone on toys. I find nothing more frustrating than going to a toy shop and finding that the wares are segregated into boys’ and girls’ stuff. Often the girls’ stuff is all pink and glittery and sparkly and involves dollies or little dogs or animals to put in houses. Anything remotely interesting that you can build or make rather than look after is over in the boys’ section.

Now, I don’t have …

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Spring 2014 Conference Agenda now online

The Conference Agenda has been finalised and is now available online.

The agenda features a variety of debates including one on a Digital Bill of Rights on Making Migration Work for Britain.

There will also be speeches by Jenny Willott MP and Danny Alexander MP. Nick Clegg will do a Leader’s Q&A on Saturday 8 March at 15:05 and you can submit concise questions (up to 25 words) on any topic up until 12:40 on 8 March at the Speakers’ Table in the auditorium or by email ([email protected]) before 17:00 on Thursday 6 March.

Every motion in the agenda is open to …

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Should MPs be allowed to take their babies into the voting lobby?

There’s been a bit of controversy over the issue of breastfeeding in the House of Commons and taking babies into the voting lobby sparked by comments by Jo Swinson, who gave birth to her son Andrew on 22 December. The argument goes that you can take a sword into the Commons voting lobby, but not a baby. On face value, it sounds like yet another way in which Westminster needs to be dragged into the 21st century.

Jo said to the Guardian:

“I think it’s been lovely the way people have been really supportive in parliament of my pregnancy,” she said. ” I think some of the structures of the institutions of the House of Commons probably don’t make it as easy as it could be, in particular that you don’t get maternity cover. As a minister, I get cover for my work … but nobody else will be being the MP for East Dunbartonshire.”

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++ Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes replaces Lord McNally as Justice Minister

Simon HughesNews just in:

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes has replaced Lord (Tom) McNally as the Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Justice.

Lord McNally has been appointed as the new Chair of the Youth Justice Board, a post which he will take up in mid-March 2014. Simon Hughes will take over as Justice Minister with immediate effect.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Tom McNally has been a fantastic minister who has pushed through a Liberal agenda in the Ministry of Justice. He will now bring the same

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Jo Swinson talks to Cosmopolitan about the gender pay gap and equality in the workplace

We’ve heard a lot from Nick Clegg and Jo Swinson over the past week on one great inequality in the workplace – the rules around leave after a baby is born. Thanks to the Liberal Democrats in government, parents will soon be able to share all but the first two weeks of a year of parental leave. For me, that policy sums up what we are about. It’s liberal, it’s about allowing people to make choices that are right for them and it does sing to both stronger economy and fairer society mantras.

However, that’s not the only issue of equality …

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AD LIB preview – August 2013: bringing communities together, campaigning success and bringing up children in Parliament

AD LiB August 2013It’s been a few months since I’ve reviewed an AD LIB. Partly that’s because I’ve never got round to doing it, although there was one month, June, I think it was, when I almost spontaneously combusted while reading it on a train. If the dominance of articles about men wasn’t bad enough, the photographs were even worse. I counted something like 26 photographs of men to 10 containing any women at all.

And then there was the recipe. A whole crayfish and a whole lobster? Do they think we’re …

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Jenny Willott MP “thrilled” at equal marriage vote

Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, has confirmed in a statement on her website  that she would have voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill had she been able to be in Parliament yesterday. She is currently on maternity leave.

She said:

I am currently on maternity leave so was unable to vote yesterday, but I feel that it is important for my constituents to know how I would have voted, given the significance of this legislation. Equal marriage is central to the Liberal Democrat belief in a fair, free and open society, and I would

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Liberal Democrat MPs fight for blind people hit by welfare changes

The Independent reports that Liberal Democrat MPs are trying to change the new assessment process for the Personal Independence Payments  which will replace Disability Living Allowance. They believe that they may lead to blind people being denied the help that they need. This is a measure introduced by the Welfare Reform Act. The MPs are concerned that the new assessment process focuses on mobility  and does not sufficiently take into account the ways in which being blind or partially sighted can affect everyday life.

People who have sight loss need the extra help to, for example, help with cleaning, ironing …

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LDVideo: Jenny Willott joins Platform 51’s Glad Rags campaign

Jenny Willott MP talks about her wedding jewellery as part of Platform 51’s campaign to raise awareness of the widespread use of depressants by women.

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The fallout from Chris Huhne’s resignation

I’ve been busy with the media yesterday and today giving my take on Chris Huhne’s resignation, so here are the two main highlights if you missed them:

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New Lib Dem appointments to government

According to the No. 10 website, Ed Davey MP will replace Chris Huhne as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, with Norman Lamb to replace Davey in his role at the Department for Business.

Completing the changes, Jenny Willott becomes an Assisstant Government Whip, and Jo Swinson replaces Norman Lamb as Nick Clegg’s PPS.

Congratulations to those Lib Dem MPs taking up new positions in government.

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Opinion: Our Parliamentarians must fight for our benefits policies

It was rather disappointing last week reading Jenny Willot MP’s article on LDV last week about the Harrington report and about the motion on the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) which was unanimously passed at autumn conference.

The article seems to imply that, by accepting the Harrington recommendations, the government is complying with the ESA motion and that a big round of applause is in order. We spotted a problem, passed a motion about it and then our ministers and MPs fixed it. Job done right?

Well, no. Despite that being what the article seems to imply, the situation is far from resolved.

By fully …

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Stephen Williams MP writes: Backbench committees and the louder Lib Dem voice

There has been much talk in recent weeks about how Liberal Democrats show our distinctiveness and make the party’s voice heard more loudly in government.

A key part of this is the role of the Lib Dem parliamentary committees, one of which I co-chair.

These committees are not simply talking shops. They perform two important functions: making our influence felt within government and preparing the ground for party policy in the future.

Increasingly, the fruits of these committees are being seen.

The Coalition Agreement is the contract that underwrites this government. It sets out the policy agenda agreed between ourselves and our Coalition …

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The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Private Secretaries

The appointments of various LibDem MPs to be PPS to ministers have been rather low-profile, so in case you have missed any here is the complete list:

Gordon Birtwistle – PPS to Danny Alexander
Mike Crockart – PPS to Michael Moore
Duncan Hames – PPS to Sarah Teather
Jo Swinson – PPS to Vince Cable
Jenny Willott – PPS to Chris Huhne

and in addition Norman Lamb as Chief Parliamentary and Political Adviser to Nick Clegg is also his PPS.

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What the papers say…

Ministers are trying to get their hands on hospital charity-cash … Labour kick up over calls for an immediate by-election … a quarter of all MPs now  plan to quit … and there are 20,0000 council officers with the powers to search your home.

Tories trying to buy power, says Straw – The Independent, 30.12.09

David Cameron is today accused by a senior Cabinet minister of attempting to “buy” victory at the general election with a US-style campaign dominated by advertising. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, predicts the Tory campaign will the most lavish in political history and …

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Daily View 2×2: 5 November 2009

Good morning and welcome to the Voice’s early morning roundup of news and views. It’s 5th November, an anniversary we can all remember, when Guy Fawkes didn’t quite manage to get his suggestions for MPs’ expense reform through Parliament. It’s also Art Garfunkel’s birthday – he’s 68 today.

2 Big Stories

Bloody betrayal raises fresh doubts about Britain’s campaign in Afghanistan

The Times carries the story most papers are leading with this morning.

The killing of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman raised fresh doubts yesterday about Britain’s mission in Helmand.

Senior political, diplomatic and military figures warned that public support for the British presence was in danger of collapse without a clear and freshly defined strategy.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has one of the more startling headlines I’ve read recently:

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Is John Thurso the sexiest man in the Liberal Democrats?

Thurso and Willott - the beautiful peopleAll round love walrus John Thurso MP is currently heading a poll to be crowned sexiest man in the Liberal Democrats on the blogger of the year’s site. It’s the ‘tache that does it. Lib Dem Voice unsucessfully lobbied for Jeremy Purvis MSP to be included on the list.

Jenny Willott is currently leading the field for the ladies and… look, I’m just not sure how much more I can say on this whole article without offending anyone, OK?  So …

Posted in News and Polls | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Holmes re-elected parliamentary party chair

Chesterfield MP Paul Holmes has been re-elected by Liberal Democrat MPs as chair of the parliamentary party. He was challenged by Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott but won by 43 votes to 16.

Evan Harris defeated Chris Huhne to be elected as the English MPs’ representative on the Federal Policy Committee.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments
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