Tag Archives: Jo Swinson

Online abuse might not break bones, but it can come close to breaking your spirit

The internet is a pretty torrid place at the best of times. Some users delight in throwing rage, bile and abuse around the place. If you are a woman the abuse can be particularly graphic, sexualised and incredibly unpleasant.

In a feature for Radio 5 live, 3 politicians, including our former minister Jo Swinson, talk about their experiences of online abuse and how it affected them. Also taking part are my SNP MP Hannah Bardell and Labour’s Diane Abbott, who gets a whole load of racist bile thrown in just for good measure.

This is fairly routine for any woman who commits the “offence” of going on the internet in possession of an opinion. I’ve come in for it myself and it does wear you down. There was a time a couple of years ago where it really started to affect me badly and reduced me to tears on several occasions. The European elections disaster and the independence referendum combined to create what seemed to be a never-ending spiral of abuse. The most hurtful came from commenters on this site, members of the party, some of whom I actually know in real life, who said some pretty unpleasant personal stuff, but they were just part of it. It felt that wherever I turned, there was nastiness.

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Jo Swinson: Why I now back all women shortlists

12496325_10207909151261642_614223791405517749_oBelow are the two speeches Jo Swinson made to Scottish Conference yesterday. The Diversity Debate took place in two halves. The first was on a constitutional amendment which would allow the Scottish Party to implement arrangements on gender balance which had been approved by conference. One amendment to that was submitted, and supported by the movers, changing gender balance to the much wider “diversity”. The risk of such an approach was that a 2/3 majority was needed for it to pass, but the working group had been advised that a constitutional amendment was vital to enable any new arrangements to be implemented.

It’s worth pointing out that in the intervening period, Jo has done so much to encourage and support women candidates, running training events and supporting so many as they embarked on selection campaigns.

Here is her speech proposing the constitutional amendment:

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Lynne Featherstone’s “Equal ever after” is out now – how same sex marriage became a reality (with added Lib Dem flouncing)

Lynne Featherstone Equal Ever AfterLast night, at a glitzy party, Lynne Featherstone’s book, Equal ever after was launched. In it she tells the story of  her crusade as Equalities Minister to deliver same sex marriage.

The launch was attended by Nick Clegg, Jo Swinson, Julian Huppert and many, many more. Sadly, I wasn’t there, even though I was in London. I was at a meeting of the Federal Finance and Administration Committee instead.

You have to wonder what position Jo Swinson was in when she took this:

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Jo Swinson has new role at advertising watchdog

Former Liberal Democrat Business and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson has been appointed as one of four new appointees to the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice. From Marketing Magazine:

As one of four new appointees to the BCAP (Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice) committee, Swinson will be responsible for advising on broadcast advertising codes of conduct.

Swinson is no stranger to advertising regulation, particularly surrounding the marketing industry’s portrayal of women, having in the past objected to ads.

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IfG interviews former Lib Dem ministers, feat. Browne, Swinson, Hughes, Featherstone, Cable, Huhne

The Institute for Government did a lot of work during the coalition looking at how this (by English standards) unusual arrangement was working, and could work better. Now we have (for now at least) moved beyond coalition, the IfG has been interviewing ministers who served in the last government, seeking their reflections on their time there.

The IfG website has transcripts of a number of interviews with both Conservative and Lib Dem former ministers. The Lib Dems featured are:

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Towards a family friendly House of Commons

There was a Commons debate this week on making the Houses of Parliament more family-friendly. We’ve already covered the breastfeeding angle but it’s worth looking at some of the other issues raised.

Jo Swinson, in an article for the New Statesman, talked about what she thought was necessary to make Parliament more accessible for parents.

Lots of positive suggestions were put forward in the debate, including better scheduling of Parliamentary recesses to coincide with school holidays, more predictability of debates and votes, a drop-in crèche facility to complement the nursery, introducing maternity cover for MPs and compassionate carers’ leave for staff facing family emergencies. Rightly, the debate included family responsibilities beyond parenting, whether for elderly relatives or for partners who become ill. Professor Sarah Childs, the respected expert on gender and politics from Bristol University, is currently preparing recommendations for reform of Parliament to make it more accessible to people from under-represented groups, so it was a timely discussion.

She talked about the history-making change that had made a real difference to her and her husband when their son was born:

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So why shouldn’t MPs breastfeed in the House of Commons?

There was a very sensible debate on the family friendliness or otherwise of the House of Commons earlier this week. The press seems to have latched on (sorry) to the issue of whether women MPs should be allowed to breastfeed their babies in the Commons chamber itself, although the debate was much more wide ranging – and we’ll have more about those other aspects later.

The debate was brought by Jess Phillips ,the MP for Birmingham Yardley who recently took such a battering on Twitter for daring to suggest that Parliament might have more important priorities than have a special debate for International Men’s Day. The irony of her being the only woman on the Committee that decides Commons business was not lost on many people.

At any debate on these issues, you get the odd Tory turning up whose only purpose seems to be to make themselves look ridiculous and to basically troll the proceedings. On this occasion it was Sir Simon Burns, the MP for Chelmsford. Early in the proceedings he suggested that the House of Commons did not have an overwhelming majority of white men when asked by fellow Conservative Maria Miller:

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