Tag Archives: Jo Swinson

Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle)

speech danny alexander 6The Guardian’s Nick Watt reports today the long-trailed announcement that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, will take on the role of the party’s shadow chancellor at the 2015 election:

Nick Clegg has decided that Alexander, his closest ally in the cabinet, will be the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman during the campaign and will face George Osborne and Ed Balls in any television debates on the economy. … The Lib Dems insisted that the election roles for Alexander and Cable were consistent with their cabinet roles. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We are enormously fortunate to have two talented and well-known ministers on economic matters that are recognised and respected by the public. By the next election Danny Alexander and Vince Cable will have both served for five years as chief secretary and business secretary respectively, so they know their areas inside out. It therefore makes complete sense that they should continue in those roles during the election.”

I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories.

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Conference Speeches: Jo Swinson to Conference rally

Jo swinson 2014 rally glasgowHere is Jo Swinson’s speech to the rally last night:

Conference – hello and a very warm welcome back to Glasgow!

It may still be a bit wet and chilly, but it’s still the friendliest city, and most importantly, still in the United Kingdom.

A lot has happened since we met here last year.

Fantastic year for sport:

Winter Olympics, record medal haul for the UK

Huge success of the Commonwealth Games here in Glasgow this summer – inspiring athletes from 13year old swimmer Erraid Davies to Jo Pavey’s fantastic gold medal at 40

England won the World Cup – obviously in women’s rugby

We’ve seen some key political milestones:

No one pays income tax on the first £10,000 they earn

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Nick Clegg’s conference rally speech: “We may be the underdogs but we have the values, beliefs and resilience to win”

“This is the fight of our lives” – that was the message from Nick Clegg at last night’s conference rally. You can watch it here:

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Jo Swinson marks Bisexual Visibility Day

Bisexual Pride Flag23 September every year is Bi Visibility Day. Why, I hear you ask, do we need such a thing in these tolerant and accepting times? Didn’t we just pass same sex marriage?

Well, actually, there is still a fair amount of homophobia around. And if you are bisexual, you can actually experience  discrimination even from within the LGBT community.

A couple of years ago, The Bisexuality Report produced by the Open University and contributed to by LGBT+ Lib Dems’ Jen Yockney gave a snapshot of what life can be like for bisexual people in the UK. Many of its recommendations aim to tackle marginalisation of bisexual people and to promote a wider understanding of the specific problems they face.

Last year on Bisexual Visibility Day, LGBT+ Lib Dems’ Dave Page wrote an excellent post in which he outlined why this day is needed:

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Senior Liberal Democrats sign letter praising former FA inclusion adviser Edward Lord after his abrupt sacking

Earlier this month, Edward Lord, who until last Thursday sat on the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, criticised the FA for not taking inclusion and diversity seriously enough. In an interview with the Telegraph on 3rd September, he said:

The public and the rest of the sport industry are getting fed up with football’s inability to tackle discrimination in the game.  Most other governing bodies have really embraced the need for change, to make their sports more inclusive. It always seems as though football is lagging behind. The FA must take action when participants so flagrantly breach their rules against discrimination.

He was referring in part to the fact that the FA took no action against Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore when his highly sexist emails were published.

Last Thursday, the FA sacked him from his role on the Inclusion Advisory Board. You have to wonder what this says about their actual commitment to tackling discrimination. Their statement was uncompromising:

It is not about what Edward has stated publicly, but a matter and question of conduct and respect for colleagues. The group collectively felt that all trust in Edward, due to his repeated failure to work in the spirit of collaboration, had broken down irretrievably.

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Jo Swinson launches “Scotland should stay!” petition

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TJo Swinson, Lib Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, is inviting those who “think Scotland should be stay part of the United Kingdom” to sign a petition saying so ahead of the independence referendum on 18th September. Here’s the text of the email circulated to party members last night:

In just over a month my fellow Scots and I will cast the most important vote of our lives.

I’m hoping there’s a resounding vote for Scotland to stay as part of the

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Jo Swinson on shared parental leave: “It means mums might go back to work earlier and dads might get to spend more time with their children”

swinson and hamesThere was an in-depth interview with Jo Swinson, Lib Dem business minister, in Tuesday’s London Evening Standard – her first interview since returning from maternity leave, having given birth. You can read the full feature here, but snippets below…

Jo Swinson on her (and Duncan Hames’) baby being the first carried through the voting lobby of the Commons:

“Given that we’re still voting until 10pm on a Monday, that makes our lives slightly easier. It saves you having to leave the baby with a stranger.” Is Swinson pleased it was a male MP who was the first to do this? “Yes. Having a baby has an impact on dads too — and people don’t always recognise that.”

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What a waste of an interview with Jo Swinson!

Jo Swinson Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer AffairsThere is so much to annoy in today’s Daily Record interview with Jo Swinson. First of all there’s the headline: Women’s Minister tries to explain why none of Nick Clegg’s Girls made it to the Cabinet.’  Hang on a minute. Nick Clegg’s girls?  What sort of way is that to refer to Members of Parliament? You wouldn’t see the men referred to as “boys.”

That, though, was the sub-editor’s fault. The first five paragraphs comprise a moan by journalist Annie Brown about the format of the interview. which seems unjustified to say the least. She was offered a call with Jo, she wanted and got a face to face meeting. It actually sounds like Jo’s press people bent over backwards to give her what she asked for.

I don’t expect the Daily Record to give any Liberal Democrat an easy time but I felt that Brown could have got a lot more out of the interview by making it more wide-ranging. For a start, she’s interested in a lot of the same things Jo has been campaigning on for years on body image and how women are portrayed in the media and expected to behave. There was precious little in the interview about Jo’s actual ministerial work on things like shared parental leave and extending the right to request flexible working to everyone.

Instead, Brown goes on at great length about the recent Cabinet reshuffle, complaining that no Liberal Democrat women had been promoted to the Cabinet. Had she not noticed that this was an exclusively Conservative reshuffle? There are plenty Liberal Democrats who want to see a woman in the Cabinet and who are also aware that much work has been done, a great deal of it by Jo, to support female candidates with both selection and election. It might not be enough yet, but there’s stuff happening. Of the eight retiring MPs’ seats, five have selected women and so have a good number of our targets.

photo by:
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Jo Swinson launches Lib Dem campaign to deliver equal pay in the workplace

jo swinson Alex Folkes/Fishnik PhotographyIn an email to party members, Jo Swinson, Lib Dem Minister for Consumer Affairs & Equalities, has launched a new campaign to deliver equal pay in the workplace:

Shockingly, in 2012 women were paid nearly 20% less than their male colleagues. It is an unacceptable difference and one the Liberal Democrats are determined to tackle.

Today we’re announcing plans to require large companies to publish the difference in pay between male and female workers. This will create pressure from staff and customers to close any pay gap and

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Duncan and Andrew Hames make history

Last week Harriet Harman said a rumour had been put round that she’d - shock horror- taken a baby through the voting lobby:

When I came back after having my first baby I was reported to the serjeant-at-arms for breaking the rules by taking my baby through the division lobby under my jacket.

What a difference 30 years makes.

Tonight, Jo Swinson tweeted:

At least, we’re assuming that it …

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Lessons must be learned from the Jo Swinson speculation

jo swinson by paul walterOn Thursday, George Eaton of the New Statesman blogged that Jo Swinson was about to replace Ed Davey in the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle.

Today, the Guardian’s Nick Watt says that this is not the case and Jo is expected to become Secretary of State for Scotland in September after the independence referendum.

Nick Clegg, acutely conscious that the five Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers are all men, is expected to promote the business minister Jo Swinson to the cabinet. But she is expected to succeed Alistair Carmichael as Scotland secretary after September’s independence referendum in September if, as expected, the pro-Union side prevails. Carmichael would be praised for his role in the victory as Swinson took charge on introducing greater devolution to the Scottish parliament.

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Jo Swinson tipped to replace Ed Davey in Cabinet reshuffle…

Jo Swinson Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer AffairsInteresting speculation from George Eaton in the New Statesman that Nick Clegg may have been listening to Stephen Tall and is about to reshuffle the Cabinet, replacing Ed Davey with Jo Swinson. Jenny Willott would take over Jo’s job at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

The report says:

A senior party source suggests that Jo Swinson could replace Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, in the party’s top team. Swinson, who recently returned from maternity leave (she is married to fellow Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames), has long been regarded as the strongest female candidate to enter the cabinet. She is a Clegg loyalist, a strong media performer, and has impressed during her time as a business minister.

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5 things Nick Clegg could do next

Nick Clegg Q&A 8My last piece of advice to Nick Clegg was to stand down as Lib Dem leader. He didn’t, and it’s pretty clear now that Nick will lead us into the next general election.

Two problems remain, though, and we need to find ways of addressing them. First, morale in the party has dipped since the May elections. Secondly, support for the party has also dipped in the polls. Yes, Lib Dem MPs benefit from the incumbency effect but that only stretches so far – we also need to start winning the air war, or at the very least avoid being ignored. As it stands, what Nick says just isn’t getting a listening. However unfair, it’s a reality we need to deal with.

Here are five suggestions from me for ways in which Nick Clegg could help restore party morale and maybe get himself a hearing from the media and public…

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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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Après Nick: which Lib Dem MPs are best-placed to become the next Lib Dem leader?

Today’s Independent has an interesting story speculating on the Lib Dem leadership contest to come if the 2015 election result triggers Nick Clegg’s resignation. It’s one of the features of this parliament – perhaps linked to it being a fixed-term in which we know the dates are all known – that there hasn’t been nearly as much gossip about future leadership bids in any of the three main parties.

Anyway, the Indy story seeks to make up a little for that absence: Nick Clegg’s rivals for the Lib Dems leadership told to rev up. The premise of the article …

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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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Andrew Lennox Marshall Hames: The first picture

Well, not the first actual picture, of course, but the first that the likes of you and I are allowed to see.

And, the undeniable fact is that the firstborn son of Jo Swinson and Duncan Hames is incredibly, snuggliciously cute.

Andrew Hames

 

In addition to the gorgeousness of the baby, I love the obvious besottedness of his parents, And the Lib Dem yellow pram.

Congratulations to Jo and Duncan.

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Duncan Hames steps down as PPS to Nick Clegg and Simon Wright takes over

Following this afternoon’s wonderful news about the safe arrival of Andrew Lennox Marshall Hames,  the Belfast Telegraph reports that his dad, Duncan Hames, has decided to step down from his position as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nick Clegg so that he has “more time to spend with our new baby”:

Mr Hames said: “When I told Nick that I would be wanting more time to spend with our new baby, I knew he would understand.

“Now that our son, Andrew, is with us, I am stepping down as the Deputy Prime Minister’s PPS.

“I truly appreciated the opportunity to see the coalition

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++Jo Swinson and Duncan Hames welcome son Andrew

When Jo Swinson and Duncan Hames got engaged, they announced it by a co-ordinated tweets.

They carried on that tradition to announce the birth of their son Andrew. He was born on Sunday, but they’ve just announced his arrival in the last few minutes.

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Jo Swinson on lives blighted by poor body confidence

jo swinson Alex Folkes/Fishnik PhotographyI wish Jo Swinson had been around when I was a teenager. My self-loathing teenage self could have done with a friendly looking government minister, a shining example of healthy living, telling me that the images society measured me against were unattainable and I should just concentrate on enjoying life and living healthily, taking loads of exercise and not being obsessed with weight and crash dieting.

Last week, someone posted a photo on a Facebook group about Inverness which had a 12 year old me in it. It took me quite aback to realise that, actually, I didn’t really look that bad. At that age, I thought I was hideous. Too fat, too hairy, too spotty. No way would I ever be able to be as pretty and, by extension, likeable as the girls in Blue Jeans and Jackie’s photo stories. My teenage story was one of intense anxiety, depression  which has undoubtedly cast a long shadow on my life. There were times when I didn’t believe I had the right to leave the house, let alone participate in anything at school. It wasn’t all to do with body image, but it seemed that everything I saw and everybody I came across in my life reinforced that image. There was no respite and no escape.

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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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Jo Swinson takes on Daily Mail’s Liz Jones, who thinks she shouldn’t be “procreating”

In the faux 1950s rose tinted world of the Daily Mail, lives a columnist called Liz Jones. Her job appears to be to offend as many people as possible on a weekly basis. she’s remarkably good at it.

Today, she’s cast her net particularly wide by writing a column about shared parental leave that is guaranteed to offend all women and any man who isn’t a sexist idiot. As a sub-plot, she’s also creating division between those in society who think that tea towels should be ironed (like former Liberal Democrat co-editor and regular contributor Mark Pack who admits to …

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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: Good news for Mums and Dads

“Liberal Democrats will allow parents to share the allocation of maternity and paternity leave between them in whatever way suits them best.” That’s what the party’s 2010 manifesto said would happen – and this week it actually did happen. Here’s what Nick Clegg had to say about the party’s policy success…

libdem letter from nick clegg

A short one this week: just to say a huge well done to all Liberal Democrats. We’ve finally landed our flagship policy on shared parental leave.

Help us share the news about our shared parental leave!

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Opinion: Jo Swinson’s latest campaign is certainly more than average

I love shopping. I’m not afraid to admit it and frankly if I had to say I were addicted to one thing, it would be buying dresses; daytime dresses, smart dresses, dresses I know I’ll never wear because they’re just plain weird but I justified them as ‘individual’ at the time. I reckon there are many women in Britain who could admit to the same sort of love for clothes shopping. What draws me in though isn’t the colour or the number of sequins (well sometimes it’s because of the sequins), but the whole shopping experience in general. A good …

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Swinson argues against unpaid internships, Leech advertises for unpaid interns. Who’s right?

On the face of it, Liberal Democrats are sending out mixed messages on internships at the moment.

Jo Swinson, as employment minister, has been promoting the Government’s Pay and Rights helpline (0800 917 2368) and talking about it being appropriate to pay interns while John Leech’s office in Manchester is offering an unpaid internship proramme. This is in contrast to the party’s internship programme which is offering the National Minimum Wage.

Jo on Good Morning Scotland (from around 1:52 in) that she wanted to ensure that employers were not unwittingly or unintentionally doing the wrong thing and making sure that people …

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How Liberal Democrats around the country are marking Remembrance Sunday

Here’s a flavour of how  Liberal Democrats are marking Remembrance Sunday, some in an official capacity, others on their blogs. I suggest you put on Elgar’s Cello concerto as recommended by Armour Plated Liberalism and have a look at the following:

Tim Farron spent yesterday selling poppies in bad weather:

Jo Swinson tweeted from a service in Bearsden

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Jo Swinson launches size 16 mannequins

Jo Swinson today went along to Debenhams to welcome their size 16 mannequins which have been brought in to reflect the average women. It has been intensely annoying to hear these discussed across various media, including the BBC and the Independent, as “plus size” mannequins. If your view of what a woman should look like comes from airbrushed magazines and porn rather than opening your eyes and looking at the real women around you, then, yes, you might think that size 16 was plus, but you would be wrong.

Women come in all shapes and sizes and girls should be …

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Caron Lindsay defends Jo Swinson’s right to stand

Jo Swinson GlasgowThe government has been introducing a lots of “rights to” of late. Communities have rights to bid and to build. Individual have rights to buy and to personal budgets. After the last 48 hours of media coverage, it may be that we need to bring in a “right to stand.”

The story runs like this. Jo Swinson arrives for Prime Ministers Questions at a point when the house is already crammed out. She stands for a while and she’s happy with that. The political editor of the Spectator, James Forsyth however was horrified and tweeted.

Quite remarkable that no MP has offered Jo Swinson, who is seven months pregnant, a seat. Really shocking lack of manners and decency

The Daily Mail then took up the case. Caron Lindsay took that newspaper to task last night, concluding:

I find the Mail’s attitude to women much more offensive and harmful to society than anything that happened in the House of Commons yesterday.

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Jo Swinson: “About to get on tube. Seat offers welcome….but I was happier standing yesterday”

The febrile world of Twitter has been a little obsessed with the fact that Liberal Democrat minister Jo Swinson, who is 7 months’ pregnant, was standing throughout Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, with concerned political correspondents expressing outrage that nobody had offered her a seat.

Then the Daily Mail got in on the act.  Their attitude to women generally can be summed up as patriarchal nonsense. That’s not the word, I confess, I used earlier in a private LDV team discussion, but this is a family site.  I’ve written before about that awful phrase they tend to use about any pregnant …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid-1 1st Nov - 2:08am
    Paul Barker will be surprised; ostensibly, at any rate.
  • User AvatarT-J 1st Nov - 12:58am
    Sorry, David, I thought I was responding to anecdotes of your experience of LibDem internal politicking with anecdotes of my experience of the Greens. Having...
  • User Avatarmalc 1st Nov - 12:01am
    The bookies now have the LibDems at odds on - 5/6 - to get less than 25 seats at the next GE - I doubt...
  • User AvatarSesenco 31st Oct - 11:55pm
    For me, the most telling observation about the Rochester & Strood byelection thus far is that Labour, if it is to form the next government,...
  • User Avatarmalc 31st Oct - 11:47pm
    The best odds on the parties to win Rochester: UKIP 1/11 Tories 10/1 Labour 80/1 Greens 500/1 Britain First 750/1 LibDems 1000/1
  • User AvatarRoland 31st Oct - 11:27pm
    @Stuart, I get your point of view and broadly agree with your assessment of the news worthiness of a public figure's sexuality. However with respect...