Tag Archives: Jo Swinson

LibLink: Jo Swinson: Shared parental leave will deliver the flexibility that couples want

We missed this when it was published last week but it’s no less relevant now. Shared parental leave becomes a reality in the next few months. Parents will be able to decide which of them takes the time off from their work to stay at home following the birth of a baby. Jo wrote about this for the New Statesman’s Staggers blog:

Under the new rules, mothers will still take at least two weeks of maternity leave immediately after birth, but after that working couples can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.

Research published by my department this week underlines the importance of shared parental leave in allowing parents to choose a pattern of leave that fits their own family situation. People are rejecting dated stereotypes about the roles of men and women. Parenting is a shared endeavour and many fathers understandably want to spend more time at home when they are adapting to the demands of a new baby. Shared parental leave will let couples choose how to share their childcare responsibilities in whatever way works best for them, and enable both parents to spend time developing that vital bond with their baby in the early stages.

Our survey found the majority of people believe that childcare should be the equal responsibility of both parents and less than a quarter of people believe that the mother should have main responsibility for childcare.

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Daily Mail tells us a 20 year old story on Jo Swinson’s equalities report

The Daily Mail alights on a Government Equalities Report commissioned by our Jo Swinson and, of course, hones in on the one paragraph in 12 pages that mentions sex.

But just doing the dishes can really spice up a marriage.

That, at least, is the advice from a report backed by Liberal Democrat equalities minister Jo Swinson. It calls on men to do more to support gender equality campaigns – and isn’t coy when it comes to spelling out the potential perks of hoovering.

It claims that everyone in a family becomes ‘happier and healthier’ if men participate ‘fairly in the home’ by sharing childcare duties or household chores.

It goes on to say: ‘Equity in the home is associated with a range of benefits including improved sexual relationships.

‘Where women report an equitable relationship with their partner they are more likely to be having frequent sex.’

The thing is, the research cited in that report is 20 years old. It is, of course, stating the obvious. Let’s face it, if everyone shares the work, there’s bound to be more time for fun.

If the Daily Mail had devoted even half the space it gives over to stories that can be filed under the heading “Woman Goes Out Wearing Clothes” or to having a go at women for working outside the home, or being stay at home mothers, or being too fat, or being obsessed with diets, or being too needy in relationships, or scaring men by being too independent, to promoting this research, they could have driven a really positive cultural change.

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Lynne Featherstone: Good riddance to Page 3

There’s some interesting discussion on my social media timeline about  the Sun’s decision to stop printing clothes of topless women on Page 3. On one hand you have the male dominated group of people who think this is a dreadful infringement of liberty enacted by sinister feminists with An Agenda. Just you wait, they’ll be after your porn yet, they warn. They don’t like the fact that the No More Page 3 campaign started by Lucy-Anne Holmes and backed by more than 200,000 people has got what it wanted. It’s illiberal, they scream, for one group of people to interfere with the freedoms of others. That’s interesting. Presumably they would also be in favour of continuing to use the deeply racist language that was deemed acceptable when I was a child. Perhaps they’d oppose interfering in employers’ rights to send children up chimneys.

I just wonder how some of the men complaining about this decision if, every single day, there were pictures of naked men in a newspaper in a society where most of the positions of power were occupied by women who were never depicted in such a way. I don’t think they’d like it very much.

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Flashback: Did any MP colleagues attack Jeremy B when he talked about veils?

Jeremy Browne photo by Policy ExchangeYesterday, my colleague Caron Lindsay wrote about Jo Swinson’s remarks about gender stereotyping and toys, followed by Jeremy Browne’s tweets on the matter: Jo Swinson slams gender stereo-typing and is attacked by Jeremy Browne. A Liberal Democrat minister makes remarks, and a Liberal Democrat MP replies on Twitter, rumbling on about state interference in parents’ business:

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Jo Swinson slams gender stereotyping of toys – and is attacked by Jeremy Browne

If you’ve been buying presents for children these days, you’ll doubtless have noticed that there seems to be a bit o a gender divide in the way toys are marketed. For the girls, you have dollies, little puppies, things you brush the hair of and put in houses. In some stores, these things are housed in garish pink aisles. For the boys, you have anything remotely interesting. Science sets, dinosaurs, space stuff. For role playing, girls get to dress up as nurses or princesses while boys get to do exciting world-saving superhero stuff.

This should be offensive to all liberals, who have a massive respect for the individual. Children should never be told that a particular toy is for them or not dependent on their gender. Jenny Willott, when she was standing in for Equalities Minister Jo Swinson, said that gender stereotyping of toys limited children’s ambitions and even harmed the economy.

Toys are a hugely important part of our children’s learning and development. It is of course for children and their parents to choose the toys they play with, as we were just discussing. They should be able to make those choices freely from a full range of toys. How our children play helps to shape their aspirations for the future, and I want those aspirations to be based on their abilities and interests, not on stereotypes. I value the right of every single child to be treated as a unique individual and to be given the opportunity to explore their own interests and develop their own potential and talents, wherever they may lie. That is important not only for children now playing, but for the future of the economy.

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Liam McArthur highlights Swinson’s and Featherstone’s work and supports ambition action on violence against women

Last week the Scottish Parliament debated violence against women during the 16 days of action between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and International Human Rights day. Liam McArthur led for the Liberal Democrats. He noted that in the ninety minutes of the debate, 9 women would face violence at the hands of their partners.

It was a sensible, consensual debate which you can read here.  Liam’s speech in full is published below:

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Jo Swinson on one of the great double standards of our time

Breastfeeding is in the news again after Claridges thought that it was ok .to tell a mother to cover up as her baby nursed.

Nick Clegg was asked a rather strange question, which he eventually answered pretty well, about whether the importance of breastfeeding should be covered in Personal Health and Social Education classes and whether mothers should be told that it should be done in private. The right answer is, of course, yes to the first and no to the second.

It’s really quite ridiculous to think that it took until 2010 for the rights of mothers to breastfeed their babies in public was protected in law. This means that nobody can ask a mother to stop doing so in any place where she and the baby are allowed to be. Scotland was way ahead of the game, protecting women some five years before. Remembering the struggle it was to get that bill through, I wouldn’t give too much credit to the Labour/Liberal Democrat government of the day. It took a cross party alliance of women to keep Elaine Smith’s private member’s bill alive.

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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.

photo by:
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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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