2024 Parliament: Lib Dem MPs get to work

This is what the last four years’ hard work has all been about.

Today, 72 Lib Dem MPs and Jennie, the gorgeous guide dog of Torbay MP Steve Darling posed for the 2024 team photo.

How many can you name? If you are not sure, have a look at our posts on our new MPs

Earlier, our MPs had filled up row upon row in the House of Commons, with Ed taking up the place traditionally occupied by the leader of the third party, last occupied by Nick Clegg up until the 2010 election.

Our Parliament really has some incredible pomp and ritual that some might argue reinforces its remoteness from the people. Black Rod is despatched from the Lords to summon senior MPs to read a proclamation from the King that is written in centuries old English.

Back in the Commons, they elect a Speaker who is dragged to the chair as a throwback to the days when being the Speaker was a dangerous occupation so the unfortunate victor was never enthusiastic about taking on the job.

With Lindsay Hoyle duly re-elected unoposed, each party leader was given a chance to say a few words of congratulation and intent:

Here’s Ed:

The text is below:

Mr Speaker-Elect, it is a real pleasure and privilege to say, on behalf of those on the Liberal Democrat Benches, congratulations on your re-election. You know only too well how tough a task you are taking on, so thank you for agreeing to serve. You have shown time and again your commitment to the vital role that the House plays in holding the Government of the day to account. As the Mother of the House said, the new Government face a difficult task in clearing up the mess they have inherited. We on the Liberal Democrat Benches will hold the Government to account; that is our job. We will focus on the health and care crisis, on ending the sewage scandal, and on helping people with the cost of living crisis.

Mr Speaker-Elect, the new Government have a huge majority, so it will be a particularly difficult job for the Speaker to help the Opposition parties as they do their job of holding the Government to account. I am sure that you will do it with independence and impartiality, as you always have. We want to work constructively with you on that, as the largest third-party force in this Parliament for over 100 years.

For the benefit of new Members, may I say, Mr Speaker-Elect, that you have always been a real champion of the security and safety of all Members and staff, as well as looking after our health and welfare? We are grateful to you for doing that, Sir. Just yesterday, you asked after my health following my active campaign. The House may be interested to know that after I had reassured you about it, you expressed real enthusiasm about bungee jumping. May I congratulate you again, and wish you the very best for this Parliament?

Then, the process of swearing MPs in started. This is an important business. If you don’t get sworn in you can actually lose your seat.

From the Parliament website:

MPs cannot take their seat, speak in debates, vote or receive a salary until taking the oath or affirmation. They could also be fined £500 and have their seat declared vacant “as if they were dead” if they attempted to do so.

So I reckon I’ll spend much of the next couple of days watching the live stream and crying happy tears as I see our lot take their oaths. They go in order – the Government, Privy councillors and party leaders come first. Then they go in order of when they were first elected. There are over 300 new MPs, almost half the Parliament.

The Speaker had a few words of warning for MPs:

I remind Members that swearing in, as a proceeding of the House, is recorded by the television cameras, and that anything said or done by Members may appear on television or in Quentin Letts’s column, and may be picked up by the microphones. It will assist the broadcasters if new Members clearly state their name and constituency when they come to the Dispatch Box. Progress will depend, of course, on the number of Members wishing to swear in at any particular time. I advise Members to watch the Annunciators to establish progress, and to speak to their Whips.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll see establishment of Select Committees. It is likely that we will get to chair at least a couple of them. That will be another opportunity for building profile for us.

Now, back to the picture at the top. Obviously my favourite in it is Jennie the guide dog. I was lucky enough to meet her in Bournemouth last September and when she was off duty, I had a cuddle with her. She is such a beautiful girl with a wonderful personality.

Rumours that she was named after Federal Conference Committee member and frequent debate Chair Jennie Rigg are entirely made up by me, but it’s a great thought.

I am looking forward to seeing her around and about over the next few years.

Update: Jennie clearly knows that all celebrities need a social media presence. She now has a Twitter account.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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6 Comments

  • You soppy bugger

    *cuddle *

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 9th Jul '24 - 10:37pm

    Soppy, me? Like you, I am completely neutral about cute animals. Not affected by them at all. They do not dominate my life in any way. I do not spend my nights clinging to the edge of the bed to enable a cocker spaniel to spread himself out. Oh no.

  • On one hand I think we could streamline the process and ditch some of the silly pomp and ceremony, but on the other hand I think we’re remarkably efficient and down to earth when it comes to a change in government compared to somewhere like the US.

    We need to have something a bit different or special to mark the occasion, so we might as well enjoy it in all its silliness.

  • David Garlick 10th Jul '24 - 10:57am

    Bring on the pomp and ceremony. It is part of who/what we are as a nation. Irrelevant but fun.
    Need to improve our diversity maybe.

  • One thing we should be clear on is the need to thank Jo Swinson.

    It was Jo that got us the absurd number of second places (compared to recent elections) that Ed was able to convert. It was Jo who put us in this place where we were able to grow. We were so lucky with that leader/deputy leader team of Jo and Ed in 2019.

    The other person whose legacy is important (yet again!) is Charles Kennedy. It is not a coincidence that this – our most successful campaign – was the first in years that followed the ‘not too serious about ourselves; serious about the country’ vibe that Charles perfected. I’m sure Ed learnt a lot as a new MP from how Charles conducted himself.

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