Former Lib Dem MP Jackie Ballard to join Alcohol Concern as CEO

License Some rights reserved by NCVOJackie Ballard was Lib Dem MP for Taunton from 1997 to 2001, winning her seat from the Tories before losing it after a single term – a defeat often attributed to her passionate opposition to blood sports, a controversial stand in the constituency. (Jeremy Browne re-gained Taunton in 2005.)

Jackie stood for the party leadership when Paddy Ashdown stood down in 1999, but came fourth out of five candidates. She didn’t look back after leaving parliament, and soon began a career in the charity sector, with five-year stints leading first the RSPCA then the RNID. And this week it was announced she has a new role at Alcohol Concern:

Jackie Ballard will join Alcohol Concern as chief executive in July and will become the charity’s first permanent full time chief executive in two years.

Ballard, a former Liberal Democrat MP, has previously been chief executive of Womankind Worldwide, Action on Hearing Loss and the RSPCA. She left Womankind Worldwide in 2013 after 10 months in charge saying that she had “come to realise that it is important for my personal job satisfaction to have the opportunity for regular direct contact with beneficiaries”. …

[She] said: “I am excited by this opportunity to help tackle a serious social issue. There is an uneven battle between the global drinks industry, which deploys massive resources to promote its products and influence behaviour, and those, including Alcohol Concern, who are campaigning for a change in drinking culture.”

Photo: Some rights reserved by NCVO

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  • Charles Rothwell 21st Jun '14 - 8:44am

    Good Luck in the new role, but also tinged with regret that someone with her strong principles and capabilities is not still one of our MPs and helping to drive forward the Party’s interests at Westminster. She certainly sounds like precisely the kind of person who should form the mainstay of the party’s core leadership.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Jun '14 - 9:01am

    Lib Dems should challenge binge drinking. It would be a vote winner and the right thing to do, as long as people don’t go too authoritarian with it.

  • Charles Rothwell 21st Jun '14 - 9:31am

    As with smoking, my (unqualified) view would be that the primary means to be employed should be price. Some of the “happy hour” offers bars used to be able to offer were ridiculous and went some way to explain the atrocious scenes many of our city centres here in Yorkshire and the Humber used to experience, especially at the weekends. Very happy indeed to be able to report, though, that the main street of Wakefield, which the local council disgracefully allowed to become just one never-ending row of bars, discos and the cheapest takeaways anyone could imagine, is now slowly recovering and attracting people apart from teenie boppers out for a skin-full at the weekend. We have the old Unity Hall (left to decay and fester for decades under the council) now being revived (with 19th century-style public donations primarily) and being revamped to become a (desperately needed) live music/concert venue while, at the other end of the street, the Cathedral has been revamped (with the hideous old Victorian pews being chucked out) and turned into a good venue for choral events etc as well). (Other main deterrent against bingeing is of course education (e.g. making 14/15 year olds aware of rocketing rise in cirrhosis and what this actually means for sufferers)).

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Jun '14 - 9:55am

    Hi Charles, I’m not really a fan of things like minimum pricing, but buy one get one free should go and there are lots of other things we can do. We need to somehow inspire people that there is more to life than getting hammered on the weekend and regretting it!

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 21st Jun '14 - 1:44pm

    Jackie got my first preference in that leadership election – I think my list went Ballard, Bruce, Rendel, Hughes, Kennedy.
    Anyway, good to know about Jackie’s new job.

  • Congratulations to Jackie Ballard, another fine MP who came up against the tally ho rip foxes to shreds brigade only to be later replaced by a less than fine Orange Booker who, intent on moving the party further to the right, should really change his surname from Browne to Blue.

    On a related issue, the Licensing Laws brought in by Labour were a disaster in that local residents are now subject to more noise disturbance and anti social behaviour caused by late night licence extensions and my experience of attending licensing meetings over the years where neighbours are adversely affected bears testimony to this.

    It’s difficult to turn back the clock, the whole drinking culture needs changing but it should be far easier to challenge some pubs which cause persistent nuisance over a period of time than the current cumbersome procedure. When it comes to responsible drinking they have got it right in France and we could learn from them.

  • Hope all our many, many MPs who are leaving or will lose their seats next year have a job lined up.

  • They can always claim JSA like the rest of us. Oh I forgot Clegg as part of his welfare reforms wants it cut back.

  • Hopefully Jackie Ballard will stop Alcohol Concern printing such ludicrous blog articles on this one. The response they gave to my comment misses the point. The extract attacks anyone who drinks and they chose to post it.

  • Alcohol is a poison wth no health benefits.It’s about time its evils are recognised.A return to Temperance is very welcome.

  • Leekliberal 22nd Jun '14 - 6:46pm

    @theakes ‘ Hope all our many, many MPs who are leaving or will lose their seats next year have a job lined up.’ and @david. Can’t you find anything even slightly constructive to say?

  • Caron Lindsay 21st Jun ’14 – 1:44pm
    Jackie got my first preference in that leadership election – I think my list went Ballard, Bruce, Rendel, Hughes, Kennedy.

    Jackie Ballard was my first preference too. Charles Kennedy was my last preferences. But he turned out to be the most successful Liberal Leader at any General Election since the 1920s. That was in the days before the decline that began in December 2007. I still think Jackie would have been a fantastic leader and it was a huge loss to UK politics and to Taunton when thenTories used underhand tactics to take the seat temporarily. It is a very interesting time to become CEO of Alcohol Concern.

  • Matt Hemsley 23rd Jun '14 - 11:23am


    I can think of many other things with no health benefits – for example, driving a car. Should those also be banned?

    FWIW, I agree with Gareth Epps, largely. Alcohol Concern has always struck me as a deeply illiberal organisation, that spends its time doing and arguing for the wrong things. Would be good if that changed.

  • Max Wilkinson 23rd Jun '14 - 11:57am


    The Temperance movement, especially when it seeks to prohibit alcohol consumption entirely, strikes me as entirely illiberal. The fact that a few people cannot cope shouldn’t mean that the many who enjoy a few drinks are persecuted.

    I’m sure alcohol can produce undesirable consequences (evil?) but so can driving (as pointed out above) and plenty of other pursuits. Should we ban grassroots rugby because of the comparatively high injury rates? That would be ridiculous.

    Each of us should continue to enjoy booze if we like it, or abstain if we don’t, and we should all tolerate each other’s choices.

  • Max Wilkinson 23rd Jun '14 - 11:58am

    P.S. Good luck to Jackie Ballard. I hope she will make Alcohol Concern a more reasonable outfit.

  • No not on the licensing laws as I’ve seen the effects of it where I live and it can be a real problem in towns and cities where pubs have licence extensions or very late licences then you get all the anti social behaviour that follows. As a representative of a residents group in my area I get very many complaints about anti social behaviour, vandalism, urinating in people’s gardens etc and try to help tackle it – is that a problem for you? And my last post was very positive about Jackie Ballard, nothing negative about that?

  • David White 23rd Jun '14 - 2:32pm

    Well done Jackie Ballard and good fortune – you’ll need it!

  • Jackie Ballard 14th Jul '14 - 8:41am

    Thank you to friends past and present for your kind comments about my time in politics – I like to think that having been a town, District and County Councillor, my contribution to the Lib Dems went much deeper than a short stint at Westminster! I have thoroughly enjoyed making a positive difference over the past 12 years in the charity sector and hope to do the same at Alcohol Concern.
    Best wishes

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