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 by the Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Willott will promote more family-friendly workplaces and tackle issues around discrimination. She is to attend the Cabinet when issues related to shared parental leave and workplace rights are on the agenda.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to tackle an issue I’m passionate about at the very heart of government,” said Ms Willott. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the Cabinet table to promote longstanding Liberal Democrat priorities such as making workplaces more family-friendly and closing the gender pay gap.”

Ms Willott, a mother of two, is covering the maternity leave of Jo Swinson, who is expected to return to her job of Business and Equalities minister later this year.

A “senior Liberal Democrat source” is quoted as saying:

A senior Lib Dem source said: “It will be great to have another Liberal Democrat voice around the cabinet table, especially when it’s as strong as Jenny or Jo’s.

“This is another boost for a big Liberal Democrat priority in the coalition government – family-friendly policies that make it easier for mums and dads to balance their work and home lives. In particular, Nick has asked Jenny and Jo to take a long, hard look at the gender pay gap to see what more the Government can be doing to close it.”

The Independent article takes no less than four pops at the party’s record on women. While these may sometimes be justified, much work has been done to ensure that women have been selected in winnable seats. It’s the job of the campaign to make sure that women like Sarah Yong, Christine Jardine, Layla Moran, Vikki Slade, and Lisa Smart get into the House of Commons. If we are in government, though, Nick will have to do better at securing gender balance amongst the ranks of our ministers.

In government, our record is one to be proud of. The fact is that Nick Clegg and Liberal Democrat ministers have been at the forefront of ensuring that the workplace becomes more equal for women with shared parental leave. Of course, implementing the policy is one thing, but it will need to be constantly evaluated to make sure it is having an impact. We will need to see senior men being willing to take time out for parental leave. Quentin Letts and the Daily Mail would no doubt go completely apoplectic at the sight of a male minister taking more than the usual two weeks’ paternity leave. That can only be a good thing.

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4 Comments

  • ” She will also attend future meetings when issues affecting women are discussed”, that would be all of them then…

  • Guy Preston 27th Apr '14 - 4:28pm

    It’s about time really. The lack of women reaching higher positions in the Lib Dems needs to come to an end, and this is a welcome development.

  • Ms Willott. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the Cabinet table to promote longstanding Liberal Democrat priorities….”

    Well that would be a real change.
    A Liberal Democrat promoting longstanding Liberal Democrat priorities ANYWHERE at the top of this coalition would be a breath of fresh air.

    Unfortunately, the facts completely justify The Independent having “pops” at the party over its record on women.
    Four years and how many women has Nick Clegg appointed to the Cabinet ministerial post?
    His record of appointments to the House of Lords over seven years is not much better. Male millionaires seem to be favoured over women.

    Am I the only person ?
    who cringed when they read the official party words on this —
    . “………,,,,.,,,,,, priorities such as making workplaces more family-friendly and closing the gender pay gap.”
    Ms Willott, a mother of two, is covering the maternity leave of Jo Swinson, who is expected to return to her job of Business and Equalities minister later this year.”

    Well thank goodness she is sticking to cuddly women’s issues and leaving all the manly stuff like defence and economics to the boys from Bullingdon.
    After all we want to stay ith’s centre between the UKIP attitude on women and the enlightened attitudes of the Golf Club.

  • daft ha'p'orth 29th Apr '14 - 11:31am

    @CarlN 27th Apr ’14 – 4:09pm
    ” She will also attend future meetings when issues affecting women are discussed”, that would be all of them then…

    Yes, my mind also boggles at that statement. It’s apparently easy to forget that the category ‘women’ includes half the human race. (Women, y’know, bless ’em and their ‘issues’, but they’re not really us, are they?) I look forward to the day when party publicity does not demonstrate a thought process along the lines of, ‘Wait! This MP has a vagina! Quick, to the spincave, where we must concoct a plausible excuse for her presence in Cabinet.’

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