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 enjoying said practice) and those who look confused and say “you’re supposed to iron these things” (like Stephen Tall and I).

She reckons women won’t want to give up their maternity leave and even if they did, they’d make the dad’s life a misery.

Jones, you might have gathered, is not a fan of the idea of shared parental leave. She doesn’t seem to be a fan of women either, suggesting that their working life consists of drinking lattes and chatting. It’s particularly ironic given that she’s attacking Jo Swinson, whose capacity for work puts most of us to shame.

Jones then makes constant references to women over-eating and describes maternity leave thus:

…spending the day wondering what pattern to have on the cupcake cases. They want to iron tea towels. They enjoy comparing stretch marks.

Clearly this can only have been written by someone who has no idea how to look after a baby and how all-consuming it can be. I suppose we can’t blame her too much for that. How many times have you heard of a partner coming home, confronting a scene that looks like it stepped out of a disaster movie and berating the one who’s been at home with the child for doing nothing all day? It’s not an uncommon perception.

What I can’t forgive, though,  is this:

This is an age-old debate, but it seems to me the women on the side of taking a year off are finally winning, and even enlisting male recruits, thanks to Jo Swinson, who shouldn’t really  be having sex – let alone procreating – given she has chosen a career where the future of this country is in her hands.

Nobody would ever say that a male minister should live a celibate lifestyle while in office.

That was a step too far for Jo, who tweeted:

Good for her. This sort of nonsense needs to be challenged.


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

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  • “…eight months pregnant and also an Equalities Minister (in that order!)…”?

    No, she was an equalities minister before being eight months pregnant (and before seven months, and…).

    I’m only reacting to your selective quotes, but it wouldn’t be good for my health to read the whole article so I’m content with that. Do people like Liz Jones actually exist, or is she a parodic creation?

  • Liberal Neil 1st Dec '13 - 4:44pm

    I assumed Liz Jones was a very clever parody.

    Then I remembered that it was The Daily Mail.

    Shared Parental leave sounds like a great idea to me. Just sad that it has come too late for me.

  • Richard Dean 1st Dec '13 - 5:28pm

    People like Liz Jones do exist, and they need our help. Most of us interpret the world around us in terms of our own experiences – often we see only what is in ourselves, not what is really there. In making her comment that Jo shouldn’t really be having sex, Liz is probably describing herself – either willing herself to suppress sex in favour of her career as a newspaper columnist, or criticising herself for having sex when she “should” be working. Whatever her problem is, her article is best interpreted as a cry for help, and I hope someone responds appropriately.

  • Steve Comer 1st Dec '13 - 5:31pm

    I think the ‘Liz Jones’ column is the same person who writes the sketches for ‘Al Murray the Pub Landlord!’……….Oh hell its in the Daily Mail so it may not be a parody……scary!

  • It’s a wicked thing to own up to, but my first thoughts were that maybe it was Ms Jones parents who should have abstained some time ago….

    As for Jo Swinson, she is a hard working Mother, who has succeeded in he chosen field and is demonstrating as good a work life balance as that profession allows. This seems like a pretty good role model to her children to me, different to the traditional model but just as good.

  • Peter Tyzack 1st Dec '13 - 7:51pm

    What does Duncan have to say about it..?

  • Liz Jones hates women, men, children, fat people, thin people, rich people, poor people, and herself. Don’t give her any more of an audience than she deserves.

  • @Steve – remember that the Daily Mail thinks that Al Murray’s Pub Landlord is a reasonable, sensible person (pint of bitter for the gents, glass of dry white wine for the ladies….)

  • Simon Banks 2nd Dec '13 - 9:31am

    As Caron suggests, some newspaper columnists exist to offend people. By so doing they obtain responses which get an angry exchange going, since those who think the nastiness is absolutely right will feel offended by the ripostes.

    The leave policy is excellent, and though as has been pointed out it will run into practical difficulties with unsympathetic employers, it’s a vital blow for equality.

    However, we do need to look at how employers react. I worked for three-and-a-half years for a public authority with a good equal opportunities policy on employment and with rather more female managers than male. During that time two fellow-managers took maternity leave. One was squeezed out through her job being abolished while she was away and then reinvented for someone else. The other returned to find her job totally changed against her will and without asking her views. She complained to the top and got it reversed.

    There are legal recourses, but they’re not widely known, unions even where they exist are often not well-informed on equality law and equality agencies are underfunded.

  • I hadn’t realised that those who read the Mail were supposed to take anything in it seriously and I’m surprised at Jo Swinson and Caron Lindsay for apparently having done so.
    It’s clear what Liz Jones problem is , she has recognsed it herself :-
    ‘My whole anti-mums thing is jealousy. I’ve got nothing. Just work’
    Why are we bothering about what this poor woman thinks ?

  • Matthew Huntbach 2nd Dec '13 - 1:34pm

    A fun game to play with the Daily Mail is to imagine the article of outrage it would write if it decided to take the opposite line. Remember, its only consistent line is that all politicians are bad people, but right-wing ones are less bad than left-wing ones. So, imagine there was a proposal from any politician apart from a right-wing Tory to restrict maternity leave, how would the Daily Mail respond? It would be written up as an outrageous lefty attack on the family, typical of all lefty politicians who hate families and want us all to live in Marxist communes. Imagine that paternity leave existed and there was a proposal to take it away – it would be an outrageous lefty attack on marriage, obviously due to lefties wanting all women to be single mothers. Etc etc.

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