Jo, you smashed that glass ceiling! Thank you!

It’s fair to say that these have been a disappointing set of election results. I don’t want to get into the election campaign itself, but instead I want to thank Jo Swinson.

I am beyond proud of the leadership Jo has provided in these volatile political times. Her dedication to upholding and defending liberal values in the face of extremist politics has not gone unnoticed and has set an example for all of us. Although her leadership of the Liberal Democrats was short-lived, she has been an extraordinary leader, and I truly mean that. She has provided a home for millions of Remainers and given a voice to all of those who want to fight for liberal values and build a fairer and more equal society.

I first met Jo properly at a climate strike in London in February this year and was then privileged to be part of her leadership campaign team. In the short time I’ve known Jo, her dedication to the Liberal Democrat cause has shone through. She is one of the most honourable and decent politicians of our time. I know Jo as someone who, regardless of popularity, always stays true to her values, questions the way things are and doesn’t just settle for the status quo. She never compromises on what she believes in and consistently has the best interests of others at heart. I am proud of the campaign she ran – it was bold, energetic and inspiring. She never avoided scrutiny, faced tough audiences and questions and was at the receiving end of a lot of abuse, often underlined by a repulsive tone of misogyny. That ‘girly swot’ stood her ground and definitely didn’t let anything stop her.

As Jo said in her speech to party members the day after the election, “One of the realities of smashing glass ceilings is that a lot of broken glass comes down on your head” – boy did she smash that glass ceiling. She became the first woman to lead the Liberal Democrats, brought in MPs who had been abandoned by their old parties, gave a home to those who wanted to stop Brexit and fearlessly led the Liberal Democrats into the election campaign – for that, we owe Jo an enormous debt of gratitude. I can say proudly with great conviction that my faith in Jo has certainly not been misplaced.

When you lose an election, you don’t just throw in the towel, give up and walk away – you stick to your principles and keep fighting for what you believe in. That’s what I’m determined to do. It is in that spirit that I am urging everyone to keep the faith and carry on, after a well-deserved break, of course. This is not the end. The fight for a more open and inclusive society continues, and knowing Jo, she will be right there fighting for it with us.

I can only hope in my heart that Jo returns to frontline politics. At a time when waves of nationalism are engulfing our politics, we need strong, liberal and progressive voices more than ever.

Jo – thank you for everything you have done – for inspiring me and millions of others to fight for a better future for our country, for making sure we can say that we were there and stood up to be counted, for listening, caring and being a friend. I am eternally grateful, so from the bottom of my heart – thank you!

 

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10 Comments

  • @Dominic

    “”””[Jo] never compromises on what she believes in””””

    In as much this can be said to be a flattering platitude, in this context it acts as a disservice to Jo. The overwhelmingly majority of legislation passed during the coalition I agree with. However voting for the “Justice and Security Act 2013” (the ‘secret courts’ law) was appalling.

    Since Jo didnt vote against this legislation, she either ‘compromised what she believes in’ or she actually believed in that piece of legislation. The first option goes against your claim, and the second option doesn’t paint her in a favourable light.

    At the end of day, being a Minister in a coalition government (as Jo was) involves compromises. That’s normal and expected and Jo had to compromise regularly what she believed in. This isn’t a criticism of Jo, because compromise is part of life. It’s a criticism of your claim that she “never compromises”. As I said, a well meaning platitude, but in reality people who never compromise on anything they believe in, achieve very little in real life. Jo achieved many things and she did so by compromise. In purist circles, compromise is a dirty word, and we all saw where this sort of uncompromising purism got Jeremy Corbyn.

  • Thanks Dominic, I agree with everything you say.

    I really appreciate everything that Jo has done and it has been considerable. As we take this time to reflect on lessons learnt from the election it’s essential we remember to cherish the good as well as identify what needs to change, and accept that some things were out of our control and/or impossible to predict with confidence.

    I’ve seen some complain that there was too much focus on ‘identify politics’, and my youngish female heart sinks each time someone says that. Not least because it’s usually said by an older straight white man who has never had to wait for a man to repeat his suggestion earlier before others think it a good idea. As I said elsewhere, voters and key media players also include older straight white men who don’t see the fuss, and we therefore can’t pretend that point of view doesn’t exist, but nor should we be dictated by it. Jo was a breath of fresh air for this party and helped to move us forward and appeal to a part of the electorate that would otherwise have dismissed us.

    I’m also minded of the Serenity Prayer, now most commonly associated with Alcoholics Anonymous:

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

    It sounds simple when you read it, but that last part is especially difficult. Jo showed great courage and has already changed a lot of things some thought impossible. We need to ensure she is given credit for that.

    I wouldn’t feel right offering any suggestions on what Jo does next, except that I do hope she stays in politics, or at least returns following a brief break.

  • Linda Dickins 15th Dec '19 - 10:23am

    Thanks for being you Jo. X x x

  • Graham Jeffs 15th Dec '19 - 10:24am

    ‘Bold energetic and inspiring’

    Clearly it wasn’t the latter. I’m sorry for JS on a purely personal level but the campaign was a disaster. Let’s not try and re-write history. I’m afraid she engendered very little rapport with the electorate. Maybe that wasn’t wholly her fault, but it was allowed to happen. Inept strategy, inept application, inept result.

  • Bernard Aris 15th Dec '19 - 1:01pm

    Jo,

    as Mark Pack noticed in his thank you LDV post om being chosen party president, behind the catastrophic commons seats result, there is a solid base on which to continue building the party:
    *) “Our increased share of the vote,
    *) more second places and
    *) enlarged party membership,
    *) added to the fantastic growth in our local government base earlier in the year,
    does, however, provide us with the foundations to recover from. (…)”.

    I know much of it started under Tim,s and Vince’s leadership, but Jo with her punchy style on TV and charm in personal meetings contributed a lot to those positive starting points.

    The fact that one pro-EU Scotish woman party leader set out , while proclaiming it was “all, all, all against Boris”, to scupper another pro-EU Scotish woman party leader is either stupid (it sapped activists away from other constituencies; eliminating ALL Tories would send a stronger signal than at present) or downwright malign: destroy the Unionist progressives standing next to you. From now on I have big problem who to trust less: Boris or Sturgeon.

  • Let’s not forget during her short time as leader she recruited some excellent MPs from other parties/independent groups. They all stood as Lib Dem candidates in the GE and achieved huge swings from scratch.

  • Laurence Cox 15th Dec '19 - 6:02pm

    @Bernard Aris
    Don’t think that just because Nicola Sturgeon and Jo Swinson are both pro-EU, we should expect any favours from the SNP. They are the ‘nasty party’ in Scotland and their behaviour towards Jo only mirrors what they did to Charlie Kennedy.

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-s-ian-blackford-accused-of-disfiguring-last-months-of-charles-kennedy-s-life-1-4776721

    I hope they will get their comeuppance when Alex Salmond’s case comes to trial early next year. They have already had to pay him over £500k for his legal costs related to how they investigated him:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/13/alex-salmond-awarded-512000-payout-after-botched-investigation

    and

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jan/24/alex-salmond-scotlands-former-first-minister-arrested

  • Yousuf Farah 15th Dec '19 - 8:51pm

    @Laurence Cox
    Their time will come; believe me, it will come. And when it does, I for one will be a very happy man.

  • David Greenwood 16th Dec '19 - 7:35am

    Have to disagree – JS has been a walking disaster for both the LDs and the Remain cause in general. Way too confrontational, a poor campaigner and lacking any strategic grasp, she thought that she had all the answers but it turned out that she had none. I am beyond angry that she blundered into giving Johnson and Cummings exactly what they wanted – a GE – when we had them cornered. And now we are at their tender mercies re: Brexit and much else – unbelievable!

  • I agree 100%. Jo is brilliant, was subject to some ridiculous misogyny (how many times did Johnson or Corbyn’s voice, clothes or age come up?), and despite the headline results there were some positives in there.

    Also on agreeing to an election – people forget Johnson had got his WAB approved and it was only the timing that was at issue.

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