Tag Archives: inside the commons

Jenny Willott on the Twitter abuse she got after Inside the Commons

A couple of weeks ago, Ruth Bright wrote of her admiration for Jenny Willott after seeing her and her family on the Inside the Commons series. I can only echo her sentiments after finally catching up with the programme late last night. What I saw was a happy family eating together, making a difficult work/life balance situation work in a way that suited them. Of course, I did wonder why Parliament couldn’t schedule its votes in a more family friendly manner and, why, in the 21st century, casting a vote requires running across your workplace then standing in a lobby for quarter of an hour, but that’s hardly Jenny’s fault.

I was appalled to see, from her speech to Welsh Liberal Democrat conference, that she’d taken some Twitter abuse after the programme was shown, as WalesOnline reports. 

The Liberal Democrat MP jokingly described herself to party activists as “the one with the child who screamed the place down when I left him in the whips office and went to vote”.

She said: “I’m also the one who got completely vilified on social media for daring to be a woman who wants to both work and have children. It’s absolutely amazing how many people thought it was okay to tell me my children would turn into delinquents, that I wasn’t up to the task of being an MP if I was also thinking about my children, that my children should be taken into social services care… that I was letting down my children and my constituents etc.”

She continued: “It’s extraordinary to think that even in 2015 there are plenty of people out there who think that women can’t be both MPs and have children successfully – I don’t hear any of them suggesting that men can’t be both MPs and have children.”

Ms Willott said her experiences made her “even more determined to show them how wrong they are,” adding: “It also proves to me that we need to get more women elected overall to change attitudes.”

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Opinion: In praise of Jenny Willott

Jenny Willott, Ruth and Orla Bright, 2004The Liberal Democrats of course have a dismal record electing women, particularly women with young children. We have, therefore, to be truly thankful to Jenny Willott (and her family) for salvaging our reputation in a single television programme. Last night on Michael Cockerell’s “Inside the Commons” we saw her juggling work and motherhood in a way that has rarely been portrayed so honestly. Seeing her collect her son from the House of Commons nursery (and then having to leave him on the lap of a colleague while rushing to an unexpected vote) might have made parliament seem remote. In fact many parents would have watched that scene and been reminded of their own work/family balancing act.

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