Tag Archives: Jo Swinson

WATCH Jo Swinson talk about her Tech Commission

Here’s Jo Swinson talking about the first meeting of the Lib Dem Tech Commission which she hosted on Friday:

Here’s what she said in her article for this site:

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Jo Swinson MP writes…Lib Dem Tech Commission is ready and raring to go

Today I’m hosting the first meeting of the Liberal Democrats’ Tech Commission: an impressive mix of tech experts, academics and thinkers exploring the key challenges and opportunities of technology for our country 

We are at the height of a technological revolution that is transforming the world around us at a head-spinning pace. Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are opening up possibilities that until recently were the realm of science fiction.

But, just as I am hopeful about the opportunities this latest revolution brings, I am also cautious about the problems and risks it will throw up, as I explained in my speech at our Brighton Conference earlier this year.  

This is why I decided to set up the Tech Commission. Over the last couple of months, I have been assembling a stellar line-up of experts to develop innovative policies for how the UK can be a global leader in new technologies and how we can ensure the benefits of these technologies are fairly shared across the country. 

Chairing the group will be Professor Sue Black OBE, a computer scientist who led the campaign to save Bletchley Park, the site of WW2 codebreakers. I am really looking forward to working with Sue, and I am so pleased she has agreed to lend us her knowledge and experience.   

The Commission will focus on three key questions:

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Jo Swinson’s book nominated for an award

Jo Swinson’s Equal Power was one of my best reads of this year. I have now bought or won four copies of the thing – one on my Kindle, one real one and two to give away. Last weekend, I spent a small fortune on yet another at the Edinburgh West dinner. It is a book that everyone should read. It’s not just a book, it’s an action plan. Jo is never one to underestimate anyone’s capacity for work, so she shows us how we can be the change we want to see.

So I’m chuffed to see that Equal Power has made the shortlist in the “Best Non Fiction by a Parliamentarian” category in the Parliamentary Book Awards 2018. The awards ceremony will be held on 4th December and the winners will be chosen by parliamentarians themselves.  The 11 shortlisted books are as follows:

Best Memoir by a Parliamentarian

  • The Power of Politicians by Tessa Jowell, and Frances D’ Souza, edited and with an introduction by Claire Foster-Gilbert (Haus Publishing (published with the Westminster Abbey Institute))
  • In My Life: A Music Memoir by Alan Johnson (Transworld)
  • Confession of a Recovering MP by Nick de Bois (Biteback)
  • Confessions of a Political Maverick by Austin Mitchell (Biteback)

Best Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian

  • Equal Power: Gender Equality and How to Achieve It by Jo Swinson (Atlantic)
  • Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women by Helena Kennedy (Random House)
  • Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future by Ruth Davidson (Hodder)
  • Adam Smith: What He Thought, and Why it Matters by Jesse Norman (Penguin)
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Lib Dems could double Holyrood seats according to new poll

Well, this looks interesting…

I know, I know, it’s only a poll, but an almost doubling of support for us should encourage Scottish Lib Dems to get campaigning.

The Survation poll for the Daily Record shows what could be on offer for the Scottish Liberal Democrats and should give the party confidence. The findings echo what people are finding on the doorsteps.

For a few fraught years, …

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Like me, Jacinda Ardern took her baby to work and was met with ignorance

Last week Jacinda Ardern proved that when you are a mother, people will criticise you whatever you do. The moral of that story is that you should make the decisions that suit your family.

Jo Swinson wrote for the Guardian about her and Jacinda’s experiences and how they show we still have a long way to go to deal with discrimination in the workplace.

She highlighted the chorus of disapproval that she and Jacinda had been put through:

Yet along with the warm headlines came the inevitable snarky comments from the political world, and the constant judgment by others that is a hallmark of motherhood. Ardern was criticised for the cost of plane tickets after she made a special one-day trip to the Pacific Islands Forum in order to accommodate breastfeeding her baby, then 11 weeks old. Her daughter had to stay at home because she was too young for the necessary vaccinations, so her options were to either not go at all, or go for only a short time. Ardern summed it up perfectly: “If I didn’t go, I imagine there would have been equal criticism. Damned if I did, damned if I didn’t.”

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Lib Dems mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month

It’s just a few short month since Jo Swinson lost her dad, Peter, to Blood Cancer. I met Peter many times while helping out with Jo’s campaigns over the years. He was such a lovely, kind man who was clearly so proud of her. Both he and her Mum Annette put so much effort into supporting Jo and having their home taken over by all sorts of random Lib Dems over the years. They were always so friendly and welcoming to us.

Jo ran the London Marathon and raised thousands of pounds for Bloodwise back in 2011. This just shows Jo’s indefatigability. Looking back on it, I’ve just realised that this was a few a few weeks before the 2011 Holyrood election and a few more weeks before her wedding.

What she chose not to share publicly at that point is that Peter had been diagnosed with Blood Cancer in 2008. He kept in reasonably good health until 2015 but then had to undergo several gruelling rounds of treatment.

Yesterday, Jo took over the Bloodwise Twitter account to tell her family’s story.

She talked about the impact of the initial diagnosis:

More spells of chemo and new diagnoses followed, but he saw a happy occasion earlier this year:

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LibLink: Jo Swinson Parental pay transparency would do wonders for workplace equality – but the government need to take action

This week, Jo Swinson has persuaded 10 major firms to share their parental leave policies as a key element in the fight against maternity discrimination. Jo, who introduced shared parental leave as a Business Minister, now wants companies to go further to encourage employees and attract more people to work for them:

She wrote for the Independent about why this was so important:

A new mother forced to resign after being bombarded with texts and emails telling her she “obviously can’t work with two kids”. Another one who returns to work to find herself reapplying for her job after a company restructure.

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Jo Swinson’s speech to conference – in full

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WATCH: Jo Swinson on cheating pairs, adorable babies and the realities of working and breastfeeding

Here’s Jo Swinson’s speech in the debate on allowing proxy voting for MPs who have had babies.

It was one of the most real and honest speeches I’ve ever heard. Jo talked about her fury when Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis broke their pairing arrangement in July to vote in a key Brexit vote.

She also spoke about some of the appalling comments she got on Twitter after that, including the criticism that she had gone to the Trump demo for 45 minutes but couldn’t manage to vote in Parliament, something which would have meant hanging around for 5 hours.

Jo talked about the intricacies of establishing breastfeeding and how you need to concentrate on it during the early days. Her voice cracked with emotion as she talked about the difficulties she had establishing breastfeeding with her first son. I actually cried too as I remembered what it was like to be syringing expressed milk into my baby, 19 years on. She got there, though, with all the support that she needed.

She was also open about the realities of expressing milk several times a day. I think it’s fantastic that she posted a picture of her breast pump on Instagram the other day.

She talked about the need to have proper breastfeeding and expressing facilities for all nursing babies who work on the Parliamentary estate, recognising it was easier for her as she had her own office and control over her diary.

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Jo Swinson: Why I’m voting for our bold new immigration policy

Over the past few weeks, the debate on our immigration policy has unfolded on these pages and elsewhere. I’ve read with interest the arguments on both sides, and now I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why I’ll be supporting that motion in Brighton on Sunday.

Before delving into the detail of the policy, it’s worth considering the big picture, and the recent troubling developments that form the backdrop to this debate.

Look across Europe, where anti-immigration populists have risen to government in Italy, Poland and Austria. Hungarian nationalist Viktor Orbán won another landslide victory in April; his ally …

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Jo Swinson on the lack of urgency to change Parliament’s voting system

Jo was understandably furious when her pairing arrangement with the Tory chair, Brandon Lewis, was violated. She spoke about the experience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival yesterday evening.

According to the Express and Star, she said:

The mechanism of pairing is outdated and just doesn’t work.

We need a different system, which would be proxy voting, so that when you had an MP that was on parental leave, they would entrust another MP of their choice to vote on their behalf.

This is something that the House of Commons actually discussed earlier this year, and one of the committees went away and did a lot of work on how technically that could work, and produced some motions that parliament could vote on.

But those changes have been “kicked into the long grass” by the Government.

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Dinosaur found at Westminster

The BBC’s Nicholas Watt seems to have been trawling the bars of the Parliamentary Estate looking for dinosaurs. And he struck gold.

Oh.My.Days.

I have a list of suspects, although that grows exponentially if we’re including Lords.

I have been saying for a while that we should paint in primary colours, that we should say what we really feel and not be too subtle.

Our Press Office stepped up to that plate tonight. Do not read on if you are easily offended.

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Leadsom, Lewis and Smith in trouble over Jo Swinson pairing scandal

Remember when the Tories cheated in order to win the tight vote in Parliament, just like Vote Leave cheated to win the EU Referendum?

Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis, paired with Jo Swinson who was at home with her two week old baby, should not have voted on Tuesday night. He honoured that in the first few, but in the really crucial ones, on the European Medicines Agency (which the Government lost) and the customs union, (which the Government narrowly won), he cast his vote. Now, had he voted in the earlier divisions, Alistair Carmichael, our Chief Whip, might have noticed …

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Tories cheat like a Vote Leave campaign over crucial customs union vote

This country is currently on a path to economic self-destruction because of a narrow vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Today we discovered that the Vote Leave campaign had cheated. And, by the way, that monumental news isn’t even on the BBC’s front page any more.

Tonight, this country was helped along its path to economic self-destruction  because of a narrow vote – 307-301 against an amendment which would have kept us in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. The desperate Tory government pulled a particularly dirty trick to win that vote.

The pairing system has long been a civilising feature of our Parliament. When an MP is indisposed for some reason or needs a night off, they can be paired with an MP who would vote the opposite way. Imagine the sorts of circumstances that you might need that in – maybe a dying parent, or a sick child, or your own illness, or being on maternity leave. Tonight, Jo Swinson, whose baby is just two weeks old, was paired with Conservative Party chair Brandon Lewis. He voted in the crunch votes. He didn’t vote in the earlier votes.  Jo was justifiably furious:

The incident even got a Twitter moment.

After a couple of hours, Lewis tweeted that it had been an honest mistake:

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Swinson: President’s Club trustees should be disqualified for sickening culture of sexual harassment

Back in January, the FT exposed a disgusting culture of sexual harassment at an annual gathering of rich men held under the auspices of a charity.

Madison Marriage’s report outlined some of the abuse that these women had to put up with:

Over the course of six hours, many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester.

Many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester

Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.

At the time, Jo Swinson called for the Charity Commission to investigate. They have now produced their report which states that women were let down but doesn’t deliver much in the way of consequences.

From The Guardian:

They were also found to have not done enough to prevent staff being harassed or to have investigated the allegations properly afterwards.

“The trustees thought insufficiently about the welfare of the women hired to work at their charity’s event while taking careful steps to protect the privacy of the male guests attending the dinner,” said the regulator’s chief executive, Helen Stephenson.

“Charities and their fundraising events should be places were all people are protected from harm, and where all people are treated with respect and care. It is clear from our findings that the trustees of the Presidents Club failed to put the proper steps in place to ensure the dinner fully met those expectations.”

Jo has said that the President’s Club trustees should have been disqualified from taking on a similar role in another charity in the future:

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Jo Swinson tweets first picture of baby Gabriel and his loving big brother

This will absolutely warm your heart.

Lovely to see young Andrew Hames embracing his wee baby brother, Gabriel.

All our very best wishes to Jo, Duncan Andrew and Gabriel.

Vince was bowled over by the photo too.

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All the best, Jo…

This afternoon, MPs who really shouldn’t have been in the House of Commons, either through very advanced pregnancy or serious illness, had to go in and vote on that Brexit amendment.

One of them was our Jo Swinson, who is two days past her due date with her second baby. It is entirely unsurprising that she made it in to vote. Anyone who knows how committed and determined she is will know that unless she was in fairly advanced labour, she would made it. She still deserves respect for doing so. Most women have stopped going into the office …

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Christine Jardine to cover foreign affairs during Jo Swinson’s maternity leave

Christine Jardine will be covering the Foreign Affairs brief during Jo Swinson’s imminent maternity leave and said she was glad of the chance to continue Jo’s work:

I am delighted to be trusted with this important role. It is an area in which I have always been interested in and I look forward to continuing Jo’s good work.

Jo knows her job is in good hands:

I’m delighted that Christine will be keeping my desk warm and I’m sure she will do a brilliant job making thoughtful interventions on foreign policy.

The forthcoming visit of Donald Trump will give Christine many opportunities to put …

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Seven steps you can take to fight Brexit

Jo Swinson has written for the New European on Brexit. In the style of her excellent book, Equal Power, she explains the problem and then gives you a whole list of things you can do about it.

We wake up to headlines every day which emphasise the many reasons why Brexit is a bad idea. As well as one of the key protagonists and funders of a Leave campaign having more contact with the authoritarian Russian Government than is seemly (for the avoidance of doubt, none would be seemly), the Government’s own papers suggesting we’d run out of

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Lib Dem MPs support abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland

Three Liberal Democrat MPs took part in yesterday’s Commons debate on giving women in Northern Ireland access to legal and safe abortions without having to travel. The recent vote to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution, paving the way for legislation allowing abortion up to 12 weeks in Ireland and the provisions of the 1967 Act in the rest of the UK. The issue has been devolved to the Northern Ireland assembly since 2003, but that Assembly is not currently sitting. The Irish referendum and a UN report from earlier this year which stated that:

the situation in

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Jo debates abortion

There was a lively debate between Jo Swinson and Jacob Rees-Mogg concerning abortion on Tuesday’s Daily Politics. Here is a link if you’d like to have a look.

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Will MPs finally get parental leave?

Jo Swinson is expecting her second baby this Summer. As Minister, she made sure that everyone else had the option to share their parental leave with their partner in a way that suits them.

Men and women will no longer be tied to what history dictates their traditional roles should be with mum holding the baby while dad goes out to work.  Parenting is a shared endeavour and now dads have the opportunity to spend more time with their new baby in those vital early weeks.

Shared parental leave is my proudest achievement in government, and I’m delighted that it is

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Jo Swinson: I’ll take my baby in a sling to protest Trump

When Donald Trump visits the UK on Friday 13th July, many Liberal Democrats will take to the streets to protest against the racist, misogynist, transphobic, views he holds and the actions he has taken in Government to undermine human rights.

On today’s Peston on Sunday, Lib Dem Deputy Leader Jo Swinson said that, if she’s able, she’ll be among them, just as she was on the Women’s March last year the day after the inauguration.

Her baby will be just weeks old at that time and she says that she’ll take the wee one to the march in a sling because he is anathema to British values of respect for others.

She also talked about our prospects in the local elections. Vince had been quite modest about it on Marr and Jo continued in the same vein. She said that we were looking to get a foothold back in areas where we had been wiped out four years ago. She added what we are all experiencing – that our reception on the doorsteps is much friendlier and enthusiastic than it was then.

On Amber Rudd, she was clear that if the Home Secretary had misled Parliament, then she would need to go. She also said that Cabinet Ministers don’t see every memo and what we really needed to do was to have a positive debate on the benefits of immigration.

She was on Sunday Politics later on with Brexiteer Bernard Jenkin talking about the customs union.

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Let’s not forget that the Gender Pay Gap reporting requirement is Jo’s Law

There was an urgent question in the House of Commons today about the Gender Pay Gap. Harriet Harman asked the Government what it was doing to close the gender pay gap after companies with more than 250 employees were required to report for the first time.

The minister Victoria Atkins was very supportive of the legislation. If you didn’t know better, you might be inclined to think that the Tories had introduced it:

It is unacceptable that in 2018 there are still differences in how men and women are paid in business and in industries. That is why this Government introduced new regulations, which came into force in 2017, requiring all employers with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gap. I am delighted that as of yesterday 10,055 employers, covering all sectors of the economy, have reported their gender pay gap. These new regulations have shone a light on the injustice that has existed for too long and created a new conversation on the need for a step change in gender equality.

This is all very well, except the truth of the matter is that in the dying days of the Coalition Government, the Tories had to be dragged kicking and screaming to agree to the Liberal Democrats’ plan. Jo Swinson was the Liberal Democrat Minister who introduced the legislation and she reminded the Commons of that today:

The reason why I fought so hard as a Minister in the coalition Government to win the battle to introduce gender pay gap reporting—despite the Minister’s obvious commitment to this today, my goodness it was a battle with No.10 at the time—is that the visibility and transparency of hard numbers help to pierce the bubble of complacency in boardrooms, in newsrooms and in our living rooms where some people still think that we live in a world of gender equality. What concrete action are the Government taking to help employers understand that the gender pay gap is about unequal pay and so much more? It is about the fact that jobs in care and other roles are undervalued and low paid because they are predominantly done by women. It is about the 54,000 women a year who lose their job because they have a baby. It is about the toxic workplace cultures where the boys’ clubs make the decisions and sexual harassment is endemic. Time is up on pathetic excuses. It is time that organisations got serious about action.

Ms Atkins was forced to admit Jo’s role:

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So who’s missing from the coverage of the #genderpaygap?

There’s someone missing in amongst all the coverage of the gender pay gap today.

It’s not entirely surprising that in 78% of companies men are paid more than women. However until recently, we didn’t have the evidence.

Thanks to a law passed in 2015, the facts have been laid bare. Companies have to face the uncomfortable truth about the disproportionate number of men in senior positions.

Much of the copious coverage of this today has missed something, though.

This crucial step forward was secured by none other than:

On  24th March 2015, Jo announced that she and Nick Clegg had worn the Tories down on this in the dying days of the Coalition. She wrote this article for LDV telling the story of how she did it.  Here’s that whole article:

In the final days of this Government Lib Dems are still delivering our agenda against the odds, and against Conservative obstruction.

Under the coalition government the gender pay gap had fallen to its lowest level, at just under 20% – but this is still 19.1% too high. Despite our high levels of women’s employment the UK has the 8th highest gender pay gap in the EU.

Not only is the gender pay gap socially wrong in modern society, but economically it’s nonsensical not to reward our most talented female employees properly. We should value the contribution of women and men in the workplace equally, so our goal has to be eliminating the pay gap completely.

As a Business Minister and Minister for Women, I have worked very hard to persuade my Coalition colleagues of the virtues of tough action to tackle this long-term inequality. Their traditional resistance makes it all the more remarkable that Nick Clegg has, in the last few weeks of our term, secured a government amendment that guarantees all large businesses will have to publish the difference between average pay for their male and female staff. So today (Tuesday) I will proudly vote for our party’s manifesto commitment – for large companies to publish the difference in average pay between male and female employees – to become law.

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Jo Swinson on leadership, the importance of humility and meeting a hero

This afternoon, Jo Swinson will be speaking at the “Aye Write” book festival in Glasgow.

Ahead of that, she gave a long interview to the Sunday Herald. Here are some of the highlights:

She talked about how the author of the book she had requested as a prize at school had got in touch with her:

When Jo Swinson was a teenager, studying at Douglas Academy in Milngavie, she was awarded the Senior Dux prize for achievement, and was given a trophy plus a book of her choice. What she opted for, as she describes in her book Equal Power: And How You Can Make It Happen, was a popular title by Kate White, a journalist who would later go on to edit Cosmopolitan. It was called Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead But Gutsy Girls Do.

Swinson croons her enthusiasm when I mention the book. Recently, she tells me, she gave it a mention in a World Book Day article and as a result the author got in touch with her. “I’m just so over the moon about this,” says Swinson. “I got this email from her last week, out of the blue, saying I’m so touched that this book made such an impact. She said she’d like to meet up for a coffee. I’m so beside myself with excitement that I’ll have to try not to be a dreadful fan girl.”

She also explained why she had not gone for the Lib Dem leadership last year.

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Swinson: EU nationals won’t be convinced by Labour

Buzzfeed has done an analysis of our prospects in this May’s elections. They talked to former LDV co-editor Mark Pack and the party’s Deputy Leader Jo Swinson.

The Party is going after EU Nationals’ votes and has invested in a series of social media adverts targeted at various nationalities.

Swinson said EU nationals would not be convinced by Labour’s stance. “They are pretty furious at the current government and also not too impressed with Labour’s position because Labour are really letting the government off the hook when it comes to Brexit,” she said.

“In terms of the front benches and the direction

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Jo Swinson calls on Boris to stand up to Saudi ruler

Back in the day, Vince Cable, then acting leader, famously  boycotted the state visit of the Saudi King 

At the time, he said that

I think it’s quite wrong that as a country we should give the leader of Saudi Arabia this honour.”

He said that although Britain has a “business-like” relationship with the country, Britain would not dream of extending the same invitation to other controversial leaders like Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi..

Eleven years on, the party is still calling out the appalling human rights record of the Saudi Government. Jo Swinson today lambasted Boris on the eve of the visit of the ruling Saudi Prince. She said:

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Jo Swinson is right on Thatcher statue – women’s achievements must be remembered

I was incensed to read this article in the Independent about our 30th anniversary. It’s based on interviews with 2 former leaders, Tim Farron and Paddy Ashdown and with one other person, Nick Clegg’s former staffer, James McGrory.

In the whole article, there isn’t even the merest hint of a mention of the women who helped build this party. Nothing about Shirley Williams. Nothing about Diana Maddock’s amazing victory in the 1993 Christchurch by-election. Nothing about Sandra Gidley’s unexpected victory in Romsey in 2000. Nothing about Sarah Teather’s ground-breaking by-election victory in Brent in the wake of the Iraq war. Nothing about Sarah Olney’s by-election victory showing we were back in the game. Nothing about Jo Swinson building up a seat and winning it at 25 and subsequently becoming the first Lib Dem woman to attend Cabinet. Nothing about our Presidents Shirley, Diana, Ros Scott and Sal Brinton. Nothing about how Lynne Featherstone built up her Hornsey and Wood Green seat. Nothing about the present day Lib Dem campaigners like Elaine Bagshaw.

I’m also updating this to add Kirsty Williams as per the first comment. She served the party so well as Welsh leader and is currently our only Lib Dem member of a Government. Her pioneering More Nurses law made Welsh hospitals safer.

Women have been at the forefront of some of the party’s most pivotal moments. Why not talk to some of them? I have come up with ten of them off the top of my head in about half a minute.

And if we think that’s bad, the article about our history on our own party website doesn’t mention a woman until its penultimate paragraph.

It was ever thus. A bloke does something and there’s statues everywhere. A woman takes a major step forward and does not get the same recognition. I loathe and detest virtually everything Margaret Thatcher stood for, but she was the first woman Prime Minister of this country.  Thatcher got me into politics because I so passionately opposed what she was doing to the country. That’s why I agree with Jo Swinson, who argues in today’s Mail on Sunday that Thatcher should have a statue in Parliament Square:

Maybe they think one out of twelve is enough, that they’ve ticked the woman box with the addition of Millicent Fawcett?

Apparently one of the reasons given for refusal was the state robes Thatcher would have been wearing.

Even in death, it seems there are no limits to how society judges women by how they look and what they wear.

She went on to say what Thatcher being PM told her:

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Former Watford Green candidate joins Lib Dems, praising Mayoral candidate Peter Taylor

Former Watford parliamentary candidate for the Greens, Alex Murray, has joined the Liberal Democrats and was welcomed to the Party by Deputy Leader Jo Swinson, Party Chair Ian Stotesbury and Mayoral candidate Peter Taylor.

From the Watford Observer:

Alex Murray, who challenged for the Watford seat at the 2017 General Election, defected to the Lib Dems after witnessing the party’s work in his hometown.

He said: “I have been impressed with the record of the Liberal Democrat team locally.

“They have improved parks and open spaces and we have an excellent recycling service.

“I am pleased that their mayoral candidate, Peter Taylor, has put improving bus services and introducing a bike hire scheme at the top of his list of priorities.

“At a national level I support the party’s commitment to let the people have their say on the Brexit deal.”

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