Tag Archives: Jo Swinson

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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Jo Swinson on sexism, making space for learning and how equal power benefits us all

There’s a really good interview with Jo Swinson in online publication The Debrief. She talks about her book, Equal Power, and about how to combat the polarising culture we find ourselves in. Making time for learning is something she has found useful. Perhaps men who feel threatened by feminism might wish to approach the subject the way she approached the issue of racism by reading up and empathising with those who experience it. That, by the way, is something we should all think about in the wake of the Alderdice Review.

In our Twitter age…in this very polarised time where everything is painted in a very extreme light. It’s made to seem as though it’s one thing or its polar opposite but there has to be space for learning’. The truth is that the continuing fight for true equality between men and women is not, as Parris kept suggesting, about ‘winning’. Women’s equality will not be ‘won’ at the expense of men because a truly equal society will benefit us all.

A good example for the benefits of creating space for learning as opposed to polarising opposition, Swinson tells me was the impact of Renni Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race. After reading it, she says she is ‘much more aware of the privilege’ she has ‘as a white skinned person’. Reading the book did not make her defensive or protective of her privilege but instead made her think ‘oh my goodness have I been blind to injustice’. She explains ‘in the same way that I’ve not experienced discrimination or discrimination about my sexual orientation, I have to listen and learn to people who have and realise that privilege – it’s similar for men – they might get it, or they might not get it, but they want to – we need to speak with them, so they can learn – this is what I suggest in my book – talking to your male friends and colleagues about your experiences’. Even individual conversations within a personal circle of trust can be powerful, she says in helping people to understand power dynamics because ‘when it’s your friend, sister or daughter telling you it’s harder to dismiss and easier to understand.’

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Why it’s time to follow Jo’s lead in tackling sexist behaviour

When John Humphrys and Jon Sopel mocked the whole BBC gender pay gap controversy in the wake of Carrie Gracie’s resignation last month, they weren’t really held to account. There was no great show of remorse from them. The BBC could have taken them off air for a couple of days to underline that they were unimpressed with their behaviour. They and their sense of entitlement were pretty much left untouched.

Until today.

Jo Swinson was interviewed by John Humphrys about the new procedures to tackle sexual harassment and bullying in Parliament. At the end of the interview, this happened:

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Jo Swinson MP writes…Wringing our hands or shrugging our shoulders isn’t enough to fight discrimination

Editor’s Note: Out this month is Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson’s book Equal Power. Here she writes about the battle for equality and you can get her new book yourself from Amazon, Hive or The Guardian bookshop.

With rampant sexual harassment at a corporate charity dinner, the BBC accused of breaking equal pay law, and Easyjet’s new male CEO admitting he was offered £34,000 more to do the same job as his female predecessor, you don’t need to look far to find gender inequality in the news. And that’s just stories from one week.

When I was the Liberal Democrat Minister for Women, I learned that many seemingly different issues – the gender pay gap, violence against women, workplace discrimination, body image, division of caring responsibilities, gender stereotypes, women’s under-representation in politics – are all different parts of the same fiendishly difficult jigsaw. Tackling the problem of gender inequality means chipping away at all of these issues simultaneously because together they reinforce the entrenched power imbalance between men and women.

The backlash in the letters page of the Financial Times last week showed what we’re up against, as writers bemoaned the FT even covering the issue of sexual harassment, and referred to the women groped in their workplace as “silly young girls”. When I spoke out on television – albeit colourfully – against the everyday sexism and misogyny that sees schoolgirls sexually harassed, I was called a “little missy”.

It should be a core mission for us as liberals to challenge concentrations of power, including the power hoarded in the hands of rich, white men.

Gendered assumptions are everywhere. While women bear the brunt of these injustices, rigid cultural expectations about gender also harm men, not least in terms of their mental health. Men are also undervalued in their role as fathers, something I started trying to change with the introduction of shared parental leave.

Our party is not immune to the sexism that permeates through every part of society, but we can all act – individually and collectively – to be part of the solution. We need to recognise the nature of the problem: it is structural and ingrained in each and every one of us, absorbed from the surrounding culture. Changing it takes constant attention and proactive effort. Wringing our hands or shrugging our shoulders when few women ‘come forward’ won’t cut it for our party in 2018.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 19th Mar - 11:25pm
    I see this agreement more in terms of "simply inevitable". It is only a win for the EU in the sense that the UK has...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Mar - 10:54pm
    Reuters Tonight : "Brexit transition deal which failed to deliver full control over fishing rights, with Conservatives suggesting they could not support a final agreement...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Mar - 9:43pm
    @ Arnold Kiel "A complete win for the EU". No need to seem so pleased about it, Mr. Kiel.
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 19th Mar - 9:20pm
    Conservative Home is currently a joy to read. Even JRM has been accused of being a traitor to the Brexit cause😀.
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 19th Mar - 9:10pm
    A complete win for the EU (and, unwillingly, the UK). Most importantly: Fox can start failing right away for everybody to see, hopefully in time....
  • User AvatarSimon Banks 19th Mar - 8:52pm
    Was "Tory" one of the profanities?