Tag Archives: Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson…for leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats?

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A few days after the general election, in a state of numbness I’m sure you are all familiar with, my thoughts were on our former leader, Jo Swinson.

I admit, I was not a full-throated supporter of Swinson’s. I believed she would have problems building the relationships and alliances essential to stopping Brexit, so backed Ed in the contest. In my opinion, she had an opportunity to set Scotland on a more positive course against independence. The real north, as I described it last week, could have begun to work more closely to tackle our unique crises. We would have been better able to hold the SNP’s feet to the iron, somewhat ironically, had we spent less time engaging in running point-scoring battles. We had the same aim. Those failings I find hard to set aside.

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Showing her customary resilience, Jo Swinson marks the new decade with a flurry of reflective tweets

Something you may have missed: On 31st December, Jo Swinson reflected on the last decade with a Twitter thread of photos, concluding by looking forward to the new decade with the words:

Whatever the next decade holds, I look forward to meeting it head on.


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Annoyance of LibDem MPs over power of “new sexy people” in 2019 election decisions – Five candidates ready for party leadership contest – Timetable today

Ailbhe Rea has written a long article on the Liberal Democrats for the New Statesman.

There are some interesting points about the 2019 election covered, based on reported conversations with our MPs:

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Rumour: Jo Swinson set to be awarded a peerage

This fortnight’s edition of Private Eye is proving to be quite a goldmine. I thoroughly recommend buying a copy at your local newsagent or similar outlet.

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“Her disastrous miscalculation” – Sir Nick Harvey’s view on Jo Swinson’s support for December election

Former North Devon MP, Sir Nick Harvey stood down as Liberal Democrat party chief executive shortly before 20th October last year.

In this fortnight’s Private Eye, a letter from Nick is published which severely criticises a decision made by the then party leader, Jo Swinson, soon after he left the role on 28th October.

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“Thank you!” – an open letter to Jo

Dear Jo,

As many others have pointed out in the last few days a bit of masochism never comes amiss if one is a Liberal Democrat. Pain and sorrow come with the territory.

When my 70-year old Mum cruelly lost her hard-worked council seat in 2014, courtesy of the Coalition, we got separated slightly from our colleagues after the count. We are not prone to emotion but, two dumpy ladies of 5ft nothing, we clung together as her result was announced and Labour activists surrounded us and screamed their glee. One of them trod on me in the hubbub.

Later, back home, as …

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Sal Brinton on the next steps for the Liberal Democrats

Party president Sal Brinton has emailed party members tonight to let them know what is happening with the general election review and leadership election.

The Federal Board discussed both yesterday.

We decided that everyone was knackered over the election and needed a rest over Christmas. The Federal Board meeting in January will look again at when to hold the leadership election but the feeling was that we aren’t in a massive hurry. The process takes around 9 weeks once it is kicked off.

I think this is a good idea. The 2015 leadership election was conducted when we were all still grieving after the result and was a pretty gruesome affair as a result.

We need to rest and recharge before we do anything.

Here is Sal’s email.

I want to thank you for all your hard work over the last six weeks. Everyone did everything they could in this campaign but the result has been deeply disappointing.

Despite Liberal Democrats gaining 1.2m votes and our share of the vote increasing in every region of the UK, we are now one seat down compared to 2017. Under a proportional system, we would now have 84 MPs.

In many contests, we achieved some of the biggest ever swings in election history. But in six tight races, we lost by just a few hundred votes.

For me, Jo missing out by just 149 votes was heartbreaking. In her time as Leader, she gave us hope about a new progressive politics. If you missed her moving speech you can see it here.

We also lost too many other exceptional MPs: Jane Dodds, Tom Brake, Stephen Lloyd, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston, Sam Gyimah, Philip Lee, Angela Smith and Antoinette Sandbach. Each had made their mark as outstanding MPs standing up for liberal principles. We will miss them all.

And of course, to see the Conservatives win a majority after their disgraceful campaign is appalling. As was Nicola Sturgeon’s awful reaction to Jo’s news.

Our task now is to learn and look ahead.

Under the Party Constitution, if the Leader loses their seat, the Deputy Leader in the Commons and the President jointly take on the role of co-interim Leader. Ed Davey and I are already working closely together.

I am delighted to say that Mark Pack has been elected as Party President from 1 January, and I will hand my share of that role to him then.

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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.

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Jo Swinson speech following General Election

This winter election has been dark in more ways than one.

Leaders evading scrutiny, whether it was Corbyn ducking phone-ins or Johnson hiding in a fridge.

Voters feeling forced to choose the least worst option, squeezing out positivity.

Even before it started, we saw an exodus of MPs, especially women, ground down by abuse, intimidation and threats.

I’m proud that the Liberal Democrats provided a welcoming home for those abandoned by their parties, those who were hounded out, like Luciana Berger.

sadly the results have seen us lose Luciana from Parliament and many other talented MPs such as Tom Brake, Sam Gyimah, Chuka Umunna, Jane …

Posted in News | 28 Comments

Rollercoaster

I’m just in from one of the worst nights of my political life. Don’t get me wrong, at my count, Liberal Democrats in every seat increased their vote share. For election after election, I, as Scottish Party Treasurer, would have to set aside a ridiculous amount of money that could have been spent on campaigning to cover lost deposits. Not many of them this time around.

Any other time we would be celebrating a bigger increase in vote share than any other party.

It is kind of ridiculous that a rise in the Conservative vote of 1.2% was met with 50 extra MPs while a rise in the Liberal Democrat vote share of 4.2% resulted in  one fewer parliamentarian.

And it’s truly bloody awful when that one parliamentarian is your leader of just 4 months. Jo took a courageous stand on Brexit and offered radical, generous spirited, liberal policies on other issues. Yet she lost out to the SNP by just 149 votes. There are no words to describe how heartbroken I feel about her loss from Parliament.

There is a cruel irony that many of the women she encouraged now make up the majority of our  parliamentary party. She’s delivered on one of her key interests to make the party more diverse but won’t be able to work with them in Parliament.

The night ranged from the shock of the exit poll to the relief that our data was more accurate. Christine Jardine eventually won with an increased majority. Yet just an hour’s drive away, our leader lost by 149 votes. Could we have done more to persuade people to go there to shore up our vote? We’ll hever know.

The sickening, stomach churning moment when that exit poll suggested that there would be no Liberal Democrat MPs in Scotland at all  We’d hoped for five – and we got 4 when we gained Wendy Chamberlain in North East Fife. She enters Parliament along with a second term for Sarah Olney.

Other lows included  not winning Sheffield Hallam, both Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger losing their seats. And Tom Brake losing Carshalton after 22 years by approximately 400 votes.

I’ll crunch some more numbers later, but it is worth noting that we might have had several more seats and Boris Johnson might have had some fewer if we had stood aside, say, in Chingford and Wood Green  against Iain Duncan Smith or the Greens had too aside in Sheffield Hallam. For future elections, we’ll need to work to ensure that we minimise the number of Conservatives in Parliament.

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11 December 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Swinson: One day left to stop Boris Johnson and stop Brexit
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Put a penny on income tax to transform mental healthcare

Swinson: One day left to stop Boris Johnson and stop Brexit

Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson will today (Wednesday 11th December) deliver her final speech of the election campaign in Esher and Walton, urging voters to back the Liberal Democrats to stop Boris Johnson getting a majority and stop Brexit.

Jo will be attending a series of rallies with activists throughout to the day including in the Conservative-held seats of Esher and Walton, Guildford and Wimbledon.

Jo Swinson is expected …

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10 December 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Lib Dems: Brexit is already costing our public services more than £350 million a week
  • Swinson warns of Johnson threat to human rights
  • Business backs the Liberal Democrats
  • Lib Dems are listening to Gen Z’s climate emergency fears

Lib Dems: Brexit is already costing our public services more than £350 million a week

The Liberal Democrats have revealed that Brexit is already costing the government £380–470 million a week – money that could have been spent on the NHS instead.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has estimated that GDP is £55–66 billion lower this year than it would have been without Brexit, mainly …

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9 December 2019 – today’s press releases

Apologies to our regular readers for the temporary disappearance of this regular feature – I was away and had some surprisingly poor internet access. Anyway, on with the show…

  • Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency
  • Lib Dems: Brexit leak on Northern Ireland checks shows Johnson is lying to the public
  • Lib Dems: Johnson refusing to look at picture of sick child shows mask has slipped
  • Question Time debate shows Jo Swinson is a next generation leader

Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency

The Liberal Democrats have …

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Jo Swinson on brilliant form on transgender rights

If you haven’t seen this clip, it’s worth watching. Jo is on brilliant form as she responds to an LBC caller who criticised boys wearing skirts. As Nick Ferrari wades in about “national security” and risks for British citizens in Saudi Arabia, Jo is passionate and concludes:

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The most frustrating thing about Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson was on Sophy Ridge this morning, setting out very clearly that every single Liberal Democrat MP elected on Thursday would be absolutely focused on stopping Brexit.

She emphasised that Liberal Democrats could stop Boris Johnson getting a majority.

She also defended our policy of revoking Article 50 if the Liberal Democrats won a majority, saying that it was the most popular option amongst remainers, including Labour remainers. She could have mentioned that 6 million people signed a petition to do just that just a few months ago so the idea clearly has support.

Here are her highlights:

Sophy Ridge asked her about …

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Jo Swinson shines in Andrew Neil interview

Jo Swinson was 3 when Jeremy Corbyn became an MP in 1983. That longer experience did not help him when he faced Andrew Neil last week. He was tin-eared, evasive and failed to connect with the audience.

Boris Johnson can’t even be bothered to show up.

In contrast, Jo was amazing tonight. Neil didn’t hold back, asking her some very tough questions. She answered every single one with clarity, competence and candour. She was very clear that she hadn’t got it right on everything  in the coalition and said the word that politicians so rarely use – sorry.

At the same time, she articulated a proper, liberal, internationalist message, showing how we are open, generous spirited and inclusive.

I have known Jo for long enough to know that she never gives up. Our election campaign has not seen the rise in the polls we deserve, given that we have a manifesto that is more redistributive than Labour’s, is the most economically competent and is much better on social justice than anyone else’s. A lesser leader could have turned their face to the wall. That is not Jo’s style. She and we will keep fighting for every single vote right up until 10pm next Thursday night.

Here are her best bits:

And we can stop Brexit We did it twice and we can do it for good:

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Jo Swinson is impressive under the Andrew Neil grilling

Jo Swinson gave a very impressive performance under the grilling of Andrew Neil this evening on primetime BBC1. (You can view it here).

She was confident, offering contrition on the mistakes of the coalition and outlining the Liberal Democrat positions clearly.

There are plenty of past examples of car crash interviews with Andrew Neil at the helm. Jo did very well under his forensic questioning.

Here’s a selection of tweets reacting to tonight’s programme:

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1 December 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

  • Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny
  • Lib Dems: Tory no deal Brexit would increase national debt by £220 billion
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show that he despises the poor and vulnerable in our society
  • Swinson outperforms Johnson cheerleaders
  • Farage, Trump and Johnson singing from same misogynistic hymn sheet

Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny

Responding to Boris Johnson’s interview with Andrew Marr, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, said:

Given Boris Johnson’s dismal performance this morning on Marr it is no wonder he is running scared of Andrew Neil and refusing to be held to account in debates.

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30 November 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 1)

  • Ed Davey: Only the Conservatives would think it is the right policy to put rail fares up now
  • Swinson statement ahead of World AIDS Day

Ed Davey: Only the Conservatives would think it is the right policy to put rail fares up now

Responding to the news that rail fares will increase by 2.7% for millions of commuters on the 2nd January next year, Liberal Democrats Shadow Chancellor Ed Davey said:

With the railways in crisis and passengers continuing to suffer delays and cancellations on a daily basis, only the Conservatives would think it is the right policy to put fares up now.

It’s time

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Business leaders back Lib Dems in open letter

Senior figures from such companies as the New Covent Garden Soup Company, Superdry and Lovefilm are among business leaders who have endorsed the Liberal Democrats in a letter published in the I newspaper. It says:

Business is at the heart of our economy, providing the jobs that millions depend on, the prosperity that pays for public services, and the means by which we bring together our enterprise, ambition and creativity to find new solutions and opportunities.

We also know there is a big task ahead if we are to build a prosperous, fair, inclusive and sustainable economy fit for the 21st century. We must do more to address social and geographical inequalities. We need to act boldly and urgently to tackle the climate emergency. And we must create more quality jobs and investment if the UK is to truly prosper from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Success will require government and business working together in partnership.This means commitment to investing in the education, skills, innovation, infrastructure and regional development critical to building an inclusive, world-class digital and green economy. We need support for small and growing businesses; and commitment to fostering responsibility and sustainability.

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Jo’s best bits from the BBC Debate

Seven leading figures from the various parties competing in the election took part in a televised debate from the National Assembly of Wales.

We are a site made up of Lib Dem supporters. Of course we are going to back our leader. But she surpassed even our expectations.

Her opening statement offered hope, and a country where everyone is valued regardless of religion, who they love or the colour of their skin, working with our closest friends to save the planet, nurturing the bonds in our family of nations, protecting the vulnerable.  A proper liberal vision.

She had the line of the debate.

She didn’t mention that it was a horror show, though…

And here’s her closing statement:

She highlighted why Lib Dem spending plans were not only effective, but added up.

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Two things we learned from last night’s Question Time

Jo Swinson had the hardest job out of all the leaders on the BBC Question Time special last night.

First of all, the audience was stacked against her:

While all the leaders took some tough questioning, at least Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn had somewhere in the vicinity of a third of the audience backing them. For some reason UK audiences seem to like Nicola Sturgeon, but they don’t have to live with her chaotic government’s neglect of pubic services. Trust me, the grass is not greener up here.

The audience was never going to back Jo – but people watching would have seen a leader who was absolutely crystal clear about her position. And, uniquely, she was also prepared to admit where we and she had got it wrong in the past. Compare that to Corbyn’s failure to acknowledge that he had failed to tackle anti-semitism in his own party and Johnson’s failure to accept the consequences of the casual racism with which he peppers so much of his writing.

So it’s hardly surprising that much of the right and left wing press are using up their column inches attacking Jo instead of promoting their own candidate.

Jo was very clear that she was the Remain candidate on the ballot paper.

The first thing we learned last night, if we didn’t know it already, is that Labour is not a remain party. Jeremy Corbyn announced he would stay neutral on this deal that he’s going to negotiate. That is an astounding failure of leadership. By refusing to take a position, he lets everybody down.

The second thing we learned is that Jo Swinson shows grace, candour and passion under pressure. She has the hardest job last night and answered with kindness, empathy and clarity.  She made sure that she is the unequivocal voice of remain in this election.

Her performance will go down very well in the seats we hope to gain to deprive Boris Johnson of a majority. Don’t just take my word for it:

Diamonds are formed under pressure. Our Lib Dem diamond did us proud by going into that fire pit and handling the tough questioning much better than anyone else.

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23 November 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems: Creative subjects are at the heart of plans to build a brighter future

Liberal Democrats will put creative subjects back at the heart of the school curriculum as part of their plans to build a brighter future.

Under the Conservatives, a combination of school funding cuts, high-stakes testing and targets have squeezed creative subjects out of the classroom. Around 3,500 fewer secondary school teachers are employed in art, music, drama and design & technology compared to 2015. The number of hours spent teaching D&T in secondary schools has fallen by almost a quarter over the same period.

Liberal Democrats will …

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22 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds is the first candidate in Wales to sign the Rural Powerhouse Pledge
  • Lib Dems condemn Farage refugee comment
  • Jo Swinson stands out as strongest voice of Remain

Jane Dodds is the first candidate in Wales to sign the Rural Powerhouse Pledge

Jane Dodds has become the first Parliamentary candidate in Wales to sign the Country Land and Business Association’s new Rural Powerhouse Pledge.

The CLA’s new campaign will see it write to every Parliamentary candidate in every constituency in England and Wales asking them to pledge support for the Rural Powerhouse.

The Rural Powerhouse pledge consists of five key themes: a fully connected countryside, …

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WATCH: Liberal Democrats Party Election Broadcast – She’s running again

Here is the Lib Dem election broadcast for the General Election.

I will admit to a wee tear at the start where Jo is talking about her Dad, who died last year. He would have been so proud to see her leading an election campaign as leader of the biggest and strongest Remain party.

It’s personal, hopeful, bright and clear about our aims about stopping Brexit and transforming the economy to make it work for people and planet.

And we have added Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston and Siobhan Benita, too.

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WATCH: Jo Swinson launching the manifesto

Jo Swinson launched the Lib Dem manifesto today.

Here’s her speech:

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£10 billion for schools and 20,000 more teachers is an investment in our children’s future

Today, the Liberal Democrats will announce plans to spend £10 billion more a year on schools and hire 20,000 more teachers by the end of the next Parliament. This comes ahead of the Liberal Democrat manifesto launch later today.

A Liberal Democrat government will reverse frontline school cuts since 2015 with an emergency cash injection of £4.6 billion next year.

By 2024/25, the party will spend £10.6 billion more on schools than in 2019/20. This is more than the Conservatives have offered in every year of the Parliament.

Liberal Democrats will use this money to boost teaching numbers by 20,000 …

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19 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Johnson offers failed knife crime policies
  • Lib Dems respond to Farage comments on local Tory and Brexit Party deals
  • Swinson: ITV debate proves people at home deserve so much better
  • CCHQ’s Twitter factchecking ploy is straight of Putin’s playbook

Johnson offers failed knife crime policies

Responding to Boris Johnson’s announcement on knife crime, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Ed Davey said:

The UK is in the grip of an epidemic of serious violence, and we urgently need real solutions. Instead, all the Tories can offer are the same old failed policies.

These Conservative policies are all about seeming tough on crime, but they won’t actually do anything

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Jo’s ITV interview – the highlights

Here are the higlights of Jo’s ITV interview:

On uniting the country by tacking the issues that made Leave voters feel so dissatisfied in the first place:

And on tackling the climate emergency and how the EU helps us:

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Jo’s take on the #itvdebate

Jo Swinson has taken to Twitter to make her points in the Leaders’ debate from which she has been excluded. A shout out to the people who so quickly cut together excerpts from the debate and clips of Jo putting the alternative view for people to share on social media.

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