Tag Archives: Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson takes part in International Men’s Day debate

Yesterday, MPs debated International Men’s Day. Our participant in that debate was Jo Swinson. She would not ever be so shameless as to  give  a massive plug for her book, Equal Power, which is due out in February, but she used a lot of her speech to talk about how gender equality benefits both men and women. Men face pressures from our unequal world, she said, in mental health, employment, expectations of being the bread winner, of not showing emotion. She talked about the importance of both parents’ roles in children’s lives.

Here is her speech:

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for this important debate, Mr Austin. I congratulate the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) on introducing it and all Members who supported the subject being heard. It is the first time during which I have been an MP that we have had a debate on International Men’s Day. I was not in Parliament for the previous two occasions, so I am delighted to be able to take part. I hope this debate will become a firm annual fixture in the Commons, perhaps even taking place in the main Chamber in future years. These issues are important and deserve to be properly explored.

Inequality is endemic right across society. The stereotypes, assumptions and rigid constraints on behaviour affect both men and women, girls and boys, but our focus is often on how women and girls lose out from gender inequality. It is right that we explore those issues, but as we have already heard and will explore in the debate, it is absolutely the case that men and boys are also negatively affected by gender inequality. That is why gender equality is good for everyone. Sometimes in the media these issues are portrayed as men pitted against women, as if there is some battle of the sexes going on. In fact a world that is more gender equal would be good for everyone, and it is one that we should be able to join forces to create.

Health care, particularly mental health for men and boys, is a huge issue. Such problems can start very early on. In the opening speech, we heard statistics about how men are more likely to commit suicide, and indeed that is the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45. That prompts us as a society to take a step back and consider what services we provide for men who find themselves in trouble. There is also an element of stigma, which we are starting to break down. In recent years there has been a welcome move towards talking more openly about mental health, and I know that hon. Members from across the House have spoken movingly in the Chamber about their own battles with mental health problems. That is to be welcomed, but no one would suggest that we are there yet when it comes to breaking down that stigma.

Importantly, we must also ensure that the services are there. For too long, mental health has been the Cinderella of the health service. It should be given parity with physical health problems, but mental health provision for individuals who need that support does not yet exist in our communities. Given that it is more difficult for men to seek help in the first place, if those support services are not there when they do, that is a double whammy.

In my constituency I am aware of an interesting project that has been set up specifically to help men with mental health difficulties. It is called Brothers in Arms, and when I spoke to its founders I was interested to hear their concern that not enough specialist services cater specifically for men and recognise some of the difficulties that men might have in coming forward. Such organisations—I know there are many others, particularly south of the border—and many strong campaigners and advocates are raising these issues and putting them on the agenda, but we must ensure that that is supported and progress accelerated.

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Jo Swinson’s vision for 21st Century Liberalism

Jo Swinson’s keynote speech to Scottish Conference yesterday tackled many current issues from climate change to the challenges faced by developments in automation and technology which threaten 1 in 3 jobs.

She was clear that it was the Liberal Democrats who could lead in developing the answers to these complex challenges;

Most importantly though, as Liberal Democrats we need to bring people together to create these answers to our shared challenges.

“We must not leave room for the populists to sow their seeds of division. This means getting out of what can, at times, be our own echo chambers and starting to bridge the divides in our communities. Our proud liberal tradition of community politics and grassroots campaigning means we know how to do this.

“We have the wind in our sails.  Growing Council groups, strong by-election campaigns, more MPs at Westminster. People are listening again, open to our message.

“British politics needs this radical thinking, this consensus-building, this reaching out across party and ideological divides.

“British politics needs the Liberal Democrats.”

Here is the whole thing:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Jo Swinson MP writes…We must end period poverty

Talking about periods apparently is still taboo. In fact we have had to wait until this month, in 2017 for the first ad ever in the UK to show a hand pouring a test-tube of blood-coloured liquid onto a sanitary towel, in lieu of the standard sterile-blue.

The advert, which forms part of a new campaign called ‘Blood Normal’, attempts to get rid of the embarrassment around the ‘Aunt Flo’ after a recent survey found that nine out of ten women attempt to hide the fact they are on their period, and 56% of girls said they would rather be bullied at school than talk to their parents about periods.

For something half the population experience on a monthly basis that is ludicrous.

For the majority of us they are an inconvenience, for example feeling we have to take our entire handbag with us to the bathroom at work, the surest tell-tale sign. But for others, particularly girls who have just started menstruating, the embarrassment can be enormous resulting in lost days of schooling and a huge knock to their self-esteem. This is particularly the case for girls from low-income families who might see their parents struggling to make ends meet and feel reluctant to ask them to add sanitary products to the weekly shop.

A survey by Plan International UK found that 1 in 10 girls had been unable to afford sanitary products. The fact that no one talks about this means that it remains hidden. In a country as well-off as Britain this simply shouldn’t be happening. And it can be stopped. We can end period poverty. The truth is it, it wouldn’t even cost a lot, relatively speaking.

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WATCH: Jo Swinson talking about her political comeback

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Jo Swinson was on the Daily Politics this week talking about her two years out of politics after her defeat in 2015 and what motivated her to come back. She cited the threat to liberal values posed by Brexit and Trump and the unwelcome prospect of another divisive referendum on Scottish independence as the driving forces which spurred her to contest her seat again.

Watch her discusser own comeback – and whether Nick Clegg could do the same, here:

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In full: Jo Swinson’s speech to Conference

Here is Jo Swinson’s speech to Conference.

Let me take you back to a rainy Saturday morning, 28 years ago. I’m doing what many 9-year-olds do on a Saturday morning, watching TV. It’s a children’s programme called Going Live, presented by Philip Schofield – some of you might even remember it, and depending on your age, nostalically feel it was no match for Swap Shop or Saturday Superstore.

“That particular morning’s show sticks in my mind because in amongst Gordon the Gopher, kids’ cartoons, and celebrities getting gunged, there was an amazing competition. The prize was to win a piece of the Berlin Wall, recently torn down in one of the most pivotal moments of 20th century history.

“It was pretty obviously in an entirely different league to the usual phone-ins to win toys, or CDs, or tickets to concerts. I didn’t win the competition, but later on my dad visited Berlin and brought me back a little piece of that history.

“I think it’s fair to say that as a child, apart from one Christmas watching the animated film “When the Wind Blows”, I hadn’t given much thought to nuclear war. But the cloud had hung threateningly over the world, at times perilously close to disaster on an unimaginable scale.

“Thanks to the diplomacy, courage and political leadership which led to the end of the Cold War, we have enjoyed three decades with much reduced levels of nuclear threat, until now.

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Vince takes the stage with a strong “Exit from Brexit” line

Vince is not our almost leader any more. Just after 4pm, Sal Brinton announced that there had only been one nomination received and therefore he was our actual leader.

Having one of the country’s most credible and authoritative experts on the economy at a time when the economy is at risk is no bad thing.

We will certainly see a change in style from Vince. He won’t be as Tiggerish as Tim, but he’ll fight the recklessness of the Tories and Labour and promote our Liberal Democrat values with energy and optimism.

Vince has huge intelligence, a way of telling it like it is that makes sense to people and a wicked sense of humour. I feel much more optimistic than I did on 9th June that we can actually get somewhere.

Watch this afternoon’s proceedings here. You can see speeches from Sal, Tim, Jo and Vince.  Some key points from Vince’s speech are below.

There is a huge gap in the centre of British politics and I intend to fill it. As the only party committed to staying in the single market and customs union, the Liberal Democrats are alone in fighting to protect our economy. It will soon become clear that the government can’t deliver the painless Brexit it promised. So, we need to prepare for an exit from Brexit.

Theresa May wants to take Britain back to the 1950s while Jeremy Corbyn wants to take Britain back to the 1970s. I will offer an optimistic, alternative agenda to power the country into the 2020s and beyond.

We have a government that can’t govern and an opposition that can’t oppose. Labour and the Conservatives have formed a grand coalition of chaos, driving through a hard Brexit which would deliver a massive blow to living standards.

Both parties have abandoned mainstream economics. I want to put economics back centre stage.

Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will be at the centre of political life: a credible, effective party of national government.

We have doubled our membership and our new members have given the party enormous energy. I want to give leadership to that energy, hitting the headlines and putting our party at the centre of the national debate.

 

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Swinson: BBC Gender Gap should be a wake up call

We’ll all have seen those BBC pay figures today. How senior executives must have wept into their prosecco when Chris Evans proved to be such a failure on Top Gear.

On one level, you could be appalled at someone getting paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to read the news, or spout childish banalities on the radio. On the other, you can recognise that if they didn’t pay those rates, nobody we’ve ever heard of would be on the BBC – and as soon as we had heard of them, they’d be off.  Given the general high quality of the …

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