WATCH: Jo Swinson’s interview with Alastair Campbell

Jo Swinson has talked to Alastair Campbell for GQ magazine. They met twice. Once on 27th August and then after the Parliamentary drama on 3-4 September.

You can watch the whole thing on You Tube:

The written transcript is here. but you need to watch the video to get the whole thing.

It’s well worth 47 minutes of your time to see a thoughtful conversation which ranges from Brexit to Scottish independence and why people are turning to the Liberal Democrats:

Tens of thousands joined the Lib Dems since the start of May because people want someone that speaks to those small “l” liberal values for opportunity, internationalism, equality, fairness, treating people as individuals.

The biggest reason she can’t deal with Boris:

I don’t think he cares! I think he really doesn’t care. What he did in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe just makes me furious. He doesn’t seem to show any kind of remorse or feel bad about it – he says he feels anguish, but he shows no evidence of it whatsoever. All he cares about is Boris Johnson and becoming prime minister and he was prepared to say whatever it took to get him into Number Ten. One of the reasons I have stood for leadership of my party is that I think the public needs a better choice. At the next election, the offer of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn is not good enough. That’s why I’ve set out ambitious plans for the Liberal Democrats, that we are aiming for government and I am a candidate for prime minister, because I think the country needs us to be doing that.

And why she thinks she is the best candidate for PM:

When I joined the Liberal Democrats I didn’t think that I would be sitting here today and talking about potentially becoming prime minister and running for that, but when I look at Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, hand on heart, I am very confident I could do a better job than either of them. We have got a no-deal Brexit around the corner; we have a climate emergency that we have less than 12 years to tackle; we have got poverty in our communities; we have real problems with our politics more generally. I genuinely feel we need to make sure that the Liberal Democrats can be that home for people with liberal values who want and demand and deserve something better than either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn.

Alastair then makes the mistake of mentioning how difficult it must be for her because she has young kids:

AC: That feels very hard to me. Two young children, including your baby, taking on the leadership of a party.

JS: Hang on, did Tony Blair not have a baby when he was prime minister, I seem to recall?

AC: He did.

JS: Yeah. I mean, men do do this. It has been known.

When they met on 6th September, Alastair asked Jo if she thought Boris Johnson had fascist tendencies:

I am not going to put that label on him. You have to be careful with language. But I found the imagery of that speech in front of police officers, where he was effectively saying he might not obey the rule of law, very worrying. The juxtaposition was quite sinister. It felt rather authoritarian.

There was an interesting discussion about the risks of splitting the opposition vote:

JS: We are very clear we want to stop Brexit and anyone who wants to stop Brexit should vote Lib Dem.

AC: Even if it splits the vote in seats where only Labour or SNP might beat them and helps Johnson win?

JS: On Brexit, it is not clear what a vote for Labour will mean. I have a lot of time for those people who have worked so hard to get them to a better position, but they are still talking about delivering Brexit and the only clear path against that is us.

There are discussions we are engaged in through Unite to Remain, but in the vast majority of places the best way to stop Brexit will be a Lib Dem vote.

You can also find out her reaction to the person who shouted out to her “Sit down, Darling” in the Commons.

It’s a good way to spend 47 minutes.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Mick Taylor 21st Sep '19 - 4:21pm

    A first class interview by Jo Swinson. She never put a foot wrong. Clear and decisive answers to all the questions put to her. If she can continue like that in the coming GE then we shall do well.

  • Ross McLean 21st Sep '19 - 4:32pm

    Agreed – excellent stuff from Jo. And kudos to Campbell as well. It’s so refreshing to see a proper interview. Devoid of ‘gotcha’ questions and constant interruptions; he actually asks her questions then sits back and lets her develop a line of thought. Extraordinary!
    I think she is at her best in this kind of scenario.

  • Geoffrey Dron 21st Sep '19 - 6:04pm

    Jo very good – definitely best PM-material of the three party leaders – but she ought to have been subject to more rigorous cross-examination by e.g. Andrew Neil.

  • @Geoffrey – the tough Andrew Neil interviews will come. Have no fear of that! But there is surely room for more than one type of interview. Like Ross, I like this style. I wouldn’t call it easy – there are some tough questions in there, but I like how she is given time to speak. She is a very thoughtful, open, intelligent person, and it’s good to see that side of her.
    Also, I don’t think this was covered on any TV channel, in fact I had missed it completely before it appeared on here. (Well done LDV for finding it). So please let’s all share it on our social networks. I think the more people see her like this, the better.

  • A good tone of speaking from Jo.
    Authority without talking down.

  • Sandra Hammett 22nd Sep '19 - 12:30pm

    Two people who agree with each other, trying to push the same cause does not make for a hard hitting interview.

  • As another commentator stated, 2 people sharing the same aspirations, (to revoke Brexit) is more a conversation than an interview. Ordinarily, Alistair Campbell interrupts during interviews if his view on Brexit is being challenged. This is to prevent the interviewee being able to put forward a cogent, constant but differing point of view to his own. In my opinion, Alistair and Jo merely put forward a Liberal Democrat manifesto which GQ magazine facilitated.

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