WATCH LIVE: Jo Swinson’s first rally

Liberal Democrats are gathering in London to welcome Jo Swinson as leader at a rally. Watch it live here.

The first speaker is Ed Davey, after a generous introduction by Sal Brinton. A really classy speech, paying tribute to Jo, a few self deprecating jokes. But many people have a much higher opinion of Ed than they had at the start of the campaign. He said he looked forward to serving with Prime Minister Swinson.

Next up Vince, with lots of thanks for staff and some tips for Jo. First one – on dinners. “Work out what to do if you win the 6 foot teddy bear in the raffle.” He says you have to watch out with selfies citing meeting the hen party he met in Malaga who thought he was a weather forecaster. He then talked about being careful where you have the photos with the orange diamonds.

On a more serious note, he talked about Jo’s “powerful and emotional” speech this afternoon. He talked about his experience of racism against his first wife Olympia. He thought that this had diminished and that Britain was a better place – but he sees the ugliness coming back and says that we have to fight it.

Jo, he says, will lead from the front where liberal values are concerned.

He then introduces Jo as the future Prime Minister.

“My feminist heart sings that I am the first woman to lead our parties too.”

Andrew, she says, will be pleased that Gary Lineker now knows who his Mum is.

“Ed has carried himself with grace throughout the campaign.”

“Ed, you say you love our party. Ed, our party loves you.”

“Vince, you have been the voice of reason.”

She’s now going into the stump speech that she used  to such great effect during the campaign.

“As your leader, I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit.”

A powerful section on Trump’s racist attacks:

It feels like our liberal values are under attack.

We champion freedom – but Brexit will mean the next generation is less free to live, work and love across Europe.

We value openness – but Britain is in retreat, pulling up the drawbridge.

We cherish equality, so that every individual can thrive: whoever they are, whatever their background, however they worship. But this is threatened too – that shocking picture of those gay women, bloodied, attacked on a bus. And the rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, in the heart of British politics.

Of course this is not confined to the UK.

Trump’s attack last week on four members of Congress, all women of colour, started with him deploying the textbook racist ‘go home’ message. By the end of the week, we saw thousands of people whipped into fervour at a rally, chanting “Send her back”.

Simply sickening, chilling. Echoes of a history we must not repeat.

Ilhan Omar is a strong woman. She will not be cowed. But my heart breaks: for every immigrant who feels less safe, for every little girl of colour who feels afraid, for every person who feels less welcome in their own country.

This is the same speech she made earlier, delivered brilliantly and to an audience that I suspect has had more gin than they had had at the announcement.

If we want to defeat nationalism and populism, we need to give people an alternative vision for a richer, greener, safer and more loving country.

Because when all that Farage and Johnson can offer is hate, we should give people hope.

And then another cracker of a section on feminism:

And our liberal movement to take on nationalism and populism must be inclusive.

At one hustings, someone accused me of being a feminist first, and a liberal second.

I answered how can you be a liberal, if you are not a feminist?

You are not a liberal, if you do not recognise and unpick the structural inequalities in society that hold so many people back.

As liberals, we want every individual to achieve their potential – and we are kidding ourselves if we think our society is a meritocracy.

So I say to you, if you are tired of a politics that doesn’t include people like you, whether that’s because of your gender, disability or the colour of your skin, your accent, age, or who you love – then join us.

And this is Jo, of course there’s a to-do list. She tells us to get out there and ask our friends and colleagues and family to join us.

“If you think our country is headed in the wrong direction, you need to act too. Politics is not a spectator sport.”

“Shouting at a television is not enough – you need to join us – and do you know what, today, 1200 people have joined us as members of supporters.”

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

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