What a waste of an interview with Jo Swinson!

Jo Swinson Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer AffairsThere is so much to annoy in today’s Daily Record interview with Jo Swinson. First of all there’s the headline: Women’s Minister tries to explain why none of Nick Clegg’s Girls made it to the Cabinet.’  Hang on a minute. Nick Clegg’s girls?  What sort of way is that to refer to Members of Parliament? You wouldn’t see the men referred to as “boys.”

That, though, was the sub-editor’s fault. The first five paragraphs comprise a moan by journalist Annie Brown about the format of the interview. which seems unjustified to say the least. She was offered a call with Jo, she wanted and got a face to face meeting. It actually sounds like Jo’s press people bent over backwards to give her what she asked for.

I don’t expect the Daily Record to give any Liberal Democrat an easy time but I felt that Brown could have got a lot more out of the interview by making it more wide-ranging. For a start, she’s interested in a lot of the same things Jo has been campaigning on for years on body image and how women are portrayed in the media and expected to behave. There was precious little in the interview about Jo’s actual ministerial work on things like shared parental leave and extending the right to request flexible working to everyone.

Instead, Brown goes on at great length about the recent Cabinet reshuffle, complaining that no Liberal Democrat women had been promoted to the Cabinet. Had she not noticed that this was an exclusively Conservative reshuffle? There are plenty Liberal Democrats who want to see a woman in the Cabinet and who are also aware that much work has been done, a great deal of it by Jo, to support female candidates with both selection and election. It might not be enough yet, but there’s stuff happening. Of the eight retiring MPs’ seats, five have selected women and so have a good number of our targets.

And then there’s just the simple getting the facts wrong. Brown stated that Jo “recently became the first MP to carry a baby through the voting lobby of the Houses of Parliament.” Actually, that’s simply not true. This is what we wrote and what Jo tweeted two weeks ago:

Of course Daily Record and Guardian are going to bring up welfare reform and its effects whenever they are talking to a Liberal Democrat. It’s to be expected. But why no mention of Jo’s work to tackle payday lenders?

This could have been a much stronger piece, though, if she’d actually included something about the work that the minister was interviewing. There was a throwaway line about Jo voting to get rid of the Future Jobs Fund and no mention of the record apprenticeships and the fact that job centres can now give much better support to young people and much sooner.

Virtually all of Brown’s piece could have been written without even meeting Jo. She’s a good, award-winning journalist whose work I have a lot of time for. This wasn’t an example of her best, though.


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

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  • Largely agree Caron, but on one small point I’d raise; male MPs are often called ‘boys’. You do see and hear quite a few references to it being called a Boys Club and them acting like Public School Boys. For instance a recent edition of Any Questions? saw a panelist awarded a hearty round of applause for saying that male MPs were like “public school boys comparing the size of their penises”. Make of that what you wish!

  • Frank Bowles 31st Jul '14 - 11:35pm

    Despite all her “why aren’t there more women in the cabinet” she doesn’t click think that it could be Dad not Mum who takes Andrew through the lobby … Incredible. Also is East Dunbartonshire really a hotspot for child poverty, it seems a bit unlikely when it contains some of the best off areas of the UK

  • Katherine Hesketh-Holt 1st Aug '14 - 9:46pm

    I agree with @caracatus although I feel that the party can only do so much on this issue when it is such a massive issue in society as a whole. I feel particularly frustrated by other women who do not only fail to acknowledge that everyday sexism exists, but promote it themselves through the way they respond to women in positions of power and the expectations they put onto girls and young women. We need more Jo Swinsons in the world – she’s a great role model and it’s a shame more people are not exposed to this.

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