Lib Dem Leadership Hustings – Manchester event – Swinson shaded it for me

I attended the Lib Dem Leadership hustings event held in Manchester yesterday evening to help me decide whether to back Jo Swinson or Ed Davey. I came away more impressed with Davey than I expected to be but Swinson shaded it for me because of her engaging and down to earth way of connecting with her audience.

Those who know me well will realise that I had wanted Layla Moran to stand for Lib Dem Leader but probably for all the right reasons she decided not to. I’m guessing that she wants to get more experience under her belt before taking such a step.

I thought Davey was very good on the issues of climate change and the economics of switching from fossil fuels to renewable ones but Swinson was better for me across the whole range of questioning she came under at the event. And that range of questioning covered saving the NHS, stopping Brexit, investing in rail transportation in the north, equalities, education, climate change and other issues too.

I do however subscribe to Jonathan Calder’s view that this contest is between two Steel’s with no Pardoe. And for those not well up on Liberal history, when David Steel became Liberal leader his opponent was John Pardoe who was seen as being a more radical alternative for leader. It’s that more radical approach that I want to see from both the present Lib Dem leadership candidates. I don’t do Centrist moderation, it’s too comfortable – be more Pardoe please and challenge us all, whether we be Lib Dem members and supporters or not, to back a more radical and socially progressive Liberal movement.

Oh and by the way whilst backing Swinson, I will be content with either winning the contest so long as they embark on a radical agenda of course…….

Jo Swinson – Equalities Minister but treated by a man as a secretary!

Former minister Jo Swinson has spoken of the “delicious” moment she was mistaken for a secretary by a senior government official.


The ex-MP, an equalities minister in the coalition government, was speaking about the difficulties faced by women in the workplace.

She said the official was mortified when he realised his mistake.

The former Lib Dem MP, who lost her seat at May’s general election, pushed through reforms allowing shared parental leave, seen as one of the biggest changes in employment law under the coalition.

She spoke out against all-women shortlists at a Liberal Reform fringe meeting at the party’s conference in Bournemouth. But she argued that some state intervention and positive discrimination was needed to shift ingrained cultural attitudes, offering an insight into her own experience at the heart of government.

“I remember as a minister, when I was making a public appointment, the officer for public appointments was coming along to discuss who we were going to appoint to this position and the interview process,” she said.

“And basically came into my office and talked to me with the clear assumption that he thought I was the secretary to the minister.

It was wonderful – the look on his face when he realised his mistake.”

And the lesson from this is one for us men not to assume that when we go to a meeting with someone whom we do not know that it will be with another man! Equalities clearly has some way to go.

With thanks to Jen Robertson for the lead to this story.