Monday, March 12, 2012

Jo Swinson: The Invisible Woman

I've been reading through some press reports of the Gateshead Conference. It's not an unusual experience to come home and read what the media have been saying and think "What? That wasn't the event I attended."

The papers have concentrated on the NHS debate, which admittedly was a key preoccupation of the weekend, and a criticism by Matthew Oakeshott of Nick Clegg's Tycooon Tax plan which was at most a tiny sideshow. This is a new line of thinking, a work in progress and all voices are necessary to develop it into a robust proposal. I have no problem with the principle of making sure the super rich pay their dues in tax, nor, I imagine, does any other Liberal Democrat.

The Daily Fail amused me this morning. They tried to make something of a photo of Ed Davey and Chris Huhne looking  sombre as they listened to Nick Clegg speak. How are we supposed to look when we're listening? The fact that a subsequent pictures showed them positively wreathed in smiles is beside the point. The most prominent person in both photos is East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson, who is completely ignored by the Fail, despite being, as Nick Clegg's key parliamentary aide, one of the most influential people in the country. You see, Jo works with Nick, whose remit covers the entire range of Government ministries.She has an overview of all Government policy and can have an input into how that develops. Given her understanding of how Government policy affects women, that can only be a good thing as far as I am concerned.  Yet the Fail doesn't think she merits a mention. Possibly they didn't know who she was, or perhaps they just assumed she was somebody's wife.

Jo really is the sort of person the Daily Mail should disapprove of rather a lot, so they would do well to find out more about her.


Neil M said...

Caron I really dislike disagreeing with you but I now find myself in that position twice in one week! Much as I admire Jo she is only a PPS and how many other PPS's can you name? It is the very lowest rung of government and we generally only ever hear about them when they resign from the government in a huff. I don't think it helps the very real debates about making Parliament more representative of the country as a whole or the skewed coverage of politics in papers like the Daily Mail to blame them for doing something perfectly in keeping with media practice (picture captions often just mention the well known individuals in the pictures).

Unknown said...

Neil, when Norman Lamb was in the same position as Jo, he was on news programmes here, there and everywhere as Nick's chief of staff/key aide/close associate.

It would be very wrong to dismiss the importance of that role and the influence the holder has.

I'm just telling the Fail that there's another Lib Dem for them to disapprove of:0)

Neil M said...

Technically, Norman Lamb was not in the same position as Jo because he enjoyed the title of "Chief Political Advisor to Nick Clegg" and was also a whip. As far as I can make out when Norman Lamb was promoted Jo got the PPS part of his job, Jenny Willott got the whip part and as "chief political advisor" was a personal appointment that role is vacant. I am sure the Mail have enough scorn to go around every LD MP and Jo can have her fare share :)


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