Do you remember the scary days of last week? When the sky was closing in on Lib Dems? Equal Marriage was toast and any hopes for women doing anything successful for the next generation was scuppered because Nick Clegg (yes a privileged white man) basically traded all his assets to the Tories to get David Laws (yes another privileged white man – and also Clegg’s key right-hand man) back into the cabinet?
I remember those days. I remember them well but I have a good memory so that isn’t a huge surprise. It was a turbulent era though. The Lib Dems on the ground thought that it was pointless even fighting any more. Moving Lynne Featherstone to a job she’s be fantastic in was clearly a sign that Clegg didn’t care any more. He was a Tory by-proxy. The Tories not only got their hands on Equalities so they could outlaw gays and get them rounded up and dumped on the Isle of Wight but also their devious plans to outlaw adults not being marriedand kids outside of wedlock would become things of the past. Yes the family unit would flourish once more. The evil Tories had won.
The thing was though. None of that happened (well except the Lynne moving to another job that she’ll do extremely well in – that bit did happen). I mean hands up if you think Lynne Featherstone won’t be terrific in the Department for International Development. Anyone? I thought not. Oh put your hand down Labour tribalist who thinks all Lib Dems are evil – your views are tainted by your lack of being able to form an opinion.
The fact is as everything came out in the wash Jo Swinson was promoted to Lynne Featherstone’s old job – and the move isn’t one that should be overlooked. Equalities is something that runs through all Lib Dem veins but do you know what else is important? Reducing poverty and Lynne is now involved in that as well. Jo Swinson is a star. I have said before that I think she should lead the Lib Dems into the 2020 General Election should she continue on her career path and is both a) still an MP and b) interested in doing such a thing. However with Lib Dems now in cabinet it would be hard for her to win the leadership without any experience (hence why I think Tim Farron despite all his twitter love might struggle).
Getting a Lib Dem into Equalities was extremely important to most Lib Dems. It is kinda part of our core. Getting a popular hard-working Lib Dem in there was a bonus and Jo Swinson fits the bill perfectly. Personally I am thrilled about this. I truly am. I know I should love and respect all Lib Dems the same but the truth is I don’t. However with this appointment I totally trust Jo to continue to work hard and do a fantastic job promoting equalities and getting equal marriage sorted – along with other issues.
I do hope those who quit the party over Lynne going last week are feeling a bit sheepish. No announcement was ever made about who would be directly replacing Lynne and you could tell something was going on. Many who didn’t quit because of this (to be fair I only know of one who did but still) were still seething and were very much on the ledge. I hope they take a deep breathe and a step back and acknowledge (even grudgingly if they need to) that Nick Clegg despite being a privileged white man with no women in his cabinet doesn’t actually hate all women. He is bringing Jo Swinson along quickly and clearly sees something special in her – like most of us do and is fast-tracking her to the big jobs – and I suspect there is no bigger job for Lib Dems outside of the actual cabinet than Equalities.
Pretty darn good news.
If you haven’t read the e-mail from Nick Clegg (hah) ok purporting to be from the big cheese himself is a more accurate description – if you haven’t read it then here it is below:
Tonight I’ve been hosting a reception to celebrate the Coalition’s commitment to equal marriage, an issue I’m very proud that Liberal Democrats are delivering on in Government.
I was delighted to be joined at the reception by Jo Swinson MP – who I’m pleased to announce is our new Equalities Minister, in addition to her role as Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs.
Jo is one of the new Liberal Democrat team in Government; I am also delighted to welcome back David Laws and to bring Jenny Randerson, Don Foster and Tom Brake into Government roles. Their ability, enthusiasm and wisdom will be crucial as the Coalition puts Liberal Democrat policies and values into action.
I would also like to pay tribute to Sarah Teather, Paul Burstow, Andrew Stunell and Nick Harvey. They have all played a big part in making our country more liberal and have a number of significant achievements to their names. I know they will all continue to have a huge role in our party.
You can see the new Liberal Democrat Ministerial team here and the full Government here.
Equal marriage is just one of the many Liberal Democrat achievements in Government that our new Ministerial team are committed to delivering. We’ll also be fighting to make tax fairer, promote jobs and growth, improve education and protect the environment.
That is what Liberal Democrats are in politics for – and what Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government will deliver.
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