Slightly overshadowed by the Tory leadership campaign, the Liberal Democrats have also announced a new leader, Jo Swinson. She is the party’s first female chief and a keen challenger of gender bias, wherever she can find it, as GARY OLIVER wrote in this article first published by TCW on March 12, 2018.
His speech to the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference was a rare public outing by Vince Cable, who emerged from hibernation to dismiss Brexit as ‘driven by nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink’. For that contribution, he might as well have stayed asleep.
A man of Sir Vince’s advanced years (he is 74) deserves a sedentary life, but his recent unobtrusive existence is not ideal for supposedly leading a political party, even one as insignificant as the Lib Dems. Fortunately for the party, the deputy leader and heir apparent Jo Swinson is an eager beaver whose ubiquity compensates for having an inconspicuous boss who is marking time. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the omnipresent Swinson continues to view almost everything through her prism of ‘sexism, structurally ingrained in society’
Yes, it’s called sexism, structurally ingrained in society
— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) January 30, 2018
Many of Swinson’s utterances have potentially serious consequences, such as her campaign to criminalise boorish men by having undefined ‘misogyny’ added as yet another category of hate crime. But even the trivial does not escape Jo’s censorious gaze: she was recently back in the news when she publicly questioned the inclusivity of events known as Lib Dem Pint, social gatherings staged by branches to stimulate interest in the party. ‘I’m not saying women can’t drink pints,’ observed Jo, ‘but I suspect if you look at the Venn diagram of people most likely to drink pints it’s not majority women. And personally, if you had a Lib Dem Prosecco, I’d have thought that would be way more inviting.’
It is possible this is Swinson’s idea of a joke, though humour is seldom evident whenever she rails at perceived bias against women. In fact, coming from the impeccably PC Jo, her observation regarding choice of drink is gender stereotyping worthy of Al Murray’s cartoonish Pub Landlord: ‘Pint for the gentleman, glass of wine or fruit-based drink for the lady – them’s the rules!’
Regardless of the house regulations advocated by landlady Jo Swinson, it is perhaps a surprise that any fanatically pro-European Lib Dem would ever favour a staid British pint over the more sophisticated choice of a continental wine. Mind you, with the Italian electorate having emphatically turned to Eurosceptic parties, and as a protest against Italy’s outbreak of vulgar populism, expect fundamentalist Lib Dems to shun the prosecco and switch instead to Macron-approved Chablis.
Also, by suggesting that women guzzle wine and shed their inhibitions, the so-called feminist Jo Swinson is cynically exposing her sisters to the predators who stalk Lib Dem social events. An impressionable young woman hoping to learn more about the party and its policies will, after a few glasses, almost certainly be groomed by some smooth activist who, having flattered her into believing that by joining the party she can help stop Brexit, will invite the dupe upstairs to discuss electoral reform and softly whisper to her the intricacies of the single transferable vote.
Though incapable of having consented, the ingénue will wake the following morning to find herself signed up to party membership and indoctrinated into a world of unthinking devotion to the EU, quasi-religious faith in renewable energy and innate obsession with female victimhood – a hell which in due course will be known as Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats.