Jo Swinson is a British Liberal Democrat politician and Member of Parliament (MP) for East Dunbartonshire constituency and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment relations, consumer and postal affairs. She is also a junior Equalities Minister.
Swinson was raised in East Dunbartonshire and was educated at Douglas Academy in Milngavie and the London School of Economics, where she studied Management gaining a Bachelor of Science in 2000. Swinson signed up as an active member of the Liberal Democrats at the age of seventeen.
After graduating, she moved to Yorkshire and worked for Ace Visual & Sound Systems in Thorne, South Yorkshire from August 2000, then in marketing and public relations with Kingston Upon Hull based commercial radio station Viking FM from December 2000.
In 2001, at the age of 21, Swinson stood as a Liberal Democrat for the Hull East constituency against John Prescott in the UK General Election, and lost. In 2003, she contested the Strathkelvin and Bearsden seat in the Scottish Parliament, and lost.
On 13 May 2011 Swinson married fellow Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames. In June 2013, the couple announced they are expecting their first child. On 22 December 2013, their son Andrew Lennox Marshall Hames was born weighting 7lb 10oz.
May 2009: MPs’ expenses: Jo Swinson submitted receipts for tooth flosser and eyeliner
Miss Swinson, a Liberal Democrat who was 25 when she was elected MP for Dunbartonshire East in 2005, denied claiming for cosmetics but defended the use of taxpayer-funded expenses to pay for dozens of other everyday items.
At one point, she submitted a Tesco receipt for £22.67 that appeared to show that the MP or an aide went to the trouble of putting an asterisk next to three items, totalling £5.75, for which she intended to claim — a £1.75 chopping board, a “food saver” for £1.50 and a £2.50 sieve.
An Asda receipt included a bottle of Mr Sheen cleaner costing 78p and a £1.19 window cleaner. She also claimed for a hair dryer and £16 lavatory roll holder, along with a £14.10 invoice to have a spare key cut for her cleaner.
Public concern over MPs’ expenses has focused on the petty nature of some of the claims submitted on second home allowances, as well as the more extravagant spending of taxpayers’ money.
Miss Swinson’s records show that she submitted receipts for items ranging in price from a packet of dusters for 29p to a television costing £544.90.
Known in Westminster for the attention she pays to her appearance, Miss Swinson’s receipts contain a number of items relating to her personal care. They included a “tooth flosser” costing £19.10, which the Commons fees office rejected, along with a set of “toothbrush refills”.
A few months previously, however, and in an apparent breach of the rules that prevented claims for personal items, she was reimbursed for an electric toothbrush and hairdryer.
Also among her receipts was a £27.94 bill from Boots, which included a £5 eyeliner, a lip liner for the same price, and a £12.00 “R&M Eye Kit”.
Contacted by the Telegraph, Miss Swinson said she had not claimed for the eyeliner, suggesting that it featured on a receipt that included other items for which she did seek repayment. No items other than cosmetics appeared on the receipt in question — it seemed to be the second of two pages, the first of which is missing.
Asked why she had regularly used the additional costs allowance, which MPs may use to fund a second home, to claim for low-cost, everyday items, Miss Swinson said: “None of these items would have been necessary for me to buy were I not living away from home for half of the week.
“Most of these were approved and the costs reimbursed, a couple were not and I accepted this.”
“As a new MP, my understanding was that the ACA reimbursed the costs of setting up a place to stay in London, including duplicates of the various kitchen and bathroom items that I use in my main home.”
“The receipt for the Mr Sheen and dusters was with the invoices from my cleaner submitted on Oct 13 2005. However, I directly reimbursed my cleaner for these items and did not claim for them.”
“I am at work when she cleans my flat, so it was necessary to provide her with a key in order to get in. A television is necessary in order to follow programming relevant to my job.”
Miss Swinson said she claimed less than the maximum food allowance of £400 a month — usually about £10 for each day she attended Parliament.
Janary 2013: Jo Swinson wants to decamp from Scotland to England
Rumours abound that Jo Swinson wants to decamp from Scotland and get the Bath nomination to be nearer her husband in Chippenham, not sure how that will play out locally.
Last UA elections Conservatives did badly in the City over school reorganisation and local issue, and not on national issues, I always thought the elecotrate si more sophisticated than parites and pollsters give credit for, and will vote differretnly depending on the type of election and will vote on local issues.
Right or wrong and hence I never get too worried about local council by elections very rarely do they tell a picture of national feelings.
February 2013: Lord Rennard – allegations of sexual impropriety
She then went to Jo Swinson, the party’s spokesperson for women and equality, who is now minister for women. Ms Smith says Ms Swinson agreed to investigate and spoke to other women who had also alleged Lord Rennard had behaved inappropriately.
Ms Smith added: “She certainly uncovered … that this was a very serious pattern of behaviour.” But Ms Swinson told Ms Smith the problem with taking it forward was that nobody wanted to make a formal complaint.
Ms Smith told us “It very quickly became quite Kafkaesque. They were saying, ‘No one wants to make a formal complaint’, and I was saying, ‘I’ll make a formal complaint,’ and they were saying, ‘That’s a shame because no one wants to make a formal complaint’.”
But who knows? There’s a quote in the Mail from an anonymous “Lib Dem insider” who spoke to Jo Swinson, now Equalities Minister, as long ago as 2004.
That was before Swinson, then just 24, was even an MP, though she was already a rising star in the party, famous among other things for wearing a pink T-shirt with the slogan “I am not a token woman”.
The source said: “Jo Swinson said to me that Rennard had an issue about women but you have to put up with it if you want to get on in the party.”
The following year she became the youngest MP in the House of Commons.
August 2013: Liberal Democrat leaders failed female staff
Helena Morrissey’s inquiry into the Lord Rennard sexual harassment scandal found that Clegg, Danny Alexander, Paul Burstow and Jo Swinson “could have done much more” to protect Rennard’s alleged victims and investigate the claims against him.
It is surely pure coincidence that Alison Suttie, who described herself as Rennard’s niece and has been accused of covering up the allegations, has just been awarded a peerage as well.
The behaviour of the leader and his top lieutenants over the scandal shames their party and shames politics.
Sex scandal: Con/Dem Women’s minister Jo Swinson has disappeared?
Since the Lord Rennard scandal broke, Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson, the women’s and equalities minister, has gone to ground.
Why won’t she answer the questions she so urgently needs to, asks Cathy Newman.
July 2013: Anger as YOU Pay Jo Swinson MP’s Electricity Bill
As East Dunbartonshire working people, pensioners, job seekers and families struggle to heat their homes and pay for food, local Tory/Liberal Democrat Westminster coalition Minister MP Jo Swinson has been claiming from the taxpayer to pay her and her husband, MP Duncan Hames, electricity bill.
Swinson and her husband who have, at the lowest estimation, not including the fact they have expenses incuding food paid and subsidised, a joint income of £150,000 a year – claimed £569.72. This in the face of the calls from coalition members to end the £300 winter fuel allowance pensioners receive.
Politicians and their banker pals gamble and play with our money and caused the financial crisis, but seem to be the only ones not ‘in this together’, with the rest of us suffering wage cuts and hugely increased food and energy bills.
Jo Swinson and her fellow MP’s Voted against a proposed change to the Official Secrets Act – providing protection for public servants-regarding Child Sex Abuse
If the Lib Dems had voted for this, it could have passed. Why on earth did they vote to kill it? It can’t be part of the coalition agreement.
September 2013: Swinson votes for war against the wishes of her electorate
Before the Westminster general election, our local MP. Jo Swinson, espoused fine, compassionate Liberal principles and was generally applauded for her attitudes. It is very sad that thereafter, and particularly since her elevation to the Cabinet, she seems to have forgotten those principles and her compassion.
Jo has voted with Cameron and Clegg on all of the big ones. Principle after principle have fallen as her career and salary has taken an upward trajectory.
From University fees through the privatisation of the NHS and the lowering of taxes for millionaires and billionaires, the further impoverishment of those in poverty through the heinous welfare bill and the imposition of the bedroom tax on poor people with nowhere to move… this woman is for the House of Lords if she can topple enough of her principles to do the tories bidding.
She is doing very well out of her support for the Tories.
But of course, the only thing that could get in the way of this plan of a job for life (something a huge proportion of her constituents will never have thanks to her Govts attacks on workers rights) would be Scottish Independence, so she is working hard making sure she is photographed at every White Elephant, bazaar and three legged race in her constituency.
And now her voting for war. Like Blair and Thatcher did and look how they did! Looked after by their rich sponsors and never wanting for anything… Every lower middle class persons dream…
Cameron’s shockingly badly handled attempt at forcing us to war- his Maggie moment- Jo’s Maggie moment – failed. Reason, principle, compassion and the will of the people won.
And this and all of the dreadful compromises she made that have impacted terribly on peoples lives will be hers and her Rose Garden chums downfall.
November 2013: MP Swinson urged to ‘show consistency’ on unpaid workers
MP Jo Swinson is under fire for railing against the use of unpaid workers – despite her party offering non-paying internships. Campaigners have called on her to show consistency on the issue – and have accused her of promoting unpaid work through her Get East Dunbartonshire Working campaign.
They also accuse her of criticisng non-paying internships while backing the govenment’s Workfare scheme which forces people into unpaid work. Ms Swinson backed a campaign against the exploitation of interns – even though it was recently shown that the LibDems are the only party offering unpaid work experience.
Ross Greer, from Bearsden, convener of Dunbartonshire Greens, said:“Young people in Scotland are being hammered by her government’s policies and Workfare is a perfect example of this. Instead of investing in the economy to create more jobs, Westminster forces our young people into unpaid work experience.
“This system allows companies to hold back from employing new, paid staff as they can take on these young people for no cost instead. This creates a vicious circle of lost opportunities for young people in need of real, paid employment.”
Neil Scott, also from Bearsden, spoke for the Campise SSP, saying: “While Jo Swinson’s constituents pay hundreds of pounds for her heating bill we have to endure damaging policies, all coming from a Tory-led government that we did not elect.
Jo cannot campaign against unpaid internships on one hand whilst advocating unpaid work placements on the other.”
November 2013: East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson defends bedroom tax vote
A motion to scrap the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ fell short by 26 votes last week in the House of Commons. East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson was one of seven Lib Dem MPs who voted against the motion, helping to achieve the coalition majority.
The spare rooms subsidy has proved unpopular in East Dunbartonshire – with council chiefs and housing association bosses saying hundreds are being hit in the pocket.
The tax, introduced in April, means tenants have their benefits cut if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom. However, a shortage of one bedroom properties has meant many are unable to move and are forced to take the drop in income.
November 2014: Will Lib Dem MPs vote for a policy that will help to close the gender pay gap?
Con/Dem Equalities Minister Jo Swinson was asked in the House of Commons whether she would vote with Labour on the 16th December on the proposal to require big companies to publish their gender pay gap. She refused to do so.
Given that one of the first things the Lib Dems and Tories did after 2010 was ditch Section 78 of Labour’s Equality Act, which provided the power to require big companies to do this, this is not surprising.
But it was only three months before that Jo Swinson toured the TV studios and giving quotes to women’s magazines declaring that compulsory pay transparency was now Liberal Democrat policy.
She said voluntary targets didn’t work and firms must be compelled to publish this data. She couldn’t have been clearer, saying “Part of the answer is about employers taking responsibility for their pay policies, and analysing any gaps that exist.
Making large companies with over 250 employees publish the average pay of their male and female staff will create transparency about the gender pay gap.”
Lib Dem hypocrisy – saying one thing but voting a different way – has become their hallmark.
We’ve seen it so many times before: promising to scrap tuition fees and then trebling them, promising not to increase VAT and then increasing it, failing to back the mansion tax to pay for the NHS but standing by the cruel bedroom tax.
Well, it seems now we can add another to the list – equal pay.
October 2014: Liberal Democrats Back Moves to Greater Federalism in the UK
Lib Dems backed an emergency motion to move towards greater home rule for Scotland without tying it to any conditions, but to start work on a framework for a federal United Kingdom, at the Party’s Federal Conference at the SECC in Glasgow on Wed 8th October.
Katy spoke in the debate to describe the high levels of engagement in the debate amongst the public in East Dunbartonshire, to warn that the country needs to move quickly to give Scotland greater powers or the threat of another referendum will be back on the table and to urge Liberal Democrats at Holyrood and Westminster to do everything in their power to ensure the Tories and Labour don’t backtrack on the commitment to a swift transfer of further powers to Scotland before the General Election in May 2015.
You can watch her speech in full here: http://www.katygordon.org.uk/
November 2014: All the lunatics are not locked up. Means Test the pensioners
The Business Minister has declared that wealthy pensioners should be stripped of their winter fuel allowance to fund cheaper bus fares for young people.
LibDem Jo Swinson said subsidising rich pensioners’ energy bills with payments of up to “£300 [If you qualify by being over 80 and live alone]” each was hard to justify in times of austerity.
She said the cash should be used instead to help young people get to work or college with discounted bus tickets.
It didn’t occur to her that poor pensioners are dying at the rate of 200 a day in the winter because they are cold in their homes, whereas young people at work and in college are kept warm all day in their jobs or colleges because someone else is paying the heating bills there?
Perhaps even the wealthiest pensioners are more concerned about the 200 who die than is Swinson who, remarkably, is also kept warm at the House of Commons, is provided with subsidised meals and booze, and enjoys a huge salary and “Voted strongly for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits”.
No other section of our society is so vulnerable and treated so badly by Jo Swinson and her ilk that they live in fuel poverty. When these gas rings go off the lives of another 200 pensioners are at risk.
January 2015: Jo Swinson MP: Encourage boys to play with dolls
“Boys should be encouraged to play with dolls to make them more nurturing and caring”, Lib Dem equalities minister Jo Swinson has suggested. She said it would make them more likely to work in the adult care sector when they grew up.
Why should boys play with dolls, you might reasonably ask? To solve a forthcoming crisis.
The article continues:
The MP had warned of a shortage of care workers in future years and said it was important to persuade more men to work in the sector.
Presumably it’s ‘important’ to persuade more men to work in this low-paid sector – most jobs pay the minimum wage – for the same reason it’s ‘important’ to persuade more women to work in well-paid sectors such as medicine and engineering.
I thank Ms Swinson – also a business minister, as if British businesses don’t have enough problems to cope with – for reminding me why she was such a worthy winner of a Gormless Feminist of the Month award just two months ago.
From her Wikipedia page:
She is an active campaigner against packaging of chocolate Easter eggs, and each year since 2007 has seen her attack confectionery manufacturers for what she sees as excessive packaging of the seasonal children’s treats, which generally involve a hollow egg covered in aluminium foil accompanied by a branded sweet, encased in plastic and cardboard to provide branding and protect the hollow and fragile chocolate foodstuff.
She has named Guylian as the worst offender, followed by Lindt, Baileys and Cadbury.
How can anyone so mind-numbingly silly be elected not once, but twice, to parliament?
We can but hope the voters of East Dunbartonshire will have more sense on May 7 than to elect her for a third term.
Maybe she could be replaced by an Easter egg, thereby sparing us from exposure to any more of her ridiculous views.
January 2013: What anti business planet is naive Jo Swinson MP (Lib Dem) on? Why does Call Me Dave agree with her?
Jo Swinson is a Lib Dem Business Minister who is also an equalities minister. Based on her vast experience at age 25 of the needs of business she has come up with a cunning wheeze to make life ever more miserable for employers with yet more red tape.
Just what the company doctor ordered. And it seems that this is coalition policy.
Were the leader of the Conservative Party someone other than a pampered suit who did a brief stint in PR before becoming a professional politician, Swinson would be told where to stick her daft plans but that was before Call Me Dave made his party a “nice” party.
If Swinson gets her way, all employees (not just those with kids) will be able to request the right to work flexible hours and cannot be denied unless the employer can show a clear business need.
The silly woman wants employees to be able to request flexi time to avoid the rush hour commute. Or if they have a hobby that takes place during business hours.
What is the difference between “a clear business need” and just “mildly inconvenient” for the employer? I do not know.
We shall wait for the first industrial tribunal for constructive dismissal to find out.
And why the hell should employers suffer any inconvenience at all because someone does not like having to fight for a seat on the 6.42 or because they want to do a spot of afternoon cottaging or whippet racing?
November 2013: Lib Dem Unpaid Internship ‘Embarrassing
The Liberal Democrats have been criticised after launching a campaign to stop the exploitation of interns – despite being the only party offering unpaid work experience.
Lib Dem minister Jo Swinson is backing the video and poster drive offering new guidance to interns uncertain about their rights.
It aims to explain to people making their first step on the career ladder what their rights are in relation to the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
It also advises what action they can take if they feel they have been exploited.
But Sky News has found the only political party currently offering an unpaid internship is the Lib Dems.
John Leech, MP for Manchester Withington, has advertised an internship which comes without travel and lunch expenses, according to the notice on the website W4MP, posted on October 28.
The MP says the role will “provide an opportunity for a candidate to develop their employability skills” with the job description including secretarial activities such as “diary management”, “e-communication”, “research” and “casework”.
The internship is being offered for three months full-time or up to a full year part-time.
January 2015: Jo’s cab’s rank
Now, our prudent Lib Dem MP, Jo Swinson has been rather quick to defend her expenses over the past few years. And she has done well, after the accusations of buying ludicrous things were batted off.
And I quite understand, she can have a long commute to Westminster from Westerton. So imagine my surprise to read she has needed something called “business class taxis?” Surely a mistake?
Parliament’s official record has Consumer minister Jo Swinson revealing her department spent nearly £80,000 last year on “business class taxis”. Surely some mistake.
How many taxis do you know, Jo, which offer economy and business class.
April 2015: John Swinney owns Lib dem Jo Swinson
Another unionist liar. They walked through the lobby with the rest of them to cut Scotland’s budget by £12 billion.
April 2015: Jo Swinson MP Liberal Democrat, East Dumbartonshire
She accepted a donation of £2,000 from private optician company, Peter Ivins Eye Care.
She voted for the Health & Social Care Act that ramped up opportunities for the private sector to profit from the NHS.
The lib Dems have failed to oppose the NHS being included in the controversial trade deal TTIP.
April 2015: OK Where do they live?
The Lib Dem husband and wife Duncan Hames and Jo Swinson, both battling to hold on to their Commons seats, like to boast about their local connections.
Hames, who is defending Chippenham, Wiltshire, has attacked his Tory rival Michelle Donelan for standing in Yorkshire at the last election.
Hames, who is Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s Parliamentary aide, must have forgotten the fact that in 2000 he was the Lib Dem candidate in the Tottenham by-election, and stood in Watford at the 2001 General Election.
Meanwhile, Swinson, a Business Minister who is facing a Scottish National Party surge in her East Dunbartonshire seat, has sent a lawyer’s letter to a rival for suggesting she’s moved closer to London since the birth of the couple’s son in December 2013.
Despite these protests, the couple are jointly claiming for a home in London at taxpayers’ expense.
In fact, in the past year they claimed £18,312, which included rent of £1,318 a month, £617 in electricity — which is high for a property if it is rarely used — and £1,768 council tax. Their telephone bill is described in their expenses claim as for their ‘London home’.
And the rules are clear, stating: ‘Where an MP is claiming accommodation expenditure . . . the MP must be routinely resident at the property.’
Their expenses claims seem rather at odds with their boasts of being genuinely local MPs, and Swinson’s legal letter denying she’s moved closer to London.
Her husband’s constituency is just over a 1 hour drive from London. Deep waters indeed.