Today I went to hear Jo Swinson speak in Bishopbriggs. She was wearing a black skirt with a georgian style ..
Georgian? OK, I admit it. I know nothing about clothes and as it wasn’t the most inspiring meeting I was trying to liven up this commentary by a bit of ribbing for the minister for women shouldn’t wear make-up and definitely shouldn’t have journalists commenting only on their clothes . But strangely, having no interest in women’s clothes I find I am unable to comment on her clothing even as far as the colour! (What colour is that?)
So unfortunately to business. To my surprise, for a public meeting being held by a government minister, given the 100 or so at the SSP meeting in the Kirkintilloch, the turnout in Bishopbrigss seemed very small. Is that typical? It also surprised me that a lady (or should that still be girl? Maybe mum?) – any way for someone of her known skills at marketing, there was a distinct lack of marketing. Not a single poster or one of those pull up things which even marketing naive UKIP managed to remembers to put up at one of their meetings.
And I was also surprised that Jo wasn’t as confident as she appears on TV. Perhaps five months out as a mother had dulled her edge, perhaps the poor recent showing of the Lib Dems was making her nervous. Perhaps Newark had dented her confident. Perhaps it was the small turn out (is it harder to face an audience where you look them each in the eye). Perhaps it was me – glowering in the back row!
However, to try to find a positive note to start, I will jump to the end (there not being much good in between) and mention that everyone present seemed to enjoy the meeting. The questions were well put, Jo answered them well and the audience agreed with the person who said that the referendum had brought back the public meeting.
Points raised by Jo:
- Unlike an election a referendum is for life
- Britain makes us stronger
- UK allows Scotland to play a more positive role
- And Jo loves being Scottish British
- UK is a single market
- Business keen to stay together
- Allows us to be part of G8, World trade organisation
- Unlikely to be member of EU at point of independence
- People trust BBC
- Don’t want to split family across boarder.
Nothing new here – and obviously I don’t agree re joining EU nor do I trust the BBC.
But perhaps the most relevant thing she mentioned was “additional powers” for the Scottish parliament. However we were also promised a referendum on leaving the EU – so until I see the text specifying what additional powers I don’t think that is relevant. One interesting quote was the following:
“I didn’t go into politics to make cuts. It’s horrible to make cuts”.
SURPRISE – UKIP!!
- The first questioner asked about leaving the EEC (EU)
And what did she bring up? UKIP! That was the last thing I expected. Jo waffled an answer about how she didn’t like Edinburgh having lots of power (something the wind policy will deliver sooner than later!) She mentioned phrases like “more devolution”. But then she returned to speak about UKIP saying: “clearly issues UKIP raised resonated with many people”.
- “Like many others in Scotland I’m English born. I’m British and – I don’t want my identity to be emasculated and become just a Scot”
This led to several discussions about what is meant by “British” and “UK”. Technically “British” was a word first used by Romans referring to everyone in modern England/Wales and Scotland. So, yes, Scots would still be Britains after independence. An interesting point – but we might struggle to get the English papers to agree.
- “What about my Pension?”
There was a long discussion about pensions. Jo made the point that there are far less people earning for each pensioner. The pensioner kept making the point that they should get more money. I couldn’t help noticing that they seemed to be perfectly capable of working themselves – so perhaps rather than expecting everyone else to pay them more – perhaps they should first find themselves a job?
- “Couldn’t ditching Nuclear weapons pay for pensions”
The focus on pensions does portray the average age which must of been about 60-70. It was interesting hearing a Lib Dem trying to justify nuclear weapons – done ever so luke warmly/
- “Why is a different currency a problem?”
Obviously Jo’s learnt a little bit about business and explained the basic problems of currency
A federal UK
Perhaps the most interesting point raised was a question about a federal UK. Jo made a good point about the relative sizes of the various parts of the UK and how they would need to be regional within England.
OK, it wasn’t much of a meeting. And I’m struggling to find much to say. So I will be honest, I had not interest in the meeting and only went in the hope of seeing the new baby. I can understand why the baby wasn’t there but still a disappointment!
I am ashamed to say this feels like my worst blog post ever. I can understand the lego figures she talked about. I just can’t find the inspiration to make this interesting.