Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Trouble on the backbenches?

Jo Swinson

While relations between ministers in the Coalition Government are generally going well (leaving aside some grumpiness on the part of Vince Cable who refused to do a foxtrot with Theresa May), it's a different story on the backbenches. Conservative backbenchers are disgruntled because some of them didn't get the jobs they hoped for and they also think that the Lib Dems have punched above their weight in terms of policy (which they probably have). David Cameron had to back down on his plan to neuter the 1922 Committee (itself the product of the collapse of a Con-Lib coalition) by allowing ministers to vote for the chairman.

However, there is also some disquiet among Liberal Democrats. Some of this again comes from people who have been passed over in the formation of the Government. But there are also policy concerns, particularly from those MPs who won their seats from Labour.

One of these is the feisty MP for East Dunbartonshire, Jo Swinson. Swinson is very intelligent and articulate, having achieved a first in Management from LSE (no mean feat), followed by a career in the media. In her late twenties, she is also very photogenic.

For a while Swinson was awarded the rather sexist accolade of 'Babe of the House'. But last year a younger Conservative woman won a by-election in Norwich and she has now gone straight into the government as an assistant whip. Some reports suggest that Swinson is far from happy which may explain the delay in her swearing/affirming to take her seat. She eventually did so yesterday, standing on tiptoe in the Lords to see the Queen and admiring all the 'bling'.

We may yet hear from Ms Swinson and not just about the concerns of her East Dunbartonshire constituents whom she cultivates very assiduously or the closure of Westminster Bridge for the state opening of which she tweeted a picture yesterday.

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