I see Jo Swinson was promoting the proposed settlement agreements yesterday. Oddly the Equality Impact Assessment only runs to three pages and had nothing to say about employers who might discriminate against certain vulnerable groups e.g. target ethnic minority, disabled, older or pregnant workers. Staff at the EHRC will also wait with interest to see the results of the government's review of our budget. Already cut by 62% (from £70m to £26.8m) its hard to imagine how further cuts could be justified. We have already lost 300 staff, grants programme, mediation service, regional offices, helpline and our independence via the enforcement of a draconian Framework Agreement which even tells us how to communicate with Parliament. By the end of this year we will have approx 150 staff to cover all of Great Britain; hardly the legacy Liberal Democrat members envisaged back in 2010.
Alongside the sorting out of new PPS appointments following the ministerial changes, there’s been one surprise addition – the inclusion of a new Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister to take over from Lynne Featherstone because the new Lib Dem Home Office minister, Jeremy Browne, did not take over Lynne’s equalities brief when she moved over to International Development.
The sensitivity in the party and more widely over the fate of Lynne’s equalities work is illustrated by it being Jo’s appointment that headlines Nick Clegg’s first email to party members about the reshuffle:
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…
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.
I’m mostly away from my computer at the moment so I haven’t fully caught up on the PPS changes so far. One I’ve spotted so far which is great news is the addition of Lorely Burt, coming in as Danny Alexander’s PPS. I’ve only briefly worked with Lorely, helping her campaign team out with some computer database work ahead of her first winning campaign, yet that experience mirrors what everyone else who has worked with her says – she’s a great campaigner, a conscientious MP and a refreshingly different voice:
Delighted to welcome @lorelyburt as my new PPS – her deep knowledge of small business issues is a huge asset
— Danny Alexander (@dannyalexander) September 11, 2012
— Jo Swinson(@joswinson) September 11, 2012