Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson will not stand as leader of the party after Tim Farron resigned, even though she thinks most men in her position would “in a shot”.
Swinson, who was equalities minister in the coalition with the Tories and was re-elected as an MP in the recent election, was seen as one of the frontrunners to take the helm along with ex-ministers Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Norman Lamb.
Swinson said being leader of a political party “should not be done simply to achieve status, to make a point, or to please others”, and instead would be running for the deputy leadership.
In a striking paragraph, Swinson, 37, argued that as a feminist she questioned “what a bloke in my position would do”, and thought the answer was “obvious”: “Most blokes in my shoes would run for leader like a shot.”
But her conclusion appears to be: “Just because a man would do it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do.”
On the Lib Dem Voice blog, she wrote:
“Feminist that I am, I have of course wondered what a bloke in my position would do. It’s obvious. Most blokes in my shoes would run for leader like a shot.
“It’s true that my many years of encouraging women to have the confidence to go for that exciting new role have taught me that women often don’t go for things when they should. But just as often I have observed men going for the promotion when they shouldn’t. Just because a man would do it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
“I have consistently fought against stereotypes and structures that impose a choice on someone, rather than allowing them to make up their own mind.”
Some suggested this was the reason she should run.
On Thursday, the Telegraph quoted allies of Swinson claiming 74-year-old Cable is too old to be Lib Dem leader, and the party must not go “from the dad to the grandad” to replace Farron.