Jo Swinson might lose her seat. Meet the team working beyond party lines to make it happen.

Jo Swinson
Brian Finlay

On 12 December, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson will defend her seat in the Scottish constituency of East Dunbartonshire. But as the Daily Record suggested on 30 November, Swinson seems to be a “Marmite candidate”. But she’s become less and less loved as this election continues. UK-wide, Swinson’s popularity has plummeted during the general election campaign.

But that’s not Swinson’s only problem. A group of activists are working beyond party politics to try and unseat her. The No Mo’ Jo campaign aims to highlight the Lib Dem leader’s horrific voting record and U-turns across East Dunbartonshire.

No Mo’ Jo

Neil Scott is the founder of the left-leaning and pro-Scottish independence podcast Ungagged, he spoke exclusively to The Canary. As a primary school teacher in one of Glasgow’s most deprived areas, Scott wants to see the back of his current MP Swinson. He said:

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I see families falling off the precipice every day…. I see the utter devastation [Swinson’s] enthusiastic support for Tory welfare and health legislation has created. The social impact on families, and utter powerlessness of parents to create stable homes for their wonderful little children because of the vicious Universal Credit, and the resulting choices of food or heat or clothing on children’s physical and mental health is terrible.

Scott also explained the No Mo’ Jo campaign is a collective effort by “activists from Ungagged, and activists I have come to know from the early 2000s onwards, some in East Dun, some outside”.

The letter

Scott went on to explain what the team is doing on the ground. He wrote a short letter to be distributed to Swinson’s constituents, detailing some of her actions as MP. Moreover, a local digital artist created an image accompanied with the simple question – “Do you know Jo?”.

The letter is not directly party political. It encourages constituents to think again before voting for Swinson.

No Mo’ Jo campaigners have been delivering the letter to homes across the constituency. They’ve also given it out at train stations and other public spaces around East Dunbartonshire. The team has already distributed 6,000 letters and plan another 3,000 before polling day.

“The Tories of various shades…”

In 2015, Swinson lost her seat to the SNP. She formerly held a junior minister post in Lib Dem-Conservative coalition government. In 2017, Swinson won her seat back. The SNP remains the closest contender to beat the Lib Dem leader on 12 December. The Lib Dems currently have a majority of 5,339 and secured 40.6% in 2017 – 10% more than the SNP. But nationally the SNP is currently polling +7% on its performance in 2017 – making it a tight two-horse race.

No Mo’ Jo campaigner Charlie McCarthy also wants to see his MP Swinson lose her seat. Speaking to the Canary, he said:

The Tories of various shades have intensified their class war against ordinary people, it’s time for all Socialists and genuine progressives to put petty party politics to the side and defend our class, this is literally a matter of life and death as austerity leaves its toll. The membership of the SNP is to the left of the Scottish Labour party’s membership, while the UK leadership talks my language more than Nicola’s team, we need to come together before it’s too late.

Although McCarthy supports Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, he has been campaigning for the SNP candidate Amy Callaghan. As the National reported on 17 November, Callaghan is “absolutely over the moon” to have McCarthy’s support in the run-up to polling day. The SNP candidate said, “The most important thing we can do is unite and create a more fair Scotland and that is what Charlie is doing”.

“I’ve never met the ‘local lass’ Jo”

No Mo’ Jo campaigner and the group’s leaflet designer Debra Torrance also spoke to The Canary saying she’s never even met the “local lass Jo”. Torrance went on to say:

[Swinson] has been a no show at several recent hustings and her insincere acknowledgement of her part in some of the worst austerity and benefit sanctions imposed on sick and disabled folk makes me boak.

Founding member of Faslane Peace Camp and supporter of the No Mo’ Jo campaign Lousie Robertson told The Canary:

I don’t want this woman anywhere near the nuclear button. How can you declare an environmental crisis then be prepared to destroy the climate?

Another No Mo’ Jo campaigner Val Waldron simply believes “[Swinson] is phoney and unprincipled to the core”. That’s a good enough reason as any.

It’s hard to disagree…

The No Mo’ Jo campaigners are doing the UK a great service. Because Swinson and her appalling voting record have no place in Westminster. As Scottish journalist Eve Livingston wrote in the Guardian, Swinson is also more likely to back Johnson in government over Corbyn.

So, it’s time to go, Jo. And with grassroots campaigners on the ground in East Dunbartonshire, let’s all hope this seat will be an SNP gain on the 12 December.

Featured image via Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament 

Get involved

  • Want to help the No Mo’ Jo campaign? Chip into the Ungagged fundraiser here.
  • Follow Ungagged on Twitter and Facebook.

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