Sexism is truly alive and kicking in the world of UK politics – just ask Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, who was recently advised by someone to wear lower cut tops as part of her campaign to reach No. 10.
We’re all aware of the kind of unsolicited – and embarrassingly off-kilter – “advice” that many women receive while breaking down boundaries in male-dominated spheres.
As leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson has faced more than her fair share of this kind of guidance, as she works to secure her party a record number of seats in Thursday’s general election.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast this week, Swinson revealed the nuggets of misplaced wisdom she’s had to endure as part of her campaign to overturn Brexit and secure a Liberal victory.
“I get lots and lots of unsolicited advice,” Swinson says. “I’m not short of people telling me that I should speak differently or wear different shoes or wear different earrings. Or in one case, somebody suggested that I should wear lower cut tops.
“I mean, as if that’s going to be the thing that changes the poll rating,” she adds.
Swinson goes onto clarify that this kind of direction has not come from within her own campaign team.
“Not in my election team, but as I say, I do get these gems of advice that come to me,” she says.
“I am who I am and some people will not like the way that I dress or talk or my accent or whatever. And fine. In a sense that’s their problem. I’m going to stand here, do the best that I can arguing for the positions that I believe in because I do believe our politics can be better.”
Swinson is not shy when it comes to calling out the sort of deep-rooted sexism that is entrenched in daily political life in Westminster. The MP previously held Boris Johnson to account for using the term “girly swot” as an insult in parliament.
The politician has worked hard to gain traction in the current general election drive, having only been elected as party leader four months before the poll was announced.
The voice of the Lib Dems previously hit out at the “sexist” decision to exclude her from various TV debates on the run-up to this week’s vote.
“The TV debates about who will be the next prime minister of our country cannot and should not exclude the only woman leader who is able to be the next prime minister,” Swinson said last month.
Her deputy Sir Ed Davey added: “Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are running scared. They appear determined to block the woman leader of the strongest party of Remain from the debate stage.”