Third time lucky as Jo becomes youngest MP

From the Glasgow Evening Times

THE sign outside the home of Britain’s youngest MP said it all really – “Win with Jo Swinson”.

After taking East Dunbartonshire from Labour, the 25-year-old follows in the footsteps of fellow LibDems who have a habit of becoming the country’s youngest politicians.

Her boss, LibDem leader Charles Kennedy, become Britain’s youngest MP at the 1983 election.

Jo was swept into office with 19,533 votes – taking the seat from Labour’s John Lyons by a 4061 majority.

And she and her boyfriend, fellow LibDem Duncan Hames, almost made it a double victory when he came a close second in Westbury, in the Tory heartland of Wiltshire.

Today she woke up at her parents’ house in Milngavie still trying to take it all in.

After just a couple hours of sleep, Jo was already preparing for her first speech as Britain’s youngest MP.

There was much celebration last night as Jo’s dream

finally became a reality.

She only had time to take a brief sip of champagne and even missed a call from Scottish LibDem leader Jim Wallace, who had phoned to congratulate her.

A beaming Jo said: “It just hasn’t sunk in. It wasn’t until they handed me an envelope with advice for new MPs that it actually felt real.

“It was very strange standing on the podium and being a winner with everyone wanting to talk to you.

“The first two times I stood at elections I lost – and then nobody wanted to know you.”

After two previous attempts to get elected, Jo is delighted it’s third time lucky.

She stood against Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in Hull East at the 2001 election, at the age of just 21, and was a candidate at the 2003 Holyrood elections.

She said of last night’s victory: “It’s a really wonderful feeling and I’m so delighted. My family have helped me and been heavily involved doing all sorts of jobs.

“The dining room has been taken over with posters and leaflets, with my mum and dad helping to stuff envelopes for weeks on end.

“My sister Nicola even organised her forthcoming wedding to avoid clashing with the election.

“I don’t think we could have coped with both at the same time, so I told her July would be a safe bet.”

Jo said winning in her home turf was icing on the cake.

She added: “Standing in my home seat, every time I knocked on the door I never knew who I was going to meet, whether it be an ex-boyfriend or a former teacher.

“Now I’ve won it’s even more special to represent my own community.”

High on Jo’s list of priorities will be adding her weight to the Stobhill Hospital campaign, and the fight to stop the closure of Bishopbriggs Post Office.

She plans to link up with Stobhill campaigner Dr Jean Turner, who is fighting to keep A&E services open.

Jo said: “These are two very important local issues which I plan to become more involved with.”

The family home will no longer be the HQ, and Jo is now eager to make her mark at Westminster.

Her bedroom, where walls were once covered with Take That posters, became her makeshift office, but now she will have her own office in the Commons.

Last night the only moment of normality was when Jo and her sister Nicola, 29, nipped home after the polls closed to enjoy a pizza before the result was declared.

As Britain’s youngest MP, Jo is determined to see off any critics who may feel she’s too young for the job.

She is now among four young female LibDems – and she believes she’s up for the task – and Jo is already in good company.

Charles Kennedy was only 23 when he was elected, beating Lord Steel’s record of becoming the youngest MP in 1965 at the age of 26.

Jo added: “I’ve already faced the test of the people in East Dunbartonshire and I now believe I can do a job for them.”

During the campaign, party bigwigs were out in force, with high-profile visits from Chancellor Gordon Brown, Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling as well as Mr Kennedy.

But the LibDems polled 4061 more than Labour.

Labour’s John Lyons blamed boundary changes for his defeat.

Early indications that Jo was destined for politics came when she was still a Douglas Academy pupil.

As a member of the school debating society she was galvanised by the idea of proportional representation.

Jo graduated from the London School of Economics with a first-class honours degree in management, then moved to Yorkshire to work for a radio station.

She now works as a development officer for the UK Public Health Association

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