On Thursday evening, local MP Lilian Greenwood came onto campus to speak to members of the University of Nottingham’s politics society. She discussed her career to date, the impact of partygate, and what it means to be a female MP in Parliament. Lilian was previously on Labour’s shadow cabinet and is now Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Commons for the Opposition. Impact‘s Head of News Lauren McGaun reports on the MP’s visit.
Lilian started her talk by explaining how her political interests have been vast ranging. From the environment to transport, she has campaigned on a number of issues since being elected to Parliament in 2010. Whilst initially not interested in politics, she had been encouraged by a number of campaigners to become an MP and decided that, when Alan Simpson stood down as an MP for Nottingham South, she was “in the right place at the right time”.
When asked about Labour’s defeat in the 2019 election, the Deputy Chief Whip said the Labour Party “succeeded in pleasing nobody.” “On Brexit, those who were passionate about it felt let down and those who voted remain felt we hadn’t tried hard enough,” she added.
An audience member then questioned whether Corbyn was entirely responsible for the party’s failings. “No, Corbyn isn’t solely responsible, it’s a collective responsibility for Labour Party.”
“However, he couldn’t command the respect of the whole of the parliamentary party. That didn’t help at all.”
Greenwood said the fiasco was ‘outrageous’
Lilian Greenwood resigned as shadow transport secretary under Corbyn’s leadership and said that the leader continually undermined her decisions in the shadow cabinet.
On the more recent issue of P&O ferries, Greenwood said the fiasco was ‘outrageous’ and called on the government to place massive pressure on P&O to reinstate workers.
Greenwood also didn’t hold back when it came to attacks on the government. “I think Priti Patel is immoral and horrible,” she said.
On the partygate saga, Lilian added: “Johnson so blatantly lied to the electorate when rules were broken. He’s not fit to be Prime Minister and I find it embarrassing that he is.”
Whilst political divisiveness has heightened in Parliament over recent years, she still says that discussions can be friendly outside of debates. “There are people I’m quite friendly with who I’ve served on the select committee with. I chat to Chris Grayling in the tea cue at times, even though I don’t often have time for him.”
Lilian expressed her regret in relation to the John Bercow revelations
With the rise of the technological age, Greenwood hasn’t been immune to online harassment. “People don’t always think before they type so you do get very abusive emails and tweets,” the MP explained. “You do have to develop an ability to let it go. Criticism is quite difficult to take, especially if it’s unjustified criticism.”
Also on the topic of bullying, Lilian expressed her regret in relation to the John Bercow revelations. “My experience with John Bercow on a personal level has always been good. However, I had the heard the rumours about him. It was incredibly distressing to read that.”
Greenwood then moved on to speak about what more still needs to be done to protect women’s* safety on campus, highlighting Impact‘s recent investigation on the issue. She has called for laws to be strengthened on stalking and wants education on misogyny to start at a young age. Nottingham was the first city to name misogyny as a hate crime and she welcomes this decision, but recognises that there is still a long way to go in relation to issues such as spiking and night time safety.
Enjoyed meeting @NottsPolitics this evening. Great questions from a friendly, thoughtful & engaged group of @UniofNottingham students. Glad to hear many of them keen to get involved in political and community activism (or reporting on it!) Photo thanks to @ImpactNottsNews pic.twitter.com/NL9wz2JKQq— Lilian Greenwood ? (@LilianGreenwood) March 24, 2022
In terms of the Labour Party, Lilian also said there’s still a lot to achieve when it comes to female representation. “We need to make sure our representatives are as diverse as the society we represent.”
“I find it quite baffling when I speak to MPs who don’t like talking to voters”
Asked if Angela Rayner would make a good future leader, she said: “I’ve known Angela for a really long time. I like her a lot and I think she’s got loads of strengths. She doesn’t always get things right but she’s a good campaigner.”
To conclude, one audience member commented on Lilian’s personable nature, asking why some MPs are unable to engage with their constituents. “The ability to actually engage with people and for them to feel they can trust you is really important. I find it quite baffling when I speak to MPs who don’t like talking to voters as it is a people job,” Lilian said.
Featured image courtesy of Lauren McGaun. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of Lauren McGaun. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to these images.
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