History will be made this week when Jenny Willott, the Business minister, becomes the first Liberal Democrat woman to sit at the cabinet table.
In a significant step forward for gender equality in the party after the Lord Rennard scandal, Ms Willott has been given attending cabinet status. Although she does not have full cabinet minister rank, the 39-year-old will take her seat this Tuesday alongside the new women's minister, the Tory MP Nicky Morgan, to make a presentation on coalition efforts to close the gender pay gap. ...
In her new role secured by the Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Willott will promote more family-friendly workplaces and tackle issues around discrimination. She is to attend the Cabinet when issues related to shared parental leave and workplace rights are on the agenda.Congratulations to Jenny, who is acting as maternity cover for Jo Swinson. Jo is expected to return to her post later it the year.
Because the Independent links Jenny's promotion to what it calls "the Lord Rennard scandal", Lib Dems tweeters have already been told off by a Prominent Liberal Democrat for retweeting it.
But the truth is that women had far too little prominence in the party long before Chris Rennard became news. It is a great shame, for instance, that we have not had a woman Lib Dem cabinet minister by now. So it is good to see something being done about this.
More generally, Nick Clegg needs to beware of the idea that his inner circle represents an elite cut off from the rest of the party gaining traction with members.
At the very least, we do not want the next leadership election to be a contest between two men who attended the same public school.