Splitting hairs? Jo Swinson is “Deputy leader of the (UK) parliamentary party” ?

Many congratulations to Jo Swinson on being elected as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat (UK) Parliamentary Party, sometimes referred to as the “Deputy Leader”.

Well, perhaps that sometimes should be “virtually always”.

The only reference I can find to creating a Deputy Leader in our constitution is here:

16.1 The Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons shall consist of all Members of that House in receipt of the Party’s whip. Its Leader shall be the Leader of the Party elected as provided in Article 17. It shall be entitled to make such regulations (not being inconsistent with this Constitution) as it thinks fit for the conduct of its own proceedings. In particular, these regulations shall make provision for a Chief Whip and, if thought fit, a Deputy Leader of such Parliamentary Party.

It’s clear that we have a Deputy Leader of the (UK) Parliamentary Party, when elected, who is referred to as “Deputy Leader” elsewhere in the document. (And please put me right below if I have missed something).

Yes, I’m quibbling. But, to me, if we are to have someone referred to as “Deputy Leader of the Party” here, there and everywhere (as in all the publicity and media releases last night following Jo’s election), then it is not rocket science to expect that that person is elected by the Party as a whole – all 100,000+ of them, rather than just by 110 of them in the (UK) parliamentary party.

But I realise that I am a fairly lone voice in the wilderness on this. It’s a bit like when I point out the difference between “percentage increase” and “percentage point increase”. People’s eyes glaze over and you can see that it is very clear that they think I am very strange indeed.


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