Jo’s marathon for leukaemia research
Women’s Parliamentary Radio
April 11th 2011

Jo’s marathon for leukaemia research
Target: £2,620.00
Raised so far: £2,770.40

If you would like to sponsor Jo go to:

Jo Swinson the Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, a PPS to Vince Cable, and co-founder of the Campaign For Body Confidence is about to compete in the Virgin London Marathon 2011 on April 17th.

Jo is only the second women MP ever to run the London Marathon following in the footsteps of her colleague Patsy Calton, a former LD MP for Cheadle, who ran it four times, but subsequently died of cancer in 2005.

At her height Jo has trained for between 35 to 40 miles a week, and fitted in five work outs during the week. She eats plenty of complex “carbs” but also confides that while she is running long distances she snacks on sports drinks and jelly babies too.

Jo who completed the Loch Ness Marathon in 2007, says running is a good way to “respect” your body and give you confidence. Our Executive Producer Boni Sones OBE caught up with Jo as she was climbing the stairs to her third floor office in Westminster:

Jo told Boni: “There will be tens of thousands of runners at the London Marathon who are not professional runners who don’t do this for a living but who will be determined to do this and train, and put their body through a test in a positive and healthy way rather than this continual obsession our culture often has with how bodies look.”

Jo has managed to stick to her training schedule despite working long hours in Westminster and doing constituency surgeries and fitting in events after undertaking long training sessions:

“Well I suppose I have run 8 or 9 hours a week at most at the height of my training, and that is difficult. When you are in Parliament from 9 in the morning until 10 at night, fitting in an hour at the gym is not that unreasonable and it normally leaves me feeling energised. The long runs are a pain to fit in, you need to have a good breakfast beforehand, and you don’t feel that active afterwards, but I have run for 20 miles and done a constituency surgery and a couple of events in the afternoon and evening, now that can be quite exhausting!”

Jo said planning those long training schedules around a busy work and home life is essential but that one London Marathon is enough for her for the time being:

“I certainly don’t think running marathons is something that you can do continually, it does take over your life, and I have had to plan the long runs months in advance. I will continue running even though I won’t be marathon training after this, it is quite fun to have something to aim at. I first got into this by doing the Race for Life in 2006 which is 5k and you can run or walk it for women of any age and background – it is an amazing day, and I realised I quite enjoyed it.”

Jo confides that she snacks on Jelly Babies and that she hopes to cross the finishing line in under four hours depending on the weather:

“I will get round even if I have to walk and if I cross the finishing line in under 4 hours I will be over the moon. It depends on the weather given I am from Scotland I am not used to running in the sunshine and the heat – I am crossing my fingers for a slightly chilly damp day.”

She paid tribute to the memory of her fellow MP London marathon runner Patsy Calton:

“I feel very proud to be following in Patsy’s footsteps, and we overlapped as MPs in Westminster for a few weeks. When I was elected in 2005 Patsy was very ill, and she ran the London marathon twice for cancer charities, after beating cancer once and then it came back unfortunately.

“I am a big believer in exercise for lifting the spirits generally and getting you back in touch with the fact your body is this amazing machine. I really think we should give ourselves a break on the body image front and enjoy our bodies and have confidence in them.”

Jo said she had already met her fund raising target for Leukaemia research but that donations were still needed:

“I am raising money for Leukaemia research. There’s somebody close to me suffering from that and that gave me the motivation to raise money for this research. A few decades ago there were very high mortality rates with childhood Leukaemia and now there are high success rates. Thanks for everybody who sponsored me and anybody who would like to sponsor me just go to”

Ann McKechin MP for Glasgow North and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Ann McKechin has been an MP since June 2001 and the MP for the newly configured constituency of Glasgow North since 2005. She was Scottish Office Minister in the last Labour government and is now the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. Ann previously served on the Scottish Affairs Committee and then as a member of the International Development Committee and was Chair of the All Party Group on Debt, Aid and Trade and Chair of the backbench group of Scottish Labour MPs.

Our intrepid reporter Linda Fairbrother spoke to her about how she managed to work as a Westminster MP, with the Holyrood MP, the Regional representatives and the Euro MP. How does “devolved” government work for the people who vote for her?
Ann told Linda:

• ”I believe Whitehall is very weak on Scotland at the moment. I am shocked by how little understanding there is about the impact of policies on Scotland. Ministers say we can rely on funds in Local government that don’t apply in Scotland. The influence of the Scottish office is considerably weaker since the Election and also in No10 the appreciation of the impact on devolved areas be it Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is much, much weaker and it does have an effect. Scotland’s voice within the current government is much weaker since before the Election.”

• “Devolution has been with us for 12 years, and the civil servants do work together. The civil service is aware it has to understand how policy works in Scotland, and I think the working is not controversial but is very strong.”

• “It is important we preserve the things that make the Union good. The fiscal crisis showed us the strengths of being part of the UK and how it protects us against risks and volatility in the Global environment, such as the problems in the Middle East at the moment. We want to preserve the best things in the UK but devolving power on what works best.”

• “My colleagues at Holyrood will tell you they don’t work office hours, we as Westminster MPs may have to travel up and down but their diaries are full too. I love my job as a Westminster MP it is the best job I could have, and my colleagues at Holyrood are equally dedicated and if you compared our working hours you would find they are just about even.”

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