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A Woman of Fibre: The Jackie Weaver Interview

Jackie Weaver (Credit: Shutterstock)

4 min read

Jackie Weaver became a household name over lockdown, for holding her ground in a chaotic parish council Zoom call. Today, she tells Sophie Church why standing for Parliament would leave her with no authority

If you don’t know the name Jackie Weaver, then where were you in 2020? Not locked down like the rest of us?

Weaver, 65, is the chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils. But over lockdown she became a viral sensation for her role in a fantastically chaotic parish council Zoom meeting. 

Tensions had been running high at Handforth parish council and Weaver had been brought in to help.

During a call in December 2020, the council chair, in a line that was to become immortal, grumbled: “You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver. No authority at all.” With one fell click, Weaver removed the obstreperous councillor from the meeting.

I felt if you took the party whip, then you are no longer your own man; you follow the party lead

Weaver, a local council employee for 30 years with a taste for arts and crafts, achieved icon status overnight. TV show appearances followed, as well as a spot at the Brit Awards, and the release of her own single, Jackie Weaver’s Kicked Him Out. 

While an investigation into Weaver’s conduct showed she did not have the authority to boot councillors out of the meeting, the subtext of the investigation was: yes, Weaver did have the authority – the moral authority – to act as she did. The investigation simply proved what we knew all along. 

So, as verified queen of the local councils, would Weaver ever put her authority to the test by running as an MP? “Yes, I have considered it,” she tells The House. “And I decided it was not for me.”

Why is that?

“When you become an MP you have two choices, it seems to me,” she says. “One is you join the party, the party gives you its support, and the party tells you what to think. In the alternative, you do not sell your soul to the party and you remain independent. And then you can spend the next four years achieving absolutely nothing.”

As an Independent MP, Weaver would feel isolated. “I’d be stuck on my own at the dinner table,” she says, “Billy No-Mates.”

However, as someone so clearly led by her convictions, falling in line behind a party would be unacceptable. “I felt if you took the party whip, then you are no longer your own man; you follow the party lead.” 

With Westminster discounted, Weaver will continue to assert her influence on home ground. This means rooting out the bad behaviour that has become increasingly common within local councils – for which she blames Parliament. 

“When you hear somebody like Angela [Rayner], the deputy leader of the opposition, talk about Tory ‘scum’,” Weaver says, “it’s not the words she used. It was the hate in her voice as she said it. She couldn’t mask it. I think that plays out at a local level as well.”

But while Weaver has been demanding legislation to give councils stricter punishments for breaching the current code of conduct, she says the response from government has been “more than nothing”, it’s been: “no”. 

“We’re invisible and will remain invisible,” she says. “I’m almost in despair because we’ve put in so much evidence, time and energy. The government just seems absolutely unmoved by it.”

But being overlooked has proved the power of local councils, Weaver says. “It became clear, if you want a child’s play area, if you want to see affordable housing within your community, if you want to be able to provide community buildings, you’re going to have to do it yourself.”

So, what’s next for Weaver? 

“Oh gosh, I’ve forgotten what excitement is!” she says, with a merry laugh.

But somehow, knowing Weaver, she won’t be out of the limelight for long. 

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