Author Archives: Ed Fordham

Remembering Charles Kennedy’s character, wit, ascent and triumphs: a report from today’s London service

This was no wake, this was a celebratory thanksgiving to the Charles Kennedy we knew and loved.  Held, not in Westminster, but in Charles’ own London parish church – the Catholic Cathedral of St George, Southwark.  As one Liberal Democrat peer wisely observed after the service – Charles would have liked that the residents of the Village of Westminster had had to come down to his manor here in Southwark.

So often with memorial services of people whom we have lost untimely there is a sense of what might have been.  Instead this celebration marvelled at just how much Charles had achieved so young, and with apparent effortlessness.  This was a welcome and deserved recollection of the character, the wit, the ascent and triumphs of Charles.

There were elements that were not highlights of the service – but rather illuminations of the brilliance, the reach and nature of Charles himself: Jim Naughtie (BBC World at One and Today) reflected just how special and unique a politician Charles was; Ian Hislop, at the request of the family, read the serious and challenging Death shall have no dominion by Dylan Thomas; and former Intern in Charles’ office, Eleanor Sanderson-Nash held the cathedral spell-bound with her performance of Vissi D’Arte, from Puccini’s Tosca (and evoked a spontaneous round of applause).

Leading politicians from all parties – but largely drawn from the Liberal Democrat family – gathered as a clan to remember, smile and laugh.  But for me the real stand out feature that credits Charles the man, was the sheer number of Liberal Democrat former Westminster parliamentary staff in attendance.  This was not just their affection for him, but the truth that Charles had noticed them in their time at Westminster.  And so today they came in huge numbers to pay their respects.  Prayers from Revd Canon Mark Soady for example – clergyman yes – colleague and friend yes – but longstanding front-line staffer of 4 Cowley Street, well known to Charles, who acknowledged all staff in HQ whenever he was there.

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

Proud of Pride in Belgrade

Belgrade-Pride-1

International Office_with textI have been working with the LDP (Liberal Democrat Party of Serbia) for a few years now through the International Office and we have been concentrating on human rights and LGBT issues for the last 18 months. The first stage of the work the International Office and I have been doing, focusing on building LGBT competency within the wider LDP and supporting them to create their own LGBT specific committee in the Human Rights Council, culminated last month when I joined the Human Rights Council and LDP leadership at Belgrade Pride.

photo by: torbakhopper
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Ed Fordham’s Letter from Belgrade

I am sitting in a hotel here in Belgrade eating my breakfast. It’s Serbia so meat is the dominant feature.

But I have just walked around the corner of the block to the hotel where they are issueing the accreditation to volunteers stewards who are marshalling the Pride March today and in the course of that short journey I have passed over 200 riot police (I stopped counting). The roads are closed and the streets ghostly quiet.

I am fairly confident here and know Serbia pretty well – but I found myself nervous, uncertain and even tearful as I walked through the streets. I was clutching my phone, hiding my camera and very mindful that as best I try I probably look like a visitor.

In three hours I will meet other friends who are LGBT activists in the Human Rights Council of the Liberal Democrat Party of Serbia whom I will march with. In London, the UK, much of Europe we can be confident of who we are and who we love. Here people, friends, folks I know, are fighting, literally, for the right to exist and be themselves.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Good luck, Jeremy

Okay so here is the rub (possibly more than one): I massively feel sorry for friends, colleagues, opponents in the Labour Party who are faced with the very real election of Jeremy Corbyn. I genuinely believe that his election and his pitch would be a retrograde step for any party. An equivalent would be Nigel Farage tipped to win Leader of the Conservatives… which in the current climate Farage might want to think about.

But one of the jibes I hear most from Labour folk, and it is Labour folk, is that Liberals (and they can’t get the name right and choose not to) are too pure, to small and too broad stroke in our politics.
And yet, if I understand their concern over Corbyn-mania correctly it’s that he will confine them to unelectability for a generation.  And so they demonstrate their flaw. They quite like Corbyn – but they can’t vote for him because he won’t give them power. They might agree with him, but dare not.  That they can’t leave Labour and create either a new party or join with another non-Tory alternative because they are Labour folk – that is what I loathe about their politics. That their tribal instincts are so deep that they can’t be honest and advocate fair votes for local government, let alone our national parliament – even though they have allowed a series of different voting and counting systems across the UK.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 84 Comments

Opinion: Wear a yellow flower to honour a Lib Dem friend

A few years ago I gave a training session at Wyboston for target seat candidates on the role of the PPC.  I tried to make it interesting, thought provoking, even different. One of the roles I had on my slides was attending funerals of long standing activists.  The idea aroused some discussion with a couple of those present dismissing the idea, and one person present saying they were going to concentrate on the living only.  Well I would still believe that one of the roles of a PPC is to attend funerals of long standing activists.  Let me explain.

Here in Camden we have a strong and sociable local party – food and drink are a large part of our staple campaign diet – we try to make it fun, we have a scheme whereby if you can’t go, but can afford it, you pay to attend and those less able to afford are given free access.
With this sociability goes a sense of family – this is something I often hear Liberal Democrats talk about up and down the country – well so with family we pay our respects when they pass away.
Posted in News | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Opinion: On being beaten

After hours of counting on the morning on Friday 7th May 2010 it was announced for the world to see that Glenda Jackson was re-elected elected as the Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn.  Hidden beneath this was my own result where I lost by 842.  A close result, except that I was in third place – in 2010 the best placed third placed loser in Britain I’m told.

In most of the accounts of the 2010 General Election H&K as it was dubbed, is listed as the seat the LD’s hoped to win – Nick Clegg had launch his campaign there.  I was cited as a close friend (one paper even said I was his best man – I wasn’t!).

Indeed I remember at the count when the Conservative candidate went back to his team – he said “She’s won”. One of his campaign asked hastily – “and Fordham?” – “he’s third came the reply” – “Yes” they cheered.

But for me as I walked home and for the days afterwards it was more than losing.  I’m a Liberal Democrat – I’m used to losing counts.  But losing as a candidate it is highly personal.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Philip Vince RIP. A life time of discreet service.

philip vinceIf you have been a member of the Liberal Democrats, at any level, then the likelihood is you will have met Philip Vince or maybe you will have had a handwritten note from Philip in immaculate spider-small handwriting; if you attended any Federal Party Conference and before that Liberal Assemblies since at least 1957 then chances are you saw or met Philip Vince. For someone who never stood for public office his impact and commitment were unrivalled.

Despite that, constructing this biography has been a work of many conversations, tiny snippets of information, leads, contacts, shared insights – Philip was known by many people across the organisations that he involved himself with, but it is also true to say that very few people really knew him well.

Posted in Obituaries | 7 Comments
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