Author Archives: Jonathan Fryer

London needs a liberal narrative

Last week’s elections in England overall were rather encouraging, with a modest but heartening rise in the number of councillors and the gain of Watford Council. But one relative black spot, in which the Liberal Democrat decline of recent years continued unabated, was London, where Mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon polled less than five per cent in first preferences – a third of the average vote in the country.

That is no reflection on the quality of Caroline as a candidate. No-one could have worked harder and many non-LibDems said they thought she performed the best among all candidates at hustings. After eight years on the London Assembly, she really knew her stuff, and she had some attractive specific policies, such as a one-hour bus ticket and continuing the Olympics precept but channelling it towards the building of affordable homes. Nonetheless, Caroline is now the sole LibDem member of the Assembly (out of 25). Once we had five.

This is all the more disappointing when one considers that London did particularly well out of the post-May 2015 surge in members and that London Liberal Democrats fielded the most diverse and talented list of Assembly candidates ever. They really looked like our multicultural city and most of them worked their socks off. So what went wrong?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 32 Comments

We must take Oldham seriously

The Obelisk on Alderman's HillBy-elections caused by the death of the incumbent are always an occasion for sadness, so our first reaction to the passing of Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, must be a sincere expression of sympathy to his family and friends. However, politics is politics, as Michael would have said himself, and therefore we have to face the fact that there will be a by-election before too long. Even if we should not campaign until after the funeral, that does not mean we should avoid thinking about the challenge ahead.

During the Coalition government the Liberal Democrat powers that be took what I believed to be a misguided decision to virtually ignore northern parliamentary by-elections, with predictably disastrous results. In a couple of cases there was, however, a tremendous surge towards UKIP, almost causing shock Labour defeats. We lost our deposits spectacularly, despite the hard efforts of by-election candidates and mainly local party support. The impression given to the wider public, however, was that in the North of England the LibDems are rubbish, even irrelevant. We must not allow that to happen again.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 54 Comments

Opinion: Syria – We still have a responsibility to protect

Several speakers inThursday’s House of Commons debate on possible intervention in Syria referred to the developing concept within International Law of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Basically that means that when a government is unable or unwilling to protect its own people from humanitarian disaster then the international community has an obligation to intervene. Since R2P’s endorsement at the UN in 2005, it has generally been assumed that any such international intervention should have the backing of a UN Security Council resolution, which in Syria’s case would have been impossible, given that Russia and maybe also China would have vetoed …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 54 Comments

Opinion: Changing Gear in London

fireworksThe fireworks over the Thames that signalled the New Year in London symbolically coincided with a handover of the chairmanship of London Liberal Democrats, as I ended my three years at the helm and Mike Tuffrey – until last May a leading Member of the London Assembly – took over.

My time in office was quite a roller-coaster, from the inflated national euphoria of Cleggmania just before the 2010 general election – when in the event we managed to hold on to seven parliamentary seats, but alas lost Richmond Park – to the frankly dire city-wide vote we received in the London Mayoral and GLA elections last May. At least we managed to return Caroline Pidgeon (rightly recognised in the New Year honours) and Stephen Knight to the Assembly.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Greece – a victory for all Europe?

Hardly had the first exit polls in Greece’s latest general election appeared last night than the euro rose on currency markets and shares in Asia rallied. As far as financiers around the world were concerned, Greek voters had got it right. The conservative New Democracy party had come out in front, albeit by a narrow margin. And the threat of a Greek exit from the eurozone, with possibly dire consequences for the world economy, had been averted, at least for the time being.

Posted in News | Tagged | 20 Comments

Life after Kim Jong-Il

The sudden demise of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il at the weekend removed one of the world’s most bizarre and reclusive rulers. Though there were televised scenes of schoolchildren, soldiers and workers crying in the streets of the capital, Pyongyang, when the news was announced on Monday, the mourning was considerably less hysterical than when his father Kim Il-Sung expired in 1994. Kim Il-Sung remains the sun in the sky as far as North Korean ideologues are concerned. Kim Jong-Il was merely the son here on earth. He had moreover taken the precaution two years ago of naming one …

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged | 3 Comments

Opinion: What Cameron should be doing in Brussels

When David Cameron arrived in Brussels last night for the pre-Summit dinner of EU leaders, he may have sensed a certain frisson in the room. He missed out on the earlier gathering of most EU Heads of Government, who are members of the EPP (Christian Democrat) Euro-parliamentary group and held their own important caucus. Until Cameron became Tory Leader, the British Conservatives were members of the EPP, but in a blatant ploy to get backing from Euro-sceptics among Tory backbenchers, he pledged that he would withdraw from the group, which he duly did, marginalising not just his party but Britain …

Posted in Op-eds | 59 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarStevan Rose 24th May - 11:43pm
    If you cut me in two you'd see EU Citizen running through me like a stick of rock. I value my EU citizenship above my...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 24th May - 11:41pm
    @Glenn "I live in Leicester so the shipping broadcast is a little irrelevant" Actually there is a large audience for the shipping forecast from people...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 24th May - 11:25pm
    D McKay I agree with you on Cbeebies (and also CBBC). Their absence of advertising and assured good quality programmes is a great boon. Our...
  • User AvatarJohn Medway 24th May - 11:01pm
    @Richard Flowers - congratulations on the way you have started a much-needed discussion. I used to be highly sceptical about this but the recent increases...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 24th May - 10:34pm
    I suppose we also need to accept the good that drugs can do. This is probably the mature approach. We can't ban everything that could...
  • User AvatarJohn Medway 24th May - 10:33pm
    @Leekliberal - yes, but I'm optimistic that Labour's commitment to PR will come about, if only because Labour members must realise that their chances of...