Remembering Jonathan Fryer

It’s just over 3 weeks since Ed Fordham told us in a typically empathetic and eloquent post that well known LIb Dem internationalist, broadcaster and blogger Jonathan Fryer had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Ed wrote:

In 2006 Jonathan and I didn’t win the ward of Hampstead Town in Camden for the Liberal Democrats. We failed in that short term objective but that campaign saw the Liberal Democrats emerge as the largest party on the Council and for the first time ever we led the Council under Cllr Keith Moffitt. Camden Liberal Democrats under the tutelage of Cllr Flick Rea had mastered politics and sociability. This was the principle of an army marches on its belly and under the organisation of Janet Grauberg, Louise Malin and others we fed and watered our army through a dazzling array of discussion and events. Jonathan, himself living in Bow for much of the time, was always present. I quizzed him on why he always attended: “grassroots politics” was his simple and, for me, utterly compelling answer.

A Quaker and European, a writer and traveller, homosexual and a campaigner Jonathan understood that you must be there and he always was. Jonathan is still with us but he has posted his farewell. It is perhaps the most compelling and shocking Facebook message from any friend I have ever read. He captured his own bravery, his radical soul and his clarity of thought.

Sadly, on Friday, we heard that Jonathan had died. His friend Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett posted a photo of the two of them in the grounds of the hospice, taken on Easter Sunday. Jonathan was drinking a Campari Negroni. It’s so sad to lose someone who was such a powerful liberal voice who was so well thought of here and across the world.

When he announced on Facebook that he was dying, it  was so shocking, but at the same time it felt like he was giving us the enormous privilege of saying goodbye to him that we so often don’t get.

Here are some of the tributes posted on Twitter which show how much he was loved in and beyond the liberal world.

The President of Liberal International took time to pay tribute:

We send our love and support to Jonathan’s friends and family.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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8 Comments

  • Jonathan was well known across London Liberal Democrats. A man of great intelligence, a compelling speaker and committed Internationalist who garnered respect wherever he went.

  • Jonathan was a prolific blogger. In visiting his site, I came across this review from August last year of “The Land Drenched in Tears”, a book by Söyüngül Chanisheff’s, a Tartar woman from Xinjiang province https://jonathanfryer.wordpress.com/2020/08/05/the-land-drenched-in-tears/
    Jonathan writes “the catalogue of misery and inhumanity so searing that I found I could only read a few passages at a time.”
    There will be a backbenchers debate this Thursday in Parliament to consider the motion “This House believes that the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region are suffering Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide and calls upon the Government to act to fulfil their obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and all relevant instruments of international law to bring it to an end.”
    Ed Davey has called for a boycott of the winter olympics in China saying the evidence of genocide against Uighur people “is now overwhelming”.
    “… I believe Britain and our athletes must not take part in the Winter Olympics in China. If we did, knowing what we know, our presence would be seen as cover for a Chinese government committing genocide against its own people. No country wants to pull their athletes out of such major international sporting occasions, but we cannot compromise when it comes to crimes of this nature.”

  • Helen Dudden 18th Apr '21 - 6:32pm

    The Human Rights genocide issue’s
    have been known for sometime. China should not be allowed to benefit, from indifference in continuing this support of the Winter Olympic game’s.

  • Derek Barrie, Tony Greaves, Shirley Williams, and now this. What a truly dreadful few weeks for the LibDem family.

  • Jonathan’s commitment to human rights and the rule of (international) law were key drivers for him. He was Chair of the Federal International Relations Committee until his death and prior to that had been Chair of the Lib Dem Friends of Palestine for four years. He was also a Board member of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) for many years.

  • Paul Reynolds 18th Apr '21 - 8:43pm

    A sad time. Jonathan showed so much courage in his last days and in the period since that day when he learned that his illness was terminal, last month. A sad loss for the Party and indeed for the global world of journalism and international politics. Jonathan will be sorely missed. I wish to to pay tribute to the extraordinary fortitude of Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett in providing help and companionship for Jonathan over his last days. Thank you Adrian.

  • I had the privilege of meeting him when he came to Bangkok once. A very nice man.

  • Michael Meadowcroft has written an obituary today on the Guardian’s website at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/28/jonathan-fryer-obituary

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