Jonathan Fryer’s Diary of a Euro-candidate

Saturday

The sun shines on London Pride, as fellow London Euro-candidates Dinti Batstone, Christopher Le Breton, John Pindar and I march with members of the LibDem LGBT campaigning group, DELGA. They have arranged a stall right in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. While Nick Clegg addresses the rally there, our Euro-team hands out special focuses, highlighting Sarah Ludford MEP’s call for the US to end its entry ban on people living with HIV/AIDS. I’ve vowed I won’t set foot in the States again until that iniquitous prohibition is lifted. By the end of the afternoon, the boys and girls miling around are in the mood for some serious partying, but I am sensible and head off to Eltham for the Greenwich LibDems’ summer barbeque. Keeping in touch with local parties and reminding them about Europe is a high priority.

Sunday

Moor Park is right on the edge of Zone 6, just outside the London Euro-constituency but my Oyster card still gets me there. For many years now, Anneliese Waugh has hosted a garden party for Liberal International British Group (LIBG) at her home there. This year it rains, so we are all packed indoors, but there are three first-rate speakers: Emil Kirjas, the Macedonian Secretary General of Liberal International (LI); Simon Hughes, the LibDem Party President; and Lord Russell-Johnston, former President of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe. Simon pledged that the party will fight the European elections next June on European issues, which will make a change.

Monday

A briefing lunch organised by the Association of European Journalists with the French Ambassador, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, in the London office of the European Parliament. France has just taken over the rotating presidency of the EU and President Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to inject new life into that body, following the Irish voters’ slap in the face. I quizz the Ambassador about Sarkozy’s proposals for a Mediterranean Union, which will link the EU to all the other countries bordering the Mediterranean. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is having none of it, but all the other interested parties think its worth giving a whirl, even Israel and Palestine. If I do get elected to the parliament next year, the EU’s relations with its neighbours and the wider Arab world will be one of my key concerns. In the evening, I do a live broadcast review of the papers on PressTV, during which I plug the EU’s potential as peace-maker.

Tuesday

Lunch at the National Liberal Club with Peter Dunphy, who managed my selection campaign last year, resulting in my being comfortably Number 2 on the London list. We discuss what we’ll do at the Bournemouth autumn party conference, which is the best forum in which to try to whip up enthusiasm among activists about the Euro-campaign, though the conference halls and bars are likely be full of people more preoccupied about getting themselves nominated for various party committees and the new tranche of the Peers’ List. Those of us who are near the top of the regional Euro-lists but not yet MEPs have formed an ‘In It to Win It’ group, lobbying hard for a vigorous campaign.

Wednesday

Up at an ungodly hour in order to be at the German Ambassador’s residence in Belgrave Square for an 8.15am working breakfast on climate change, organised by Business for New Europe. These occasions are often most useful as networking opportunities. Fistfuls of visiting-cards get handed out. Robert Moreland, former MEP and one of the few remaining pro-European Conservatives in the Tory Party, shares his sorrows. In the evening, I have to speak at a multicultural gathering hosted by the Universal Peace Federation, on ‘Muslims in Europe’, where the star turn is Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh, whose books I use in the course I teach at SOAS.

Thursday

Pasta and Politics in Hackney, where Malcolm Bruce, MP for Gordon and President of LIBG, leads a discussion on Burma. Most of my political activity seems to involve food, but I justify my expanding waistline by assuring myself I am eating for victory. It turns out that one of the Hackney LibDem councillors was born in Burma, though he left in 1969, the year I visited the country on my way back from being a journalist in the Viet Nam War. We all agree that the junta in charge in Burma are bastards and that the international community should be doing more to support the Burmese people. Perhaps the next LI Executive, which is to be held in Bangkok, will come up with some concrete proposals about how that can be done.

Friday

I am invited to the opening ceremony and pre-reception of IslamExpo at Olympia. Circulating among the Muslim dignitaries while balancing a paper plate of samosas and baklava, I bump into Ken Livingstone, who is still looking shell-shocked from losing the London mayoralty. He says he is not interested in standing for Parliament again, as he’ll never become Prime Minister, but he does fancy another crack at City Hall. Other anticipated politicians are conspicuous by their absence; it transpires that Labour and Tory powers-that-be have ordered them to stay away, nervous about some of the groups involved in the huge event. But Simon Hughes does appear, even on time. I spend some minutes at the LibDem stall, with members of Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and get duly photographed. A golden rule of political campaigning is: get photographed everywhere. Well, everywhere you don’t mind being seen.

Jonathan Fryer is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and is second on the party’s list for the European Elections in London in 2009.  His blog has featured on Lib Dem Voice’s Golden Dozen lists over a dozen times.

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One Comment

  • So Saturday we support Gay Pride, Friday we support a murderous bunch of homophobic racists namely the Muslim Brotherhood’s UK franchises, MAB and the Muslim Initiative and their front event IslamExpo, the trendy face of totalitarian Islamism. Some inconsistency surely?
    While the party generally could plead ignorance I don’t think either Jonathan or Simon can. The other party’s rumbled these characters (it doesn’t take much checking)and rightly concluded they shouldn’t be touched with a barge pole why didn’t we?

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