Jonathan Fryer

Posts Tagged ‘David Hall-Matthews’

Ludford Calls for Strong LibDem Euro-message

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 3rd December, 2012

Sarah LudfordIn her first local party engagement since being re-elected to the top of London Liberal Democrats’ Euro-list, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP told the Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats’ AGM in Bethnal Green this evening that the Party must be quite clear in its pro-EU stance in the 2014 Euro-elections and she pointed out that we are likely to be the only party that is. That doesn’t mean saying that everything coming out of Brussels is rosy; there are things that need reforming. But the electorate knows where the LibDems stand on Europe and it would be madness to obfuscate. Local member David Hall-Matthews — a prominent figure in the Social Liberal Forum — argued from the floor that if, as expected, the Euros coincide with the London borough elections (and in Tower Hamlets’ case a mayoral election as well) then it is essential that the Euro-campaign is indeed about Europe and not about British domestic issues, as has sometimes been the case in the past. I added the comment that we will need a strong regional and national campaign on Europe London-wide to complement the more targetted campaigning for the local elections, and highlighted the fact that among many Tory voters in Tower Hamlets and beyond there are those who realise that elements of the capital’s prosperity — and in some cases their jobs — depend on Britain’s being a full member of the EU. There are just 18 months left for Sarah, myself and the other six members of the London Euro-candidate team to get our messages across. And those must indeed be strong and simple and persuasively argue the benefits of being part of Europe.

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Is Pakistan Going Pear-shaped?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 7th October, 2008

Earlier this year, at a Liberal International British Group Forum on Pakistan, David Hall-Matthews (from Leeds University) and I gave a fairly pessimistic prognosis about how the country would evolve following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Some people at the meeting thought we were being unjustifiably gloomy, but recent events have only heightened my concern. Not all Pakistanis are thrilled with having Ms Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali ‘Mr Ten Per Cent’ Zardari, as President. But even more serious is the deteriorating security situation. The appalling terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad last month was only the most high-profile example.

This morning, I received a distressing message from a Pathan friend who works for an NGO in Peshawar, in the North West Frontier Province. The other night, a group of Taliban turned up at his door and demanded US$10,000, saying that they would kill him if he failed to come up with the money. Not surprisingly, he has gone into hiding, but both his life and his livelihood are now at risk. NGOs are being deliberately targeted by the Taliban in Afghanistan too, but it is particularly alarming that they now operate with such impunity in and around Peshawar.

As part of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive action in Washington’s War on Terror, a number of US attacks have been made inside Pakistan, without the approval of the government in Islamabad. Apart from the fact that some innocent villagers have been part of the ‘collateral damage’ in these attacks, the public relations effect has been disastrous, actually strengthening the hands of the extremists. So, far from being encouraged by what has happened since David and I gave our down-beat predictions about Pakistan’s future, I have the growing impression that the country is going completely pear-shaped.

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