Jonathan Fryer

Posts Tagged ‘Mike Tuffrey’

Changing Gear in London

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 2nd January, 2013

fireworks-New YearThe 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. Of course, the kicking we received from the electorate then – at least some of it a protest at George Osborne’s Budget, as well as unhappiness over Coalition cuts – was not unique to London. Moreover, we have had some excellent local by-election results, which showed that the old mantra “where we work, we win” can still hold true.

Less visible, but significant, has been the way the regional party has become more professional over the past three years, including a move into larger and more flexible office space in Brixton and the appointment of a full-time Campaigns Manager, Chris Butler (backed up by the indefatigable Campaigns Chair Pete Dollimore and his team). Even if the results last May were disappointing, the campaign itself was much slicker than anything we’ve done before and indeed the candidates themselves were impressive and for the first time truly reflected the diverse nature of our capital city.

Team LOndon logoSo what can Mike Tuffrey look forward to? Undoubtedly more needs to be done not just to recruit new members but particularly to retain the ones we have. And given Mike’s particular expertise in London-wide policy-making, honing a credible, attractive and specific London Liberal Democrat narrative is going to be crucial to future success. 2013 is a year with no major scheduled elections in London, though local council by-elections continue to come up thick and fast. But this provides a golden opportunity not only to strengthen the Party further in the capital but to lay the groundwork for the 2014 city-wide borough elections and the Euro-elections, which will almost certainly fall on the same day. That coincidence poses several new challenges not least how to integrate a local campaign in which ruthless targeting is going to be essential with a London-wide European campaign when the Liberal Democrats are likely to be the only party putting out an essentially positive message on Europe – and rightly so. At least the eight London Euro-candidates – who have been in place since 1 December – are already part of the integrated team. Those of us who have not gone abroad for New Year will be joining the first regional action day of the year this Saturday in North Kingston (Richmond Park).

Jonathan Fryer is the immediate past Chair of London Liberal Democrats and is Number 2 on the London Euro-list.  

N.B. This post first appeared as an oped on LibDemVoice: http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-changing-gear-in-london-32463.html#utm_source=tweet&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=twitter

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London LibDem Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 20th October, 2012

London Liberal Democrats descended on Croydon today for our autumn conference, which also featured a Question and Answer session with nine of the ten shortlisted London Euro-candidates. The full hustings will be at Friends House, Euston Road, on Sunday 4 November. But the star turn of the day today was guest speaker Elif Shafak, the Turkish novelist who writes in both Turkish and English, including penning articles for The Guardian from time to time. She read an extract from her latest novel and also spoke on the theme of identity and belonging, especially in the context of a migratory life. While no model of multiculturalism is perfect, she feels London is an amazing place to be, and rather regrets that Kemalist Turkey modeled itself on France, laicité and all. Today was also special as it provided a platform to launch the by-election campaign for the newly-selected Croydon North Liberal Democrat candidate Marisha Ray. By a coincidence that Dame Edna Everage would undoubtedly have termed ‘spooky’ we had chosen Croydon as the venue for this year’s autumn conference long before there was any inkling that the poor Labour MP for Croydon North — the much-respected Malcolm Wicks — would pass away, leaving a vacancy. In the extended lunch-break, accordingly, most of us set off to the constituency to do some delivery and surveying, and a very friendly reception we got too. In the afternoon, Tom Brake MP, newly appointed Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, explained entertaingly what that job entails. Brian Paddick made an excellent power-point presentation on leadership and then the man who will succeed me as regional Chair when I step down at the end of the year, Mike Tuffrey, gave a speech which proved why he is a very sound choice.

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London Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 1st April, 2012

With just over a month to go to the London Mayoral and GLA elections, London Liberal Democrats had their minds firmly focussed on campaigning when we gathered in the East Wintergarden at Canary Wharf yesterday, chaired by (Baroness) Susan Kramer. The mayoral candidate Brian Paddick alongside Caroline Pidgeon, head of the GLA list, presented a summary of their manifesto, which had largely been drawn up my outgoing GLA member Mike Tuffrey, who also gave a presentation on housing. There were several innovations at the conference, including a speech on Extremism by Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation and some stunning unaccompanied singing by Pauline Pearce, the “heroine of Hackney” who is the Party’s candidate in the Hackney Central council by-election that will take place on the same day as the main London poll, 3 May. There was also a “trialogue” question time which I chaired with a panel comprising London MEP (Baroness) Sarah Ludford, (Baroness) Sally Hamwee and Caroline Pidgeon. Ed Davey, the Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change, spoke about his role in government and MPs Tom Brake and Simon Hughes shared their views on the current state of play. A central message was that Liberal Democrats should be proud of what we have achieved as the junior partner in Government but we will be campaigning in these elections on a purely Liberal Democrat platform, even if that sometimes diverges from Coalition policy. At the drinks reception at the end of the busy day several participants said it was the best London Liberal Democrat ever, for which thanks must go to Conference Committee Chair Jill Fraser and her team, including Pete Dollimore, who facilitated the training sessions going on in parallel with the plenary.

(photo by Merlene Emerson)

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Mike Tuffrey and London’s Shite Air Quality

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 19th January, 2012

During his 10 years on the London Assembly, LibDem Mike Tuffrey has made environmental issues one of his top priorities. And although he is standing down in May, he is still a man on a mission, all guns metaphorically firing, on the matter of London’s poor air quality. As he told a meeting of Merton Liberal Democrats at a policy fourm in Morden this evening, though we may not be able to see the pollution in the capital’s air these days — unlike the ghastly ‘pea-soupers’ of the 1950s — in Central London in particular the amount of harmful particulates and NO2 is often alarming. The European Union, to its credit, has set standards for air quality, to which all member stats are meant to adhere. In fact, these are only half as strict as World Health Organisation guidelines, and yet as the Mayor, Boris Johnson, admits in some respects London still falls short of what is desirable. The main victims of this are the elderly and children, as well as asthma sufferers, of course. The latter can tell when there is a particularly bad day even if the pollution monitors which boroughs are meant to instal and maintain are not functioning. Roads, or rather the traffic they carry, are the main polluters and despite all the publicity about the supposed environmental advantages of diesel fuel, diesel fumes are particularly noxious, Mike says. While some of us might hope that London could follow the example of continental cities such as Berlin and Copenhagen and make a concerted effort to turn our city more bicycle-friendly, great effort also needs to be put in to encourage the shift towards electric vehicles, especially light goods vehicles. Mike also pointed out that Heathrow is the one serious blackspot outside the centre of London, not just because of the aircraft but also because of all the vehicles that transfer the passengers to and from the airport. Tougher standards on what sort of vehicles can enter the airport would certainly help, but it is unlikely BAA would agree to such a measure. In the meantime, though, Mike stressed that although environmental issues rank relatively low in the priorities of a majority of London’s voters, health is a major concern. And poor air quality is even more of a health mattter than it is an environmental concern.

Link: www.mertonlibdems.org.uk

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Launching Brian Paddick

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 5th September, 2011

Brian Paddick’s campaign as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London had its press launch at the Party’s new national HQ in Westminster this morning, with most of the GLA List candidates — headed by Caroline Pidgeon — also present. Media included the BBC, ITN and the Press Association, as well as Spectrum Radio. Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the LibDems, introduced Brian, making the point that recent events in London have underlined why having a candidate with hands-on experience of policing is singularly relevant. The current Mayor, Boris Johnson, has proved his inability to oversee London’s policing personally, whereas Brian would relish the task. Inevitably, law and order figured prominently in the Q&A at the launch, but Brian was keen to emphasize the fact that he is not a one-trick pony. He has the expertise of the current GLA members — Dee Doocey, Caroline Pidgeon and Mike Tuffrey — to draw on, and he will now embark on a listening exercise during which he will go round every borough in the city, finding out what is on people’s minds so the public can have an input into the final London LibDem manifesto that will be unveiled in the New Year.

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London Mayoral Replay

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 2nd September, 2011

With the selection this evening of Brian Paddick as Liberal Democrat candidate for next year’s London Mayoral elections the capital will be seeing a first: a replay of the 2008 match with the same three main party candidates, but under very different circumstances. Back then, Boris Johnson was the new Tory kid on the block, full of zany charm and quixotic ideas, whereas this time he has to try to defend what he has done — or not done — during his term of office. As LibDem members of the London Assembly –Dee Doocey, Caroline Pidgeon and Mike Tuffrey — have pointed out, as they have called the Mayor to account, he has not actually achieved all that much. Even the Barclays-branded bikes which he managed to have dubbed ‘Boris Bikes’ were actually a proposal put forward by former LibDem Assembly member (and now Coalition government Minister) Lynne Featherstone. As for Ken Livingstone, he is not so much yesterday’s man as the day-before-yesterday’s man. He looks tired and has said some pretty wacky things lately, apart from pissing off some of his own party members by supporting a controversial independent candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets last year against his own party. But the interesting transformation that will make 2012 a much more fascinating contest than 2008 is in Brian Paddick. Back then, as he himself says, he was an ex-policeman with very little experience in frontline politics and he had a steep learning curve to climb during the campaign. Three years on, he is a tranformed character, more relaxed, broader in his policy interests but also more effective in his media performances. He has come out as a voice of both experience and sanity on a number of issues, most recently the London riots and the News International phone-hacking scandal. Same faces as in 2008, yes. But absolutely not the same contest this time.

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London Mayoral Candidates’s Balls-skill Tested

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 31st July, 2011

Brent Liberal Democrats were blessed with fine weather at their annual summer garden party this afternoon, but also with the presence of all four potential London Mayoral candidates, who were strutting their stuff, as they have been doing valiantly around the region for the past couple of weeks. There was an unusual twist to this informal hustings, as they first had to compete in a game of bowls on hostess Freda Reingold’s lawn; this will of course have no effect on the outcome of the selection, but was a nice, light-hearted novelty. Brian Haley stormed to victory, with a throw that was almost up to the little black ball. But who among the four — the others being Lembit Opik, Brian Paddick and Mike Tuffrey– will win the members’ vote is anybody’s guess. Ballot papers (which have been sent to all London party members of sufficient vintage) have to be returned to the Electoral Reform Services by 31 August and the result should be known on 2 September.

Link: http://www.brentlibdems.org.uk

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The London Mayoral Merry-go-round

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 24th July, 2011

Voting has now started in the Liberal Democrats’ selection of a Mayoral candidate to fight next May’s London elections. Ballot papers have gone out to all London party members of more than one year’s standing and they have until 31 August to return them to Electoral Reform Services. There are four candidates in the field: Brian Haley, Lembit Opik, Brian Paddick and Mike Tuffrey — four very diferent characters with diverse experience. There will be one official hustings, which I will be chairing, on 27 July at 7pm at Hamilton House in Camden. But with the contest occurring during summer, there is a whole range of local party events for the four men to parade their policies and meet with the selectorate. On Friday Julie Horton and Phil Middleton of Islington LibDems hosted a particularly well-attended garden party at their home in Highbury Hill, with all four candidates present — and I suspect I will be running across most of them again this afternoon at the Croydon Libdems’ annual garden party near Sanderstead. I trust that all will also put in time at the St Peter’s ward local by-election in Islington — a seat held by LibDems until 2006.

 

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Dr Harris’s Prescription for the LibDems

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 5th June, 2011

The second year of Britain’s Lib-Con Coalition government is going to be a tough one, especially in the wake of last month’s local election results, which seemed to reward (slightly) the Tories for what the government is doing and punish (heavily) the Liberal Democrats for everything that is deemed unsatisfactory. Of course, the reality is much less straightforward than that. And as Dr Evan Harris — former MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and now a leading voice in the Social Liberal Forum — pointed out this afternoon in a speech at a Hackney LibDems’garden party, there is much to trumpet about what LibDems have achieved since May last year. Unfortunately, the media, Labour and to some degree the general public focus instead on the ‘car crash’ of the tuition fees débacle and a level of public spending cuts which before the election the Party was claiming would be too far, too fast. More significantly, Evan said that maybe the chumminess of the Cameron-Clegg relationship had been allowed to go on for too long. It has to turn into a more realistic presentation and understanding of what a Coalition between two parties with different ideologies actually means. That is not something that can wait until a month or so before the 2015 General Election, when Liberal Democrats and Conservatives will be fighting each other. In a deligtfuol mixed metaphor, Evan also said that we had to learn to see ‘elephant traps hurtling towards us’, in order to lessen their impact. In London, of course, we have the urgent task of running an effective 2012 campaign, in which Mayor Boris Johnson will be an obvious target — and it was good to see Mike Tuffrey, London Assembly member, at the Hackney event, to remind us of this. All help and advice from beyond the M25 will, of course, also be welcome!

Links: www.hackneylibdems.org.uk http://socialliberal.net

 

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Mike Tuffrey Launches JohnG4Mayor

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 11th September, 2010

John Griffiths’s campaign as Liberal Democrat candidate for the Tower Hamlets Mayoralty was launched this afternoon at a restaurant in Oborn Street (Brick Lane), with London Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey as guest speaker. Mike pointed out that Tower Hamlets is the second most deprived borough in London and the third most deprived in the country. Child poverty is the worst in Britain. This is despite the fact that Tower Hamlets is on the edge of the City and houses Canary Wharf. Mike also took the opportunity to flag up his campaign to improve London’s air quality, which is a major cause of asthma and other health problems. John Griffths himself said that one element of his ‘JohnG4Mayor’ campaign will be to pass power down to local communities such as Shoreditch and Wapping, rather than keeping it all in one person’s hands. A key plank of the old Liberal administration’s policies in the borough 20-odd years ago was a substantial degree of devolution to neighbourhoods — something which Labour immediately abolished once it regained control. The new Mayor will oversee a budget in the region of £1.2billion, which means that scrutiny is going to be extremely important whoever wins, especially in a borough notorious for unconventional practices.

(You can follow JohnG4Mayor on twitter)

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