Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Ludford’
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 9th December, 2012
Sutton is rightly hailed as London Liberal Democrats’ flagship council but of course the borough was put on the map politically some years before the (then) Liberal-SDP Alliance actually won control (on the Mayor’s casting vote). Indeed, 40 years ago the parliamentary constituency of Sutton and Cheam hit the headlines when young Graham Tope — at that time characterised by his cruel glasses and wicked sideburns — seized the seat from the Tories in a by-election on at 32.6% swing. I was in my final year at university at the time but remember the subsequent Liberal euphoria well. As was rightly recognised at a 40th anniversary buffet dinner at the Sutton Life Centre last evening, the Sutton & Cheam by-election was the first time Trevor Jones from Liverpool put into practice his concept of community politics — which meant pounding the streets to identify local issues and then trumpeting them in regular Focus leaflets — including the scary example illustrated here. Focuses are such old hat these days that it’s hard to imagine the huge impact this technique had. The Conservatives didn’t know what had hit them and Graham became not just a local celebrity but a national one too. Alas he was unable to hold the seat in the February 1974 general election, but he went on to become Leader of Sutton Council, a Member of theHouse of Lords, a London Assembly member and one of the Liberal Democrat representatives on the EU’s Committee of the Regions, at one time simultaneously. Apparently he can, like Margaret Thatcher, get by on very little sleep — though there the similarities end. Anyway, it was a splendid occasion last night, free of pomp but full of good humour and enlivened with tributes to Graham from a variety of people who have served with him in various guises, including Lynne Featherstone MP, (Baroness) Sally Hamwee, (Baroness) Sarah Ludford MEP and former Sutton Council leader Sean Brennan. There was even some audio-visual entertainment, including a replay of the 1974 election night TV coverage, which included a nice potted portrait of the man.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Focus leaflets, Graham Tope, Liberal Democrats, Lynne Featherstone, Sally Hamwee, Sarah Ludford, Sean Brennan, Sutton and Cheam, Sutton Council, Sutton Life Centre, Trevor Jones | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 3rd December, 2012
In 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.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: David Hall-Matthews, Euro-elections, Liberal Democrats, Sarah Ludford, Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats | 1 Comment »
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)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Brian Paddick, Canary Wharf, Caroline Pidgeon, East Wintergarden, Ed Davey, Jill Fraser, London Liberal Democrats, Merlene Emerson, Mike Tuffrey, Pauline Pearce, Pete Dollimore, Quilliam Foundation, Sally Hamwee, Sarah Ludford, Simon Hughes, Susan Kramer, Tom Brake | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 23rd February, 2012
The 47-nation Council of Europe is little known and much misunderstood, particularly in Britain, where the populist media is in a state of permanent warfare with anything ‘European’. As I hope most readers of this blog already know, the CofE is a completely separate body from the European Union and embraces all of the countries of wider Europe, from Iceland to Azerbaijan and Russia, with the single exception of wayward Belarus. It has its own parliamentary assembly, which meets in Strasbourg, but this is not directly elected by European citizens, unlike the European Parliament, and it has almost no power. But the CofE does much useful work, for example in protecting media freedom, the rights of minorities (notably the Roma in recent years) and promoting transparent democracy. Of course, the main reason the institution gets into the British newspapers at the moment is because of the associated European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). This has come under a lot of fire recently in Britain, including from Prime Minister David Cameron, who in turn was strongly criticised by London’s LibDem MEP Baroness (Sarah) Ludford last night, at a seminar on Issues around Reform of the European Court of Human Rights, held at Europe House in Westminster. Mr Cameron likened the ECHR to a small claims court, highlighting how some of the thousands of cases that are sent to the ECHR for consideration each year are of an essentially trivial nature. Certainly, there are far too many of them, which has resulted in a horrendous backlog. Moreover, the British Conservatives in general tend to oppose the idea that the ECHR should have the right to ‘interfere’ in or ‘overturn’ the decisions of British Courts, for example relating to prisoners’ rights to vote and the non-deportation of Jordanian extremist Abu Qatada. But as the QC and leading human rights lawyer Lord Lester pointed out eloquently last night, much of the press coverage of the ECHR in Britain is simply wrong. However, both he and Sarah Ludford and the third speaker Daniel Holtgen, Director Communications at the CofE, acknowledged that the institution is in need of reform. Indeed, the parametres for this may well be set at an upcoming CofE gathering in Brighton. The CofE should probably try to do less but better. And when the EU signs up to the ECHR, as is planned, there will need to be some readjustments to avoid duplication. But it would be helpful in the meantime if British politicians and journalists who should know better stop slagging it off and misrepresenting it. Human rights and democracy are the cornerstones of the European world view, and the CofE is the right forum in which to work for their enhancement.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Abu Qatada, Belarus, Council of Europe, Daniel Holtgen, David Cameron, Europe House, European Union, human rights, Lord Lester, Roma, Sarah Ludford, Strasbourg | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 21st November, 2011
London LibDems’ Team London was out in force at the weekend, canvassing and delivering in the double by-election (caused by the resignation of two Tory councillors) in the Coombe Vale ward in Kingston. We were blessed with fantastic weather — though that did also mean that quite a lot of the voters were out! — and the ward is a fascinating mix of rather grand residences and much more modest abodes. Kingston-upon-Thames has been LibDem controlled for some time, the results in May 2010 (number of councillors) being LibDem 27 Conservative 21 Others 0. The lead LibDem candidate in Coombe Vale in 2010 was only 79 votes behind the third Tory, so this is a by-election with everything to play for. We have excellent candidates in Kamala Kugan and Rupert Nichol. It was good to be out campaigning on Saturday with London MEP Sarah Ludford, GLA list candidate Shas Sheehan and others and the ward can be sure of many more distinguished door-knockers between now and polling day on 15 December.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Coombe Vale, Kamala Kugan, Kingston, London Liberal Democrats, Rupert Nichol, Sarah Ludford, Shas Sheehan, Team London | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 4th September, 2010
With less than a fortnight to go before the Earl’s Court ward byelection in Kensington & Chelsea, London, dozens of LibDem campaigners have been hitting the streets in support of local champion and LibDem candidate Linda Wade, who is fighting to win a seat vacated in rather unfortunate circumstances by longstanding Tory Councillor Barry Phelps. The party’s Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes MP, was in the ward this afternoon, to do a Press interview and a photocall with party activists, including Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Mike Tuffrey of the GLA and myself. The Liberal Democrats last summer ended decades in the political wilderness in K&C by electing Carol Caruana to represent Colville ward (around Portobello Road). In May this year, Carol was joined by new ward colleague Tim Jones. Kensington & Chelsea has tended to be seen as the bluest of blue London boroughs (it is ‘Royal’ after all!), but the days when the Conservative Party ruled the roost unchallenged, apart from a few token Labour councillors in ’tolerated’ wards, may well be over. Certainly, if Linda Wade seizes Earl’s Court on 16 September, it will mark a sea-change.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Barry Phelps, Carol Caruana, Earls Court, Kensington and Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea Liberal Democrats, Linda Wade, Mike Tuffrey, Sarah Ludford, Simon Hughes, Tim Jones | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 10th July, 2010
Lynne Featherstone, LibDem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and now the Minister of State for Equalities and Criminal Information (sic), was the guest of honour at Sutton Liberal Democrats’ annual garden party this afternoon, in the spacious garden of perennial host Jayanta Chatterjee. In keeping with the Coalition Government’s new age of austerity, she arrived not in a chauffeur-driven limousine, but by train, like me. And from her description of life in the Home Office (up at 5.30am and only to bed at midnight, day after day) her tasks are demanding, despite the assiduousness of her civil servants. Far from being under the kitten heels of Home Secretary Theresa May, Lynne has been doing her best to stamp a LibDem tinge on her department’s policies; bilateral relations with her boss are in fact very cordial. Lynne was suitably prominent in last Saturday’s Gay Pride March — seemingly part of a new girl band, half-dancing alongside London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, Party President Ros Scott and London’s LibDem MEP Sarah Ludford. Lynne said that the only thing that impressed her children about her new status in life was the arrival of the first lead-lined wooden red ministerial box. The civil servants will be making sure those ministerial papers keep coming.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Caroline Pidgeon, Hornsey and Wood Green, Jayanta Chatterjee, Lynne Featherstone, Ros Scott, Sarah Ludford, Sutton Liberal Democrats, Theresa May | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 17th May, 2009
Today is the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO). Some people in Britain and other parts of Western Europe might think such an event is unnecessary, as great advances have been made here in countering discrimination against peope on grounds of their sexual orientation. But the rough handling of Gay Pride activists in Moscow only hours before yesterday’s Eurovision Song Contest was a timely but unpleasant reminder of the prejudice and injustice that still exists in parts of eastern Europe, let alone beyond.
Liberal Democrats, such as Evan Harris MP and the MEPs Sarah Ludford and Sharon Bowles, have been in the forefront of action in both the House of Commons and the European Parliament to get proper legislation guaranteeing equal rights for sexual minorities, as well as countering homophobia. I have pledged that if I am elected on 4 June, I will press for European legislation to ensure the mutual recognition of civil partnerships between EU member states that have them, as this is not the case at present. Liberal Youth and DELGA (the LibDems’ LGBT group) have also been particularly strong in raising awareness and campaigning about homophobic bullying in schools.
In some countries of the the Middle East, the situation for LGBT people has seriously deteriorated, not least in Iraq, where killings are now common — yet another negative consequence of the US-led illegal war. So, IDAHO is important, to remind us all of human rights abuses targeted at people solely on the grounds of their sexuality.
Links: www.homophobiaday.org and www.idaho.org.uk
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: civil partnerships, DELGA, European Parliament, Eurovision Song Contest, Evan Harris, homophobia, IDAHO, Internatonal Day against Homophobia, Iraq, LGBT, Liberal Youth, Moscow Gay Pride, Sarah Ludford, Sharon Bowles | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 12th May, 2009
Nick Clegg launched the party’s European manifesto at the Foreign Press Association in Westminster this morning, highlighting the central theme that we are stronger — and safer — together in Europe, but poorer apart. Though few members of the general public read party political manifestos, this is a document the LibDems can be proud of, not just for its slick presentation but more importantly for its content. True to the commitment made by the leadership many months ago, the manifesto really is about European issues, unlike its counterparts in previous European elections.
The main sections are: creating prosperity and jobs; putting Europe’s house in order; tackling crime, protecting liberty; a green Europe; stronger in the world; and working for you: Liberal Democrat MEPs. The last point was reinforced by short presentations by the leader of the British LibDems in the European Parliament, Andrew Duff, and London’s current LibDem MEP, Sarah Ludford. There was considerable interest from continental journalists regarding the party’s ambition to get the British electorate more engaged in European matters — indeed, to really see themselves as Europeans. During question time, a couple of BBC journalists showed a depressing but predictable interest in MPs’ expenses, rather than the European manifesto — but the BBC website, to its credit, posted a good piece, with a clip of Nick speaking:
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Andrew Duff, Foreign Press Association, Liberal Democrat European election manifesto, Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, Sarah Ludford, Stronger Together Poorer Apart | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 1st May, 2009
Islington Liberal Democrats filled committee rooms 5 and 6 in Islington Town Hall last night, to launch the borough’s Euro-election campaign. The sitting MEP, Sarah Ludford, is ‘home grown’ (though actually I first came across her when we were both living and working in Brussels) and both she and I rallied the troops, before a partly-serious, partly tongue-in-cheek video tribute to outgoing Council leader James Kempton was shown. His former deputy, Terry Stacey — who hails from my London adopted home, Tower Hamlets — has taken over as group leader.
The venue was nostalgic for some, as it was there that the count was held for the Hillrise local by-election in December 1999, when a massive swing to the LibDems delivered not only the ward but also the Council into their hands. Over the intervening decade, the party has turned the borough authority from a ‘poor’ to an ‘excellent’ performer, though it got a nasty shock in 2006 when it almost lost control, in part, at least, for not listening sufficiently to local residents’ grumbles about parking issues.
The Labour opposition in Islington — still of the red-flag socialist variety in the main — was in a bloody mood at the recent budget meeting, determined to try and foist a big council tax rise on Islington’s residents. But their failure bodes well for the fortunes of the LibDems for strengthening their hold on the Council again in May next year and for electing Bridget Fox as the next MP for Islington South — aims which will certainly be advanced by a vigorous Euro-campaign over the next month, to ‘Make it 2!’ London LibDem MEPs.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Bridget Fox, Sarah Ludford, Tower Hamlets, Islington South, Islington Liberal Democrats, Islington Council, James Kempton, Terry Stacey, Hillrise ward byelection | 1 Comment »