Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 21st March, 2007
Tuesday 20 March 2007
At the annual Liberal International British Group’s Diplomats’ Reception in the National Liberal Club this evening there was a heady mix of London’s diplomatic corps (from the doyen, Kuwaiti Ambassador Khaled Al-Duwaisan, down) and LibDem Internationalists. Lords Garden (LIBG President), Newby, Roper and Steel — all visibly chuffed at having just given the ghastly Blair government another slap in the face, by voting down the latest proposals to restrict people’s right to trial by jury — worked the room alongside MPs Alan Beith, Malcolm Bruce, Paul Keetch, Charles Kennedy, Michael Moore and Richard Younger-Ross (apologies to any present missed off this list). No wonder some of the more junior diplomats present grinned like children let loose in a sweet-shop. The Commonwealth was well represented at the gathering, not least the West Indies, though there was also representation from some countries not normally associated with the words ‘liberal’ and ‘democracy’, including Belarus, Cuba, Libya and Sudan. One could see some serious lobbying going on along with the networking.
By the time I got to Leytonstone afterwards, for the hustings to choose a PPC for the Leyton and Wanstead constituency (for which I had previously voted by post), the meeting itself was over, though the hall was abuzz. Over 120 members had participated, in a contest between three Muslim men (of Bengali, Indian and Pakistani background respectively) and a young white woman local councillor. As it was not possible to declare the result on the spot, the suspense continues. All a far cry from when I was the parliamentary candidate for Leyton, when we were lucky to get 20 people together in one room.