Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for May 14th, 2007

One Perry and a Foster’s

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 14th May, 2007

jf-and-don-foster.jpgMonday evening began with a library talk by the octogenarian Sir Peregrine (‘Perry’) Worsthorne, former Deputy Editor of the Sunday Telegraph, and still a contributor to the online daily magazine, TheFirstPost. Perry’s subject was A Tale of Two Cities — not the Dickens novel, as one might imagine, but a highly personal view of the City of London pre- and post-Big Bang. He got an unusual insight into the Square Mile at a tender age, as his mother married the then Governor of the Bank of England, the famously austere Sir Montagu Norman, who went to work on the tube and sometimes came down to dinner without socks. The big difference after 1986, Perry argued, was that before it had been considered somewhat distasteful, even ungodly, to make pots of money and talk about it, whereas now this trait is admired. Certainly, when one reads the popular press, there seems to be a price tag on everything — from the value of the houses people live in to the cost of their shoes.

Not that one should deride the everyday interests of the man and the woman in the street, of course. Indeed, it is a duty of both the press and politicians to be ‘in touch’ — which was a theme picked up at dinner later in the evening, at the Blackheath Supper Club at the Mountain View Nepalese Restaurant, where Don Foster, MP for Bath, was the guest speaker. Don has been the LibDems’ spokesman on Culture, Media and Sport for some time now and relishes the position (well, it isn’t exactly a hardship task to attend Wimbledon and the FA Cup Final, is it, or to go to the openings of major exhibitions?). But as Don said, it is a role that keeps him in tune with many of the issues that ordinary people actually care about, as opposed to some of the high falutin’ policy stuff that is mainly of interest to wonks. From his position he can, for example, point to the fact that season tickets to premier league football clubs are far more expensive in England than in other European countries — and thus way out of many people’s reach. Moreover, there is a whole network of media that special interest groups follow with devotion, from fanzines to slot machine publications, through which truly engaged politicians can communicate on things that really matter to the groups concerned. 

Links: www.thefirstpost.co.uk and www.donfoster.co.uk  

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Hazel Blears: Labour’s Bush-baby

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 14th May, 2007

hazel-blears.jpgThere’s a fascinating piece in today’s Guardian outlining the views of the six contenders for the Labour deputy leadership, based on interviews covering various fields, including foreign policy. Interestingly, all but one of the candidates hoping to step into John Prescott’s shoes distance themselves from the Blair-Bush love-in. The exception is none other than the Labour Party Chair, Hazel Blears, who, following boundary changes, is hoping to represent the place I grew up in: Eccles. On the issue of transatlantic ties, she declares: ‘The relationship must be strong, in the interests of the British people. Americans and Britons share so much culture and have shared values.’ Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. As I have asserted before, I believe British people in general have more culture and values in common with our European neighbours than we do with the Americans. Think the right to carry a gun, saluting the flag every morning at school, Guantanamo Bay, or being opposed to the International Criminal Court. Humm. At least the other five would-be Number 2s have a more coherent idea about the desirable level of transatlantic friendliness.  I guess if I were a Labour Party member (something I have never been tempted to become!), I would plump for Hilary Benn. Anyway, even if we are being denied a real contest for the leadership of Britain’s governing party, at least the deputy leadership race will be worth watching!

Link: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,,2078939,00.html

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