Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for June 4th, 2007

The Princess, the Serpent and the Moon

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 4th June, 2007

princess-michael-of-kent-1.jpgPrincess Michael of Kent hosted a summer party for the Biographers’ Club last night, in her garden at Kensington Palace. She had flown in from Moscow for the event — Prince Michael, apart from being a dead-ringer for the last Tsar, has business interests there —  and she was clearly relishing entertaining fellow authors for a change. Her own book, The Serpent and the Moon,  is a study of the love affair of Henry II of France and Diane de Poitiers — a story of passion, intrigue and betrayal that makes the royal tittle-tattle so beloved by our modern British media pale in comparison. As the champagne and miniature fish-and-chips circulated among the guests, an extremely contented tubby black labrador and an arch-regal Siamese cat stole the limelight, posing contentedly for admiration, as the evening sun broke through earlier clouds. One would have no idea we were in London. No wonder so many film-makers come to Britain for atmosphere: no-one else can do bucolic quite like this!


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Time for a Debate on the Middle East

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 4th June, 2007

israel-flag.jpgpalestine-flag-1.jpgThe newly-formed Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine launches its website today (, in advance of Saturday’s Palestine March in London, marking 40 years of Israeli occupation of territory seized during the Six Day War. Significantly, the site — which includes a message from the organisation’s president, (Lord) David Steel, the former Liberal leader — displays both the Israeli and Palestinian flags, as well as the word ‘peace’ in both Arabic and Hebrew. While most of the content highlights the sufferings of the Palestinian people, LDFP calls for a just peaceful settlement which gives a fair deal to both sides, within a two-state solution.

The Liberal Democrats have tended to avoid debating the Israel/Palestine issue, because it can ignite such strong passions on both sides. Indeed, a fringe meeting on Palestine, organised by Liberal International British Group at last autumn’s party conference in Brighton, saw some pretty heated interventions. But the party cannot ignore what is probably the most pressing foreign policy issue in the world today. The situation on the ground in Palestine — not least in Gaza — is explosive, and Britain, in harmony with its EU partners, needs to encourage all sides in ths complex dispute to pull back from the brink.

I understand that Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel has drafted a motion for this year’s party conference, though I haven’t seen the text as yet. I hope it is selected, so we can have a full and liberal debate on the issues, that will air the problems but result in a clear statement of policy that defends Israel’s right to exist in security, but supports a viable, independent Palestinian state and an end to injustices and oppression by any and every player.

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