Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

The River and a Fox

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 25th June, 2007

baroness-hayman.jpgliam-fox.jpgThe Lord Speaker of the Upper House, Baroness Hayman, hosted a reception in the River Room in the Lord Chancellor’s apartments last night, alongside the Baroness D’Souza, for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WDF), which is celebrating 15 years in operation. This worthwhile cross-party body has been promoting democracy and good governance around the world, largely through partnerships handled by the major UK political parties. Swirling clouds over the River Thames could not dampen the enthusiasm of those present. I’ve done a number of missions for the WDF over the years, notably to Angola, Macedonia and Moldova, and in fact I will be off to Lithuania on Wednesday, for a brainstorming on the state of democracy in Belarus, before heading next month to Minsk itself, God willing. In international funding terms, the resources at WFD’s disposal are modest, but they are hoping to double the money and at least double their efforts in the near future, working in environments as challenging as Egypt and Sierra Leone.

I had to slip away early to attend a dinner at the Carlton Club, where the Political Circle was holding a debate on the Middle East. Although in principle the remit was wider, the discussions were inevitably dominated by the Israel-Palestine question, with Dr Liam Fox, MP, propounding the pro-Israeli line, and the Greek ‘High Life’ columnist, Taki Theodoracopulos (who many moons ago used to string for UPI from Palestinian refugee camps) defending the Arab cause. No vote was taken, and Michael Binyon of the Times (incidentally, my predecessor as President of the Diplomatic and Commonwealth Writers Association) moderated expertly. One thing that people could agree on is that a clear outcome of recent events is the rising influence of Iran in the region — with whatever consequences that might hold. Watch this space!



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