Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for October 28th, 2008

David Miliband Ducks the Issue

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 28th October, 2008

The Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, has been visiting London, which made yesterday’s US helicopter assault on an alleged senior al-Qaida operative inside Syria unfortunately timed for Britain’s and Europe’s efforts to bring Syria in from the diplomatic cold. Mr al-Muallem and his British counterpart, David Miliband, were due to hold a joint press conference following their talks, but this was cancelled, as our Foreign Secretary repotedly did not wish to answer questions about the US attack. I bet he didn’t.

Meanwhile, the Syrians —  who say the fatalities were all local civilians — are screaming justifiably but impotently and both Iran and Russia have joined in the condemnation of what Mr al-Muallem described as Washington’s ‘cowboy politics’. The British government is keeping schtum. That is inevitably being interpreted across the Middle East as tacit approval for what the Americans have done.

One would have thought that during the twilight weeks of the Bush presisidency, the Bush Doctrine would have been quietly laid to rest. But not a bit of it. Pre-emptive strikes and raids into sovereign territory — recently in Pakistan too — continue, with apparently not a care about ‘collateral damage’. The families of the deceased are naturally grieving. But the wider Islamic world is angry. And David Miliband’s silence looks miserably like complicity.

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The Season of Mellow Fruitfulness and AGMs

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 28th October, 2008

The temperature has plunged, the days have suddenly got shorter. Autumn has arrived. For us political activists that means the season of local party AGMs. For the next few weeks around London there is at least one every weekday evening and even some on Saturdays. Officers are duly elected, financial reports noted and a visiting speaker brought in to enthuse the political footsoldiers. Last evening, I played that role at the first of several such engagements in my diary, on this occasion in Ealing. I made a point that I will be repeating elsewhere: namely, that we must learn from Mao Zedong (not a natural Liberal Democrat, but, hey, no-one is perfect) that we should ‘walk on two legs’. In other words, to maximise the effect of the Euro-campaign, we need to motivate activists with the twin aims of making that extra push in London to win the second seat we missed by a whisker in 2004, while at the same time making advances towards local goals — in Ealing’s case, boosting Jon Ball’s chances to win the redefined Westminster parliamentary seat of Ealing Central and Acton, and developing the ground in target wards for the 2010 London local elections.


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