Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for November 17th, 2008

Nick Clegg’s Pole-dancing

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 17th November, 2008

The Liberal Democrat Friends of Poland had an enjoyable launch tonight at London’s City Hall, at which the star attraction was party leader, Nick Clegg, who got things off with a swing. The whole event was recorded by Polish TV and radio, as well as various representatives of Polish community organisations. LibDem Euro-candidates were out in force. Nick brushed aside an opening question from a London-based Polish language radio station about how long he thought Brian Paddick might survive on ‘I’m a Celebrity — Get Me out of Here!’ He had far more important things to talk about, including the tragedy that is the downgrading of foreign language-teaching in this country. Nick operates well before intimate audiences, where he can enter into a robust dialogue with questioners, agreeing eloquently when he does, but standing by his principles and beliefs when he doesn’t. As he said, he was himself ‘concocted’ from Dutch, Russian and other variegated stock (not to mention his Spanish wife), which probably only a welcoming environment such as Britain could have permitted. A little of an Obama touch there?

The event was chaired by the Mayor of Islington, Stefan Kasprzyk, an Islingtonian of Polish stock. Inevitably questions were asked about how other Poles (of whom there might be up to one million in this country) can be encouraged to enter into the political process. This is all the more relevant given the high level of immigration since Poland joined the EU in 2004, even though tens of thousands of them have since returned home. It took the ubiquitous Simon Hughes, now cruising gracefully through the last few weeks of his party presidency, to remind everyone that the first British politician with Polish connections was Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) — ‘The People’s Countess’ — who was elected on a Sinn Fein ticket in Dublin in 1918, while being held in prison for her nationalist activities, though she never took her seat as she refused to take the oath of alleigance to the King.

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