Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Stephen Williams at the Shed Café

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 5th December, 2011

Since the 2010 general election, Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, has experienced a new dimension to his political life: looking at economic and fincnacial issues not as a Minister in the Coalition government but as as a portfolio holder in the nearest thing the Liberal Democrats now have to the Conservatives’ 1922 Committee, at which backbenchers can debate issues. He’s been toying with schemes about how RBS and other banks that were rescued by the British taxpayer (or more corrrectly, by Government borrowing) could have some of their shares handed out to adult members of the public, probably defined as people who appear on the electoral register, though the whole thing would only really be feasible if the share prices concerned rose back up to or beyond what the Government actually paid at the time of the rescue. More information can be found on Stephen’s blog*, but this evening he sketehced out some of the details to a lively gathering of LibDems from Hammermsith and Fulham at the Shed Café, run by party activist Joseph Lee. Typically, this being Fulham, there were people present who work or had worked for the Bank of England, the FSA and various City institutions, so the questioning was quite rigorous. The discussion continued on the District Line heading East as Stephen, myself and a couple of others debated the value of independent bookshops (an issue close to both our heart) and the way that small specialist businesses are being squeezed out of high streets right across London, in sharp contrast to the situation in Paris, where I had wandered earlier in the day along the rue Sanite-Anne, marvelling not only at the travel bookshop (which I was looking for), but all the other small specialist businesses and outlets that make French shopping districts such a joy — with quite hefty protection from the laws, of course.



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