Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for April 14th, 2014

The 2014 Diplomat of the Year Awards

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 14th April, 2014

Diplomat MagazineKhaled Al DuwaisanFor several years Diplomat Magazine in London has hosted an annual awards ceremony at which members of the diplomatic corps get to laud those of their number deemed worthy of special praise. This year, once more, the event was hosted by the Langham Hotel just opposite BBC Broadcasting House — an elegant establishment that claims to be Europe’s oldest hotel de luxe; it will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. They certainly looked after us all well tonight, along with other sponsors. Veteran broadcaster Martin Lewis was the Master of Ceremonies. The major Diplomat awards are given out regionally to the Ambassador or High Commissioner who has won admiration or affection. It was fitting that the first award went to the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Khaled Al Duwaisan from Kuwait, who is such a fixture of the diplomatic circuit. He has the reputation of getting to seven different events each evening — as well as hosting dinners at his Embassy several times a month — and really has won a place in the hearts of the political establishment in London, as well as his colleagues. He expressed a wish to retire some years ago, but the Emir has understandably wanted him to remain. Other heads of mission who were honoured tonight included the Ambassadors of Kazakhstan, Finland and El Salvador and the High Commissioners of Singapore and Antigua & Barbuda. I suppose to people not on the diplomatic circuit this must all sound like one long jolly. But as someone who has covered diplomatic and international affairs for over 40 years — as well as serving for a decade as Mauritania’s Honorary Consul in London — I know just how many diplomats work 12-14-hour days, and how they need to be on guard even at social events, as well as networking furiously.

Link: http://www.diplomatmagazine.com

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BBC Sunday Politics Euro-debate

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 14th April, 2014

Sunday Politics EU DebateYesterday afternoon BBC1 hosted a debate between lead candidates in the European elections: Syed Kamall MEP (Conservative), Richard Howitt MEP (Labour), Sarah Ludford MEP (LibDem) and Patrick O’Flynn (UKIP). It was rather odd of UKIP not to field an MEP, but given some of the extraordinary things some of them have come out with, perhaps wise. Andrew Neil moderated the debate with commendable fairness, asking equally penetrating and sometimes uncomfortable questions of each of the four. The tone was at times abrasive, with two or even three speakers shouting over each other, which may not have impressed some TV viewers who are less used to political rough and tumble. Syed Kamall had the difficult task of trying to put forward a coherent Tory policy on Britain’s membership, finally declaring that in any future IN/OUT referendum, he would vote to stay in, providing David Cameron had negotiated sufficient concessions from Brussels, though he couldn’t specify what those concessions might be. Richard Howitt was mild-mannered and in fact very close to the LibDem line on several things, only more sotto voce. Sarah Ludford had the advantage of arguing from a clear, united party position and got in some good points about the benefits of UK membership of the EU and of labour mobility. Patrick O’Flynn not surprisingly found himself being attacked by all the others, but having played the role of UKIP spin-doctor for some time he was no particularly fazed by that and one fears that some of his populist rhetoric will have struck a chord among viewers who are only too happy to view the EU as some giant foreign conspiracy. The Greens will be furious at having been excluded from the debate, and indeed from the opinion polls would appear to be on course to lose both their current MEPs. But opinion polls can be deceptive and I wonder really if any of the four speakers in yesterday’s debate actually converted anyone to their cause. More likely, they will have reinforced people’s exisiting positions.

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