Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for September 8th, 2015

City & London East LibDems Ready for GLA 2016

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 8th September, 2015

imageOf all the mega-constituencies in London’s city-wide elections City and London East has long been the Cindarella as far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned. Though once strong in the borough of Tower Hamlets the Party currently has no Councillors there or in Newham or in Barking & Dagenham. The “City” part is the Corporation of London, whose Common Councillors are usually devoid of party political affiliation. However, that situation may be about to change, as, in common with many other parts of Britain, the east of London has seen a large influx of new members, many of them young and keen. For many of them, 2016 offers the first chance of direct political engagement as LibDems, in the London Assembly and Mayoral elections next way and, probably, the EU in/out referendum in the Autumn. This evening, in Bow Church, a hustings was held to choose the candidate for the GLA constituency; both women who put themselves forward were Damian to many, as Elaine Bagshaw fought Poplar & Limehous in May’s general election while Teena Lashmore fought neighbouring Bethnal Green & Bow. Elaine was also the LibDem candidate in the rerun of the Tower Hamlets mayoral election earlier this summer. Both candidates highlighted the issue of housing it homes, and each had her own salient qualities. Elaine stressed her campaigning experience on the doorstep and online, while Teena argued that being a visible ethnic minority woman made her look like the face if the electorate in a East a London today. In the event, it was Elaine who just won through — by one vote! Warm congratulations to her and also to Teena for putting up a spirited fight. Teena is also standing for the LibDems’ GLA top-up list, for which online voting is currently underway.

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A Drone Too Far?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 8th September, 2015

drone attackdrones ObamaIt was recently revealed that the RAF used an unmanned drone to kill two British ISIS fighters based in Raqqa in Syria last month. Now Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has declared that the Government would not hesitate to repeat the action. I loathe ISIS and its perverted ideology as much as anyone, but British use of drones for targeted killings in a country with which we are not even officially at war leaves me deeply uneasy. It is noteworthy that Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General and one of the relatively good guys within the parliamentary Conservative Party, has warned that such drone strikes could be challenged on human rights grounds. Already Amnesty International’s Director Kate Allen has issued a statement saying, “it is extremely alarming that the UK has apparently been conducting summary executions from the air. In following the United States down a lawless road of remote-controlled summary killings from the sky the RAF has crossed a line.” I agree. I have been deeply concerned by the way that President Obama has increasingly relied on drones to carry out military operations (so much for his Nobel Peace Prize) and am dismayed that Britain is now following suit. If it is legitimate for Western countries to use such methods then how can one criticise others from doing the same? As Kate Allen says, “if we allow this to become the norm, we could have countries all over the world conducting aerial execution of perceived enemies on the basis of secret, unchallengeable evidence.” Drones have many legitimate civilian uses, as well as a role to play in military surveillance. But as unmanned killers from the sky that can be targeted precisely at whoever some power wishes to annihilate they are for me a step too far.

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