Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Alliance Party’

ALDE Congress in Madrid

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 10th November, 2018

DD89ADA8-523D-4525-8A5D-316420AD1B73For the latter half of this week I have been in Madrid for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Congress. Our hosts were Cuidadanos, the still relatively new kid on the block in Spanish politics, yet according to an opinion poll published today, they are level-pegging with the conservative Partido Popular (PP), on 22%. Only a fortnight ago, ALDE had to hold an emergency Council meeting in Brussels, to refuse membership to a Catalan party, PdeCAT, for reasons too complicated to go into here, but surprisingly there was no fallout from that at the Congress. This was mainly because the central focus of the Madrid gathering was the ALDE manifesto* for next May’s European elections, which was duly passed this lunchtime. But there was a plethora of other issues discussed over the three days of the Congress. I successfully moved, on behalf of the UK Liberal Democrats, an emergency motion on Saudi Arabia, which I will post on this blog on Monday, when I shall return to London and have access to a desktop computer.

9291698F-7F08-4996-8D94-E3006FA5A636There were fringe sessions on various aspects of campaigning, including social media, and it was good to have one panel that brought together not only MEPs from several EU member states but also senior executives from Facebook, Google and Microsoft. The UK Liberal Democrat Leader, Sir Vince Cable,  came over for the day yesterday, to reinforce the message that Brexit is not a “done deal” and that the LibDems are at the forefront of the campaign for a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal, with an option to remain. The resignation of Orpington MP Jo Johnson from his junior ministerial position over this very issue could not have been better timed. For the first time, the LibDems, Fianna Fáil from Ireland and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland worked as a coherent bloc in the Congress, which should be a good model to follow in future. Brexit, of course, hung like a big black cloud over the whole event, but at least we Brits left our continental colleagues in no doubt that we are doing everything we can to encourage the British people to stop it,

*The manifesto can be found on the ALDE website:

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From Hillsborough Castle to Stormont

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 17th May, 2008

One of the collateral benefits of Liberal International Congresses and Executives is the opportunity they provide to get to know new places round the world. Like most mainland Brits, I had never visited Northern Ireland, until I arrived in Belfast on Thursday morning. Being in Northern Ireland has certainly influenced the tone of some of the Congress debates, not least because the Congress hosts, David Ford of the Alliance Party, and his predecessor, (Lord) John Alderdice, have been so central to the process of negotation and reconciliation in the six counties.

The Congress is taking place in the Hotel Europa, which boasts the unusual distinction of being the most bombed hotel in the world (70 times), though mercifully such excitement is a thing of the past. On Thursday evening, there was a reception for the LI Executive at Hillsborough Castle, the Queen’s Northern Ireland residence, where the Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, greeted us. He is, of course, used to living in comfortable surroundings, being the wealthiest of the defectors who left the Conservatives for New Labour. Then last night, we were entertained at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly building built in the 1920s with all the pompous trimmings of a still imperial power. As John Alderdice was Speaker there at a crucial period in Northern Ireland’s development, he made the ideal tour guide.


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