Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 26th November, 2013
For the British United Indian Liberal Democrats (BUILD) Diwali is a movable feast, and the fact that tonight’s dinner in the excellent Seasoning north Indian restaurant in Fulham took place long after most other Diwali celebrations were over in no way dimmed the light of the occasion, organised by my indefatigable fellow London LibDem Euro-candidate Anuja Prashar. In fact the timing was perfect, in that the keynote speaker, Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander, recently went on his first ever visit to India to help promote British trade, and duly loved the place (his colleague Vince Cable, incidentally, is virtually an old India hand). The way some UKIP and Tory Eurosceptics spin things you’d think the UK would need to leave the EU to do trade promotion with India effectively, but the opposite is true. Danny is of course also a thoroughbred Europhile, having worked in the not too dim and distant past for the European Movement, which means that both LibDem members of the Coalition Government’s core quartet (the other being Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, of course) are completely on message when it comes to the Liberal Democrats being the party of IN so far as the EU is concerned. In his speech, Danny did a fine balancing act, on the one hand justifiably claiming LibDem credit for helping get Britain in a healthier economic shape than it was in 2010 as well as bringing in fairer policies such as raising the tax allowance to £10,000 (as it will be in April), and saying that for all their obvious policy disagreements he gets on with the Chancellor, George Osborne well. But on the other hand Danny came out strongly on differentiation from the Conservatives, not just on Europe — though that is increasingly self-evident — but on a range of issues, as the Conservative Party is being tugged to the right by many of its backbenchers and Labour is once more being cosy with left-wing trade unions. We are the party of the centre ground, Danny declared — though I personally prefer one of Charles Kennedy’s old sayings: that we are neither left nor right but centre forward. Danny usefully trailed the ALDE (European Liberal Democrats) Congress which will be taking place in Canary Wharf later this week (which I will be attending) and at which he will of course feature, along with other UK government stars and some heavyweight delegations from across our wonderful, diverse continent.
Photo of Danny Alexander, Jonathan Fryer, Anuja Prashar and Geoff Payne (by Merlene Emerson)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Anuja Prashar, BUILD, Conservatives, Danny Alexander, Diwali, Fulham, George Osborne, India, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, Seasoning, Vince Cable | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 1st November, 2012
Indians are London’s largest ethnic minority and immigrants of South Asian origin from the sub-Continent and East Africa have made a huge contribution to the British economy. This evening, the first fund-raisingl Diwali dinner put on by British United Indian Liberal Democrats (BUILD), at the Bombay Palace restaurant in Bayswater, highlighted the valuable charitable work that Indian philanthropists and NGOs do in the UK, in India and worldwide. Five separate organisations were showcased before the meal, ranging from the Loomba Foundation (which promotes the welfare and interests of widows in India and now round the globe) to a group that helps Indian elderly in this country, many of whom may live with their offspring but sometimes get left alone in houses with the central heating switched off when the breadwinners go out to work or simply feel lonely, so they relish the conviviality and both physical and metaphorical warmth in earmarked community centres. Both the pre-dinner brief presentations and the after dinner speeches were admirably compered by Mistress of Ceremonies Anuja Prashar, who has been a real driving force within BUILD. The star guest speaker was Miriam González Durántez (aka Miriam Clegg) who, as (Lord) Navnit Dholakia gallantly said, has become something of a secret weapon for the Liberal Democrats. She has both presence and authority and is truly a Liberal, as well as a fine European. She focused on the symbolic meaning of light and hope associated with Diwali. Simon Hughes MP was the after-after-dinner speaker, managing to arrive just in time for the post-speeches’ desert. He stressed how much London and Britain as a whole value the input by citizens of Indian origin and he made the interesting observation that whereas a few years ago Diwali was really only celebrated in India and among the Diaspora it has now become a firm fixture of the United Kingdom’s diverse celebratory calendar.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Anuja Prashar, Bombay Palace, BUILD, Diwali, Liberal Democrats, Loomba Foundation, Miriam Clegg, Miriam González Durántez, Navnit Dholakia, Simon Hughes | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 4th June, 2011
Up-market restaurants whett their pampered clients’ appetites with sorbets between courses. But Beckenham Liberal Democrats, at their fund-raising dinner in the Churchill Rooms of Bromley Parish Church this evening, employed an effective alternative: a different, very short, speech from three local members before every dish. Tom Papworth, Crystal Palace Councillor and now Leader of the LibDem Group on Bromley Council (which interestingly has a LibDem Mayor and Deputy Mayor this year) kicked off strongly with a defense of the current Coalition government, saying that whatever flak our Ministers are coming under, many LibDem policies are being implemented. Tom also dreamed of a time when there could be 30 LibDem Councillors on Bromley Council — and what a difference that would make. Indeed. Second in, between the consommé and the lamb, was David Crowe, former local councillor (most recently in Clock House) and stalwart of the Beckenham Liberals/LibDems since the 1960s. He took us down memory lane, reminding us of both the highs and the lows of the past 50 years, and ended with an impassioned plea for the LibDems to remember that they are a centre-left party, essentially progressive. In sweet contrast (before the baked peaches served with Greek yoghurt and Amaretti biscuit crumble), relatively new member and live-wire Anuja Prashar drew on her own background as an Asian woman who grew up in East Africa before settling in Britain with her business-oriented family to encourage us to think centre-right, or rather, not centre or right at all, but progressive capitalist — asking us to remember that it is the BRICs these days that are setting the pace globally and that we can learn a thing or two from them. The menu, incidentally, was put together brilliantly by Bromley’s perennial LibDem chief, Steve Daniell.
Photo: Anuja Prashar with local party bastions Cllr John Canvin and Reg Baskett (President)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Anuja Prashar, Beckenham, Beckenham Liberal Democras, Bromley Parish Church, Clock House, Crystal Palace, David Crowe, John Canvin, Reg Baskett, Steve Daniell, Tom Papworth | 1 Comment »