Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Cash’

The Conservative Party and Europe

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 7th December, 2011

Ben Patterson, former Tory MEP and EU Parliament official, this evening at Europe House, Westminster, launched his new book, The Conservative Party and Europe (John Harper Publishing, £20), which I will be reviewing elsewhere. The timing could not have been more perfect, nor the author more qualified to remind us all that it was the Conservatives (under Ted Heath) who took Britain into the EU, who under Lord Cockfield’s brilliant guidance helped fashion the Single Market (endorsed by Margaret Thatcher) and who may — yes indeed, may — help take us forward into the next stage of necessary European integration, despite the huffing and puffing of Bill Cash, Daniel Hannon et al. Ken Clarke, who wrote a foreword to Ben’s book, was with us at the launch in spirit, if not in body, as probably would have been Michael Heseltine. Tory Peers who did show their faces (and pinned their Euro-colours to the mast) were Lords (Leon) Brittan and (Richard) Inglewood, the latter giving a short address. Otherwise, the room was filled with numerous LibDems (several of whom had moved from the Conservatives or the SDP, because of their Europhilia). Chatting with Graham Bishop, John Stevens, Stephen Haseler and others, I was delighted to find support for my contention that far from making those in favour of Europe despondent, the current critical situation in the eurozone gives us the ideal opportunity to rally the force of Euro-realism. David Cameron needs to be able to show how many pro-Europeans there are in Britain, so he can be confident enough to tame his Euro-sceptic head-bangers. And Nick Clegg, whose Euro-credentials are impeccable, needs to have the courage to stand up and champion the message from the front. History will bless him if he does.


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Questions for Cash

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 29th May, 2009

Bill Cash‘Cash for Questions’  tarnished the reputation of the last Conservative government in Britain, but this morning, it is Questions for Cash that must be putting party leader David Cameron off his cornflakes, in the latest epsiode of the seemingly endless Daily Telegraph saga of expenses abuse in the House of Commons. According to the newspaper’s newest revelations, the Stafforshire MP and arch Euro-sceptic, Bill Cash, paid his daughter £15,000 in rent for a flat, as a supposed ‘second home’, despite owning one himself nearer Parliament. Mr Cash is a wealthy man in his own right, but this didn’t stop him apparently milking the system. He says he broke no rules, and I believe him; it is abundantly clear by now that the rules, put in place during Mrs Thatcher’s reign, are a licence to top up one’s salary and — as we have seen from the whole sorry soap opera, from Derek Conway onwards — to help one’s family out at the same time.

When such things happen in Africa — admittedly often on a much larger scale — we call this corruption and nepotism. I am not suggesting that this is what Mr Cash and his colleagues — on both sides of the House — have been knowingly involved in, but increasingly that is the impression that the British public is getting. It is indeed an urgent necessity, as Nick Clegg argued in the Guardian yesterday, for MPs to get their house in order, renouncing their long summer recess, if needs be, until things are sorted out through the introduction of sweeping reforms. It is not just the reputation of individual MPs that is at stake, but the very credibility of British democracy. Like a rotting carcass, the Westminster system has exploded, scattering its putrid entrails far and wide.

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Michael Connarty and European Scrutiny

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 18th September, 2008

Considering the precipice down which the Labour government is currently tumbling, Michael Connarty, MP for Linlithgow and Falkirk East, was remarkably chipper at the Association of European Journalists’ lunch at the European Parliament office in London today, but he was there in his role as Chairman of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee, rather than in his party political capacity. A convinced European — as well as a socialist who was against the Iraq War — Mr Connarty ruffled feathers earlier this year when he said that the Lisbon Treaty was basically the same as the European constitution that had been rejected by French and Dutch voters. Euro-sceptics, like his sparring partner (and fellow jazz aficianado) the Tory MP Bill Cash, agreed, but in Connarty’s case, it was a sort of compliment, as he believed — and still believes — that Europe needs the Lisbon Treaty, in order to be more efficient and more democratic.

Indeed, much of what he said today chimed in with Liberal Democrat policy. He was in favour of Britain joining the euro and speculated that the crisis over HBOS might have been averted within the sort of disciplined structure inherent in the eurozone. Moreover, he regrets the UK’s holding back from joining the Schengen area. ‘As you can see, I am not a Euro-sceptic,’ he said, ‘but rather a government sceptic — whichever government is in power!’

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