Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Brent’

Boris the Boricua

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 6th December, 2011

London Mayor Boris Johnson this evening had his fifth meeting with the capital’s Ibero-American community, i.e. the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking populace, who are thought to number about 700,000 in the city, and over one million in Britain as a whole. As a warm-up act, those of us (including several Ambassadors) who had gathered in one of the large meeting halls of Senate House, University of London, were entertained with an interesting power-point presentation which highlighted those areas where the community is strongest, including Southwark and Lambeth (mainly Hispanic Americans and Portuguese), Brent (Brazilians) and Tottenham (a bit of everything). Isaac Bigio, the indefatigible Peruvian journalist and Ibero-American community activist who has been one of the prime movers in getting this section of London’s diverse population politically motivated, gave an amusing stream-of-conscious style introduction to Boris, claiming that because the Mayor had been born in a Puerto Rican trust hospital in New York (true), his parents had called him Boris, as a nod to boricua (which is what PR natives call themselves). That got a big laugh and a round of applause, but Boris himself — who is not so much a Mayor as a performance — provided an alternative and rather moving explanation, which was that he was called Boris after a man who had known his parents when they were living in Mexico and who had stumped up the airfare to New York so the pregnant Charlotte Johnson (a painter whom I knew in Brussels, along with her husband Stanley) could give birth in the comparative safety of the United States. Boris — who is the spitting image of his father, even down to his voice and intonation — was his usual charming bafoon self, mixing overtly political points with wild gestures, sighs and outrageous exclamations. One of his more challenging over-the-top statements was that we Londoners are now ‘going through a neo-Victorian period of investment in our city,’ which offers great prospects for progress and infrastructure. If he uses that line much in the run-up to next May’s elections, I’m sure his opponents will be quick to point out that whereas the Victorian age was wonderful for capitalists and professionals, life for much of the urban poor was pretty dire.

Link: www.aibam.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

474 to Win!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 19th April, 2010

About a hundred enthusiastic people from Camden and Brent gathered at the Hampstead synagogue in Dennington Park Road, West Hampstead, last night, formally to adopt Ed Fordham as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. These are heady days to be a LibDem, not least in a marginal seat such as Ed’s. There have been significant boundary changes since 2005, making Hampstead and Kilburn a far more attractive prospect; indeed, the mainstream media are agreed that Ed just has a notional Labour majority of 474 votes to overturn. Many local residents were surprised that the veteran actress Glenda Jackson decided to stand again as prospective MP for the area. And the fact that the new constituency takes in a big chunk of LibDem Sarah Teather’s old seat of Brent East is not likely to help Labour. Chirpy Tory Councillor Chris Philp is bravely maintaining he can win, but what is more likely is a squeeze on the Conservative vote. Besides, the Tory party’s recent statements on immigration and their ugly partnerships in the European Parliament are unappealing to an electorate, so many of whom have found sanctuary here in London from religious or political persecution in their places of origin. Navnit (Lord) Dholakia spoke movingly at Ed’s adoption meeting of his own 55 years in the Liberals/Liberal Democrats and the event was chaired by the neighbourhood peer, Sue, Baroness Garden of Frognal. Cleverly, the local association has capitalised on the 474 figure by asking people to donate £4.74 to the campaign (or £47.40, or £474 and so on, of course!).

Link: www.hampsteadandkilburn.org.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

London’s European Election Results

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 9th June, 2009

London City HallNow that the dust has settled, one can take a rational view of the outcome of the European elections in London. The most striking thing for me is the way that Labour’s vote in the capital proved remarkably resilient, compared with the party’s performance in most of the rest of the country. Though they did lose one seat (almost inevitable with the reduction in the number of London seats from nine to eight), Labour retained a very strong second place. Moreover, they held on to a local council seat in a concurrent by-election in Prince’s ward, Lambeth, despite a swing there to the Liberal Democrats.

European flagsThe Conservatives proved once again that they are good at getting their vote out. They were obviously well organised, not only in strongholds such as Barnet and Bromley, but also in target boroughs such as Tower Hamlets. The Tories may not have much time for the European Union, but they certainly took these election seriously, treating them as a dry-run for the forthcoming general election and building up in areas in which they hope to make gains in the London local council elections next year.

In principle, the Liberal Democrats were doing the same. And indeed, this strategy worked well in held and target seats, which got plenty of literature and had concerted campaigns, including telephone knocking-up of postal voters and on polling day. The LibDems therefore performed strongly in the south-western ‘golden triangle’ of Richmond, Kingston and Sutton, excellently in Haringey, well in Camden, Lambeth (Streatham), Brent, Southwark, Islington etc, though apparently haemorrhaging some votes to the Greens. Up-and-coming boroughs like Waltham Forest did well in parts. But the black holes — mainly in the east and south east — fared poorly. An unavoidable challenge for the party in dealing with future London-wide PR election will be to build support and accurate data in boroughs such as Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Bexley. Interestingly, the BNP did best in those three boroughs, though overall the BNP vote was slightly down on its GLA percentage last year and the party came nowhere near winning a seat.

European parliament logoUKIP sank to fifth place, behind the Greens, though still hanging on to one MP. The Greens were justifiably pleased with their performance, though they still only got a little over 10 per cent, well below what some of the opinion polls were suggesting. London voters were spoilt for choice when it came to parties and independents to whom they could allocate a protest vote. Amongst the ragbag of little parties and independents, the one that stands out most is the Tamil independent, Jan Jananayagam, who garnered over 50,000 votes in a ballot-box extension of the Parliament Square demonstrations. It is interesting (though futile!) to speculate how the results might have been different in places with large Tamil communities, such as Sutton and Brent, had she not stood.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Linda Chung, Hampstead Town and Ethnic Diversity

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 31st August, 2008

 The council by-election campaign in Hampstead Town, Camden, is in full swing. Yesterday several of us were out making good use of the one day of real summer this month, manning a survey stall in the High Street, canvassing voters and delivering leaflets. The choice of candidate is often key to winning such contests and the LibDems are fortunate in this case in having Linda Chung to fly the flag, which she is doing with characteristic panache. She is a true live wire, who has lived in Hampstead for the past 30 years and founded Hampstead NW3, the local organisation for traders and busineses. Linda also has been one of the lead figures in the new Chinese Liberal Democrats group, which aims not just to bring together ethnic Chinese LibDems, but also to encourage more people within Britain’s Chinese community to get involved in the political process.

In recent years there has been a lot of (necessary) navel-gazing within the party about the low level of ethnic minority representation, especially in our cosmopolitan capital city. But it is gratifying that over the past year there have been several important local by-election wins with ethnic minority candidates, with origins as varied as Zimbabwe and Pakistan — and that a majority of them have been women. After my stint in Hampstead Town yesterday, I went to the thank-you party for the Forest ward by-election in Waltham Forest, to help celebrate Samina Safdar’s win there with an excellent lamb biryani. In London boroughs such as Waltham Forest, Camden, Brent and Haringey, our council groups increasingly reflect the diverse communities they represent, as they should. The next challenge is to make sure that local parties’ representatives to party conferences do as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »