Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Camden Council’

An Evening with Julian Fellowes

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 9th November, 2011

Since its foundation 18 years ago, the Friends of Heath Library has organised 150 literary events in the 1930s single storey building that houses the library, right next door to glorious Keats’ House in Hampstead. The very first speaker was the novelist Margaret Drabble, whereas this evening, after the Friends’ AGM, its 150th visitor was the writer, actor, producer and Conservative life peer, Julian Fellowes. Invited to talk ‘for a few minutes’ about himself, he gave a wonderfully discursive and joyfully prolonged presentation of his life and works, nicely balancing the grandeur of success with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. Although he has won most of his plaudits (including an Oscar) for his writing for cinema and television, he is clearly still a thespian at heart: marvellous timing and cadence and lots of good jokes. He is of course currently flavour of the month (maybe even of the year), having built on the great success of the film Gosford Park with the even more successful TV series, Downton Abbey, for which he chose Highclere as the setting. He had some lovely tales of working with Robert Altman on the former and with Maggie Smith in the latter. He is also a great supporter of public libraries, including on his own home patch in Dorset. The Heath Library is one that the philistine Labour Council in Camden is closing, but the Friends — together with the City of London Corporation, who own the freehold on the property — hope to be able to put a package together which will mean that a privately-run library (employing both professional staff and volunteers) will keep the library functioning; but the City, in particular, will foster literary and other artistic events, including maybe creatng a small, secure exhibition space, in which they could, for example, have on display rare letters from John Keats, which are too vakuable to show at the less easily protected Keat’s House.


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John Kampfner Launches CamdenJo

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 12th April, 2010

The young lawyer Jo Shaw was formally adopted as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Holborn and St Pancras in North London this evening at a packed event addressed by former New Statesman editor, John Kampfner. Mr Kampfner — who is now CEO of Index on Censorship — came out as a Liberal Democrat at a press conference with Nick Clegg recently, having finally given up all hope of New Labour abandoning its authoritarianism (though he had already voted LibDem in the 2005 general election, because of the Iraq War). His verdict on the Labour Party today was that it is ‘tribal, brutish and ideologically bankrupt’, which Jo Shaw said reminded of her of a particular Camden Labour councillor, who had better remain nameless. The LibDems have high hopes of taking outright control of Camden Council on 6 May (currently running it in an arrangement with the much smaller Conservative group), and although Hampstead & Kilburn is a top target seat for the party (with a notional Labour majority of only 474, based on redrawn constituency boundaries), a shock result in Holborn & St Pancras can’t be ruled out. As the 2005 general election candidate, Cllr Jill Fraser, reminded people, the swing that catapulted her into second place on that occasion was so large that the TV thought there must have been a computer error.


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Getting the Message across and the Money in

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 5th April, 2009

This evening, there was a highly successful and enjoyable fundraising buffet dinner at the home of Wimbledon Liberal Democrat PPC, Shas Sheehan, to ensure that Merton borough will be able to play its full part in the Euro-election campaign ahead — though as I said in my speech, the campaign is actually already upon us: two months tonight, on Sunday 7 June, we will know the result. It needs just a tiny swing to the LibDems to pick up a second seat in London this time and one by one, the local parties have been coming on board, buying into the centrally-prepared London Euro-literature and in many cases producing their own on top — often with considerable ingenuity and local relevance.

This morning, I was at a seminar addressed by the Party’s outgoing Director of Innovation, Mark Pack, in Swiss Cottage, for key activists in the Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary seat, on how to make the European elections work for them: in other words, not just getting me elected as the second MEP (with all that that implies), but also using the campaign to push key local messages, which will help get Ed Fordham elected as the new MP for the redrawn parlimentary constituency and enable the Liberal Democrats to strengthen their (already dominant) position on Camden Council.

Links: and

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