Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Cherie Blair’

Peter Brookes: The Best of Times

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 21st August, 2011

There are many good reasons not to read the Times, Rupert Murdoch being the most obvious. But one of that newspaper’s best features for some years now has been the output of political cartoonist Peter Brookes. Like all the best of his breed, he is topical, irreverent and puts the boot in where it’s needed. Unlike some cartoonists, however, he draws charicatures that are clearly identifiable, no matter how far-fetched the distortion. I think particularly of his Nature Notes, which have, for example, featured Harriet Harman as a praying mantis, Nicolas Sarkozy as a cockerel on stilts and Hazel Blears as a snail. No-one of any political party or natonality is free from his humorous barbs. Fortunately, every so often his very best cartoons appear in beautifully reproduced full-colour collections such as the one I have been savouring this afternoon: The Best of Times… (JR Books, London, 2009; £15.99). Peter Brookes holds no-one sacred, be it the Pope, the Queen or Barack Obama. Moreover, his willingness to get right to the bone prompts outright guffaws, such as his drawing of a very smug Bill Clinton declaring: ‘Fellow Democrats, trust me! Would I ever leave a sour taste in you mouth?!’ Because the volume covers the final years of the last Labour government, both Tony Blair (over Iraq) and Gordon Brown (portrayed naked on a sofa, in a pastiche of Lucian Freud’s ‘Benefit Supervisor Sleeping’) get it in the neck. I particularly love the image of a manic Cherie Blair, with terrifying grin, typing her autobiography on an old-fashioned cash register. And there is an unfogettable image of John Prescott impaled by a croquet hoop on a croquet lawn while Peter Mandelson aims a ball straight between his legs. As Liberal Democrats were not yet in government, they don’t fgure very much in this collection, apart from poor old Ming Campbell drawn alongside a Thora Hird-style stair-lift and Nick Clegg as a bird called the Great Shag. But I am sure there will be lots for LibDems to groan and giggle over by the time the next collection of Peter Brookes’s work comes out.


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The LibDems’ 9 New Peers

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 28th May, 2010

The traditional British Dissolution Honours and new working peers’ list were announced today, with nine new peerages for the Liberal Democrats in toto, including three former MPs: Richard Allan, Matthew Taylor and Phil Willis.  The best-known name on the working peers’ list is Floella Benjamin, the Trinidadian-born author and TV presenter and Chancellor of the University of Exeter. She has been a star performer at recent LibDem conferences and events, as well as having a deep involvement with a number of charities, notably relating to children. She will be the LibDems’ frst black (as opposed to Asian) peer. Another ‘first’ is the Turkish-speaker Meral Ece, a former Islington councillor who is currently Chair of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats. The LibDems have been making great inroads into the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot communities in London and elsewhere recently, so her appointment will be particularly welcome there.

Sir Ken (now Lord) Macdonald was Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales from 2003 to 2006. He was an alumnus of my old college, St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and writes regularly for The Times. As a practising barrister, he works alongside Cherie Booth (aka Cherie  Blair) at Matrix, which hasn’t stopped him criticising Tony Blair’s ‘sycophancy towards power’. 

The other three new LibDem peers are all well-known in party circles. Mike German was leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and one-time Deputy First Minister of Wales, while John Shipley has been a party stalwart in the North East of England, as a Councillor in Newcastle upon Tyne. Kate Parminter, former Chief Executive of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, also used to be a Councillor, in Horsham in West Sussex, and is currently a member of the LibDems’ Federal Executive.

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Baha’i Seven on Trial

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 19th January, 2010

With all my political and media activities, I don’t always get to the Comments pages of my daily paper every day, but today I was glad to  pick up on Cherie Blair’s article on the Baha’i in Iran in a recent back issue of The Guardian. On 12 January the trial began of the so-called Baha’i Seven: seven prominent members of the Baha’i faith in Iran who have been accused of spying for Israel — a charge which, if validated could carry the death penalty. The case is, of course, monstruous, like so much in today’s Iran, where any sort of dissent or difference is likely to invite harsh retribution. The Baha’i faith began in Iran in the nineteenth century, but has been systematically persecuted since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 because of its eclectic nature, recognising that of God in prophets of all sorts of different religions. It is an essentially pacific religion, universal and based on human values of love and understanding. The Israel connection is largely because the most spectacular Baha’i religious site is in Haifa: a hillside garden arranged in tiers. It is important that the world keeps its eyes on the trial of the seven Baha’i leaders and deplores the maltreatment of Baha’i followers. The Iranian constitution permits freedom of religion, but alas the reality is quite different.

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