Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Community Politics’

London Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 22nd October, 2011

From 1979 onwards, Britain endured 31 years of centralising government, but since May 2010 a new doctrine has been in place, as yet little referenced by the political commentariat, bedazzled as they are by distractions such as the putative EU referendum. With Eric Pickles, no less, the Minister in charge, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government has espoused the philosophy of Localism: bringing decision-making down to an appropriately lower level (something the EU’s principle of subsidiarity also promotes). This was the key theme of today’s London Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference, held at the University of West London in Brentford. Former local councillor Andrew Dakers reminded those of us who were present of some of the ideology and analysis behind Gordon Lishman and Tony Greaves’s mantra for Community Politics a generation ago. And a session moderated by Terry Stacy, Leader of the Opposition on Islington Borough Council, provided us with some examples of best practice from places such as Sutton (Ruth Dombey) and Liverpool (Richard Kemp). Dr Mark Pack also added his weight and experience to the subject. Listening to speeches about both localism and the London Mayoral and Assembly elections brought to my mind Chairman Mao’s dictum about walking on two legs — in this case one local, one regional. Team London, the concept that London Liberal Democrats successfully launched last year and is now integral to regional activity, understands the wisdom of that two-legged strategy — and also manages to keep one eye firmly focussed on May 2012 and the other on the borough council elections in 2014.

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

Regenerating London’s Neighbourhoods

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 12th August, 2011

It has long been said that London is a city of many villages, but in recent years the ‘village feel’ about many areas has disappeared. This is partly because of insensitive redevelopment, but a more serious cause is the change in people’s lifestyles. Many Londoners today simply don’t know their neighbours, don’t patronize their local shops (apart from quick dashes to the nearest convenience store when the milk runs out) and they plan their social life city-wide. That’s all very well up to a point, but only up to a point. Neighbourhoods should be communities, diverse yet united and concerned with maintaining or improving the local quality of life. Of course, this concept was at the heart of ‘Community Politics’, launched by the old Liberal Party back in the 1970s. But it needs to be dusted down and re-invigorated, especially in our capital city. Paradoxically, the violence, destruction and looting of the past week has indirectly given a healthy impetus to the process of regeneration. People have come out of their little cocoons or dormitory-apartments and declared a stake in their neighbourhood. Political parties, faith groups and community organisations should seize the moment and regenerate the character and spirit of their neighbourhoods before people slip back into their isolation and their inertia.

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