Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Dinti Batstone’

The Commonwealth @ 60

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 9th March, 2009

kamalesh-sharma1   Today is Commonwealth Day, though people in Britain might be forgiven for not knowing, as it has received scant coverage in the national media, despite the fact that this is the organisation’s Diamond Jubilee or 60th anniversary. The Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, insisted in his Commonwealth Day message that this is a moment for looking forward, not back, and a time to integrate younger people more fully into global affairs. ‘At the international level, the Commonwealth can argue that young people should be both seen and heard at the global decision-making table, and that the planet itself should be preserved for their use,’ he said.  ‘At the national level, the views of young people must be heard and acted upon in every corner of public life, and the contributions of the young should be embraced. At the community level, we should continue to instil in young people a sense of shared responsibility.’

London is a microcosm of the Commonwealth, as citizens of all the organisation’s 53 member states live in the city, adding to London’s rich diversity. All resident Commonwealth citizens are entitled to vote in elections in Britain, though I wonder how many will do so in the European elections in June? My colleague Dinti Batstone has been doing sterling work in taking the Liberal Democrat message to London-based citizens of Britain’s 26 EU partners, but it is important that I and other candidates do the same for residents from the Commonwealth, encouaging them to realise why the European Union is important and how they can more fully feel part of it.


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An Evening of European Culture (and Cheese)

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 9th February, 2009

The entire National Liberal Club reverberated melodiously this evening, when the mezzo-soprano Henrietta Bewley (Chair of the Hammersmith and Fulham Liberal Democrats local party) gave a delightful performance of arias by Bizet, Verdi and Puccini as part of a cheese-and-wine fund-raising event for the London European election campaign. I had certainly never realised what brilliant acoustics the David Lloyd George Room provides, with all those flat surfaces and shiny tiles. The event was mistress-minded by Dinti Batstone, Number 3 on the London list for the Euro-elections, who had also assembled an impressive smorgasbord of items for auction, which raised several thousand pounds for the campaign coffers. Aficionados of the Antiques Road Show (and similar TV programmes) may be interested to learn that the suprise estimate-buster of the evening was tea with Paddy Ashdown in the House of Lords — which proved so popular, in fact, that it was sold twice! 

Simon Hughes, MP for Southwark and North Bermondsey, arrived on cue to give a rousing motivational political speech, reminding people that the LibDems only missed winning a second Euro-parliamentary seat in London in 2004 by 0.6 per cent (despite getting the highest-ever London vote for a single candidate or list). Given the number of council seats the party has won since then and the fact that the London LibDem MPs are now up to eight, there is every reason to believe ‘Yes, We Can Make It Two!’


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Europe Gets Centre-stage with London LibDems

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 15th November, 2008


The European elections may still be a little over six months away, but they were very much the main focus of attention at the Liberal Democrats’ London Regional conference in Camden today. In the morning there was a session at which both the sitting MEP Sarah Ludford and myself (as No. 2 on the LibDem list) made presentations, as did Victoria Marsom and Chris Leaman from the party’s campaign department. I focussed on policy issues for next year’s campaign, highlighting the environment, the economy and security/civil liberties. The core message was that the party can indeed win two seats for London next time — as, frankly, it should have done in 2004 — while at the same time, local parties can use the Euro-elections to help them realise their Westminster parliamentary and borough council ambitions.

In the afternoon, Chris Huhne MP made a speech on putting Europe across on the doorstep. The LibDems are a party campaigning for reform of the EU to make it work better, but starting from the premise that European cooperation is a good thing and that many of the major challenges of our age need to be tackled regionally, if not globally. Dinti Batstone (No. 3 on the London list) gave an excellent and motivating presentation on targeting EU voters in 2009 — in other words, citizens of other EU member states who are resident in London and therefore should be encouraged to vote here. Simon Hughes MP, the outgoing party president, underlined the importance of European and international issues and the party’s commitment to them.

At different times during the day, both Sarah Ludford and I were able to slip out to talk to the annual LGBT Conference organised by the University and College Union (UCU), conveniently being held just three tube-stops away. Sarah was able to report on the excellent work that she and some of her colleagues in the European Parliament have been doing, such as putting pressure on the Labour government not to deport LGBT asylum seekers to countries where they might be executed or suffer persecution; extending civil partnership recognition EU-wide; and ending the US ban on inward travel/immigration by people living with HIV/AIDS. My brief was to cover the role of the British Press on related issues. Whereas there has been a welcome shift in the approach of some tabloids (notably The Sun, following Sir Elton John’s and David Furnish’s civil partnership and Pater Tatchell’s confronting Robert Mugabe) there is still a lot of subcutaneous homophobia amongst journalists on newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the News of the World, which erupts to the surface from time to time.

Links: and

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London Pride

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 5th July, 2008

 The sun shone on London Pride today. My precautionary umbrella became no more than a theatrical prop. Four of the top five Liberal Democrat European candidates (Dinti Batstone, Chris Le Breton, John Pindar and myself) were on the march through London’s West End. Our colleague, (Baroness) Sarah Ludford MEP was understandably celebrating her mother’s 90th birthday instead, but she has been doing sterling work on LGBT issues on the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee. That was summarised in an excellent leaflet knocked up for the event by the party’s special interest group, DELGA, in which I also made a pledge that, in solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS, I shall refuse to set foot in the United States again until Washington lifts its iniquitous ban on people with HIV/AIDS traveling there.

Britain has made huge advances on LGBT rights since Roy Jenkins decriminalised adult, consensual male homosexuality in 1967. But there is still much progress to be made in several other EU member states, both at the governmental and popular level. And things are still dire in several of the EU’s near neighbours, including Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Turkey — all specifically highlighted by members of the large Amnesty International contingent on today’s London Pride parade.

Nick Clegg made what was reportedy an excellent speech at the concluding rally in Trafalgar Square. As I was helping to man the DELGA stall, right up against the National Gallery, at the time, I couldn’t actually hear it, so I look forward to the press release. It has to be said, though, that the loudest cheers were for my Tower Hamlets neighbour, the actor Sir Ian McKellen. Oh, and a bevvy of behived, transvestite Amy Winehouse look-alikes.

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