Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Dirk Hazell’

A New Deal for a New Europe?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 27th September, 2015

imageimageSpending a gloriously warm, sunny late summer afternoon indoors in a lecture theatre is maybe not everyone’s idea of fun, but those people who signed up for the New Europeans’ debate on A New Deal for a New Europe but didn’t come this afternoon really missed a treat. Three major political groups from the European Parliament — the Socialists (PES), the Liberals (ALDE) and the European People’s Party (EPP, from which David Cameron, alas, withdrew the Conservatives) — were represented by the current President of the EPP group in the parliament, former Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Sergei Stanishev, the President of the ALDE Party (and former group leader) Sir Graham Watson, and Dirk Hazelll, Chairman of the UK Chapter of the EPP. There was a remarkable degree of agreement between the three, perhaps partly because all believe fervently that Britain ought to stay in the EU, both for the sake of Britain and for the sake of the EU. Graham Watson feared that in the current mood in the UK the referendum vote (on some still unspecified date in 2016 or 2017) could go the wrong way. That is why the “remain” campaign needs to fight hard. Sergei Stanishev (who was en route to the Labour Party conference in Brighton) spoke of the need for a truly European response to the great challenges the Union currently faces, including the refugee and migrant “crisis”.

imageDespite being a former Chairman of London Conservatives, Dirk Hazell lambasted David Cameron for his failure of leadership and the folly of the ambivalent Tory attitude towards Europe. Graham interestingly stated he thought that Britain ought to be part of Schengen, which got some murmurs of support from the predominantly young audience, and he argued that maybe Britain should have joined the eurozone when it had the chance, under Tony Blair. The whole history of the subsequent 15 or so years might have been different. Of course, there is not much to be gained (except as an academic exercise) in considering might-have-beens, and in principle the meeting was about the way forward. The eurozone is emerging from its own crisis, though one could be forgiven for not knowing so from reading the British press, but there needs to radical reform of the EU as a whole to make it fit for purpose. The big question for the UK is whether David Cameron can frame positive rather than negative demands for reform, and bring other member states onside through negotiation, rather than scaring them away with impossible demands.

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K&C and the Rennard Formula

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 9th March, 2010

Lord (Chris) Rennard was the ideal guest speaker at tonight’s launch for Chelsea and Fulham Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate Dirk Hazell — who was Chairman of London’s Conservatives before seeing the light. For it was the Rennard formula of targeting, choosing the right candidate and then bombarding the said ward or constituency with literature which enabled the local party to make its first breakthrough last summer, electing Carol Caruana to the borough council as the first ever elected Liberal Democrat councillor, representing Colville ward. Of course it helped that Carol (who works at the party headquarters in Cowley Street) not only lives in the ward but had already established a reputation for herself as a local champion, not least fighting to save the character of the Portobello Road. But it was the Rennard formula — implemented by agent Robin Meltzer, who is now the prospective parliamentary candidate for Kensington, and aided and abetted from helpers from all over London — that clinched it, with a very healthy majority, to boot. Now the challenge will be to elect Carol’s two running mates, Tim Jones and Peter Kosta, so that there is a Liberal Democrat group on the Council — albeit a small one — that can propose motions and start to function as a potential opposition in the otherwise largely true-blue Royal Borough. I was pleased to be at the launch event this evening, not only as part of my job as Chair of London Region LibDems to keep in touch with what is happening round the capital, but also because I fought the then Chelsea parliamentary seat in 1983. I moved the party up into second place on that occasion and I look forward to Dirk Hazell’s making greater progress under the revised boundaries.

http://kensingtonandchelsealibdems.org.uk/

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First of the Euro-hustings

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 12th March, 2009

Last night I took part in what looks as if it will be a whole series of European election hustings meetings across London, in this instance hosted by the Politics Society of Queen Mary, University of London, just down the road from where I live. The Labour candidate had unfortunately to drop out because of illness, which meant that I was the one and only positive voice on the panel. The Conservative candidate, Warwick Lightfoot (a personable councillor from Kensington and Chelsea, who threw his hat unsuccessfully into the ring to be the Tories’ London mayoral candidate last year) and his UKIP counterpart vied with each other in their Euro-scepticism. I’d been wondering just how negative the Conservative European campaign was going to be and if Warwick’s contribution was anything to go by, the answer is: very!

Yesterday also saw William Hague, the Conservative Party’s shadow Foreign Secretary, in Brussels preparing the ground for the Tories’ exit from the European People’s Party (EPP), underlining their isolation from the European mainstream. Not that long ago, the Liberal Democrats welcomed into their ranks the former Chairman of the London Conservatives, Dirk Hazell, who was disgusted at the anti-European turn the Tories had taken. He followed in the footsteps of former Tory MEPs John Stevens and Bill Newton-Dunn (the latter safely re-elected to the European Parlaiment, but as a Liberal Democrat). It woud be surprising if there are not others to come.

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