Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Ed Fordham’

St Nicholas Comes to West Hampstead

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 5th December, 2010

When I lived in Belgium as a young man, the Feast of St Nicholas (6 December) was always a much bigger deal than Christmas Day (25 December). Children received presents on 6 December and too much was eaten and drunk. There is actually an overlap between the two celebrations,  as the Greek St Nicholas or Nikolaos of Myra in what is now Turkey was a great gift-giver, famous for slipping money into people’s shoes and other such acts of charity. He is of course the most likely origin of Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, who in British and some related mythology rides across the night sky on Christmas Eve in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, before going down chimneys to deliver presents which will await the children of the household the following morning. There are also echos of the Three Kings bearing gifts to the infant Jesus, as recounted in the Bible, though in Western Christianity the feast of the Magi is celebrated on the day of Epiphany, 6 January — exactly one month after St Nicholas Day. As a child I was told Christmas cards must come down on 6 January, otherwise the house would be cursed for the rest of the year. Anyway, all this is brought to my mind by a St Nicholas Eve celebration hosted by Ed Fordham, Russell Eagling and Nick Russell on behalf of West Hampstead Liberal Democrats this evening, in their festively decorated flat, at which a full buffet was served including mince pies and Stilton cheese. It is good that such traditions persist and I for one would be happy to see St Nicholas get his due in this country. I was saddened on my way home along Oxford Street, however, to see that the ‘Christmas Lights’ are all of parcelled presents and rather camp umbrellas — highlighting the commercial side of Christmas and ignoring the religious significance of the period entirely. At least England hasn’t yet gone the way of the United States and started promoting ‘Happy Holidays!’ as the only politically correct greeting in public places.

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Camden: The LibDem Fight-Back

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 26th May, 2010

The recent general election was a bitter disappointment for the Liberal Democrats in the London borough of Camden. The party’s Ed Fordham didn’t seize the parliamentary seat of Hampstead & Kilburn as had been widely expected, let alone Jo Shaw in Holborn & St Pancras, which looked like an outside chance when opinion polls were suggesting a great ‘Clegg surge’. Moreover, far from taking outright control of Camden Council — which the party had run in coalition with the Conservatives since 2006 — the LibDems lost a significant number of seats in the local elections that took place on the same day. Higher turnout resulted in some of the local party’s most prominent figures being ousted from the Town Hall, though actually the LibDems’ overall share of the vote was much higher than one might think from the results delivered under the first-past-the-post electoral system. Three Council seats were not contested on 6 May, however, as one of the LibDem Councillors in Haverstock ward, Syed Hoque, who had earlier defected from Labour, died after nominations closed, so the election was postponed until yesterday. The result declared late last night was three magnificent LibDem holds for Jill Fraser, Matt Sanders and newcomer Rahel Bokth. This means that the LibDems now become the official opposition. Labour reportedly had over one hundred people helping yesterday to get their vote out, but the result showed that on a ‘normal’ local election turnout, the LibDems still can win in Camden and that their fightback in the borough is well and truly on.

Link: www.camdenlibdems.org.uk/haverstock

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474 to Win!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 19th April, 2010

About a hundred enthusiastic people from Camden and Brent gathered at the Hampstead synagogue in Dennington Park Road, West Hampstead, last night, formally to adopt Ed Fordham as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. These are heady days to be a LibDem, not least in a marginal seat such as Ed’s. There have been significant boundary changes since 2005, making Hampstead and Kilburn a far more attractive prospect; indeed, the mainstream media are agreed that Ed just has a notional Labour majority of 474 votes to overturn. Many local residents were surprised that the veteran actress Glenda Jackson decided to stand again as prospective MP for the area. And the fact that the new constituency takes in a big chunk of LibDem Sarah Teather’s old seat of Brent East is not likely to help Labour. Chirpy Tory Councillor Chris Philp is bravely maintaining he can win, but what is more likely is a squeeze on the Conservative vote. Besides, the Tory party’s recent statements on immigration and their ugly partnerships in the European Parliament are unappealing to an electorate, so many of whom have found sanctuary here in London from religious or political persecution in their places of origin. Navnit (Lord) Dholakia spoke movingly at Ed’s adoption meeting of his own 55 years in the Liberals/Liberal Democrats and the event was chaired by the neighbourhood peer, Sue, Baroness Garden of Frognal. Cleverly, the local association has capitalised on the 474 figure by asking people to donate £4.74 to the campaign (or £47.40, or £474 and so on, of course!).

Link: www.hampsteadandkilburn.org.uk

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Norman Lamb in Frognal

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 13th January, 2010

The Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Norman Lamb, MP, was guest of honour at this evening’s Hampstead Liberal Democrats’ New Year Party at the home of Andreas and Claudia Utermann in Frognal. The man who easily saw off a challenge from Tory blogger and parliamentary hopeful Iain Dale in North Norfolk at the last election had a sobering message about the levels of savings that will have to be made in the National Health Service if it is to avoid bankruptcy. Some of the fat that could painlessly go would be a proportion of the many thousands of people employed in health quangos of various kinds, he argued. Norman was introduced by Councillor Linda Chung who won Hampstead Town ward in a by-election in September 2008, shaking the local Conservatives to the core. And the new parliamentary seat of Hampstead and Kilburn is a top LibDem target in the forthcoming general election. Candidate Ed Fordham could not be at the social event this evening, as he is on a fact-finding mission to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. But he did send a video message to us all from a rooftop in the Old City of Jerusalem. How smart is that?

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London Region LibDem Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 14th November, 2009

City UniversityLondon Liberal Democras gathered at City University in Islington today for the last autumn regional conference before next year’s elections. Most pundits believe that the general and local polls will be held on the same day (first Thursday in May, 2010), which is something much of the rest of the country often has to cope with but is a distinct rarity in the capital. The prospect is viewed with mixed feelings, as was clear from contributions from several speakers at the conference, including councillors who may have to garner twice as many votes (on an increased turnout) this time round than they did last time, in order to to retain their seats. However, the mood was nonetheless upbeat. True, few shared Simon Hughes’s rosy forecast that the LibDems might almost double their number of London MPs — from eight to 15 — next year. But even the most theoretically vulnerable sitting MP — Susan Kramer in Richmond Park — was surprisingly confident because of positive feedback she’s been getting on the doorsteps. Ed Fordham (Hampstead and Kilburn) spoke on behalf of target seat candidates who are increasingly making their voices heard among the electorate. And both Ashley Lumsden (Lambeth) and John Macklin (Waltham Forest) were hopeful that there could be strong gains in several London borough councils as well. I am looking forward to being part of the regional support team for all this forthcming activity, having today been elected to be the next Chairman of London Region LibDems (taking office on 1 January), as well as working with colleagues to improve dramatically the party’s performance in London list elections.

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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: www.mertonlibdems.org.ukwww.camdenlibdems.org.uk and www.jonathanfryer4europe.com

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A Hustings in Hampstead and Kilburn

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 26th March, 2009

The general election is probably at least a year away, yet the Roslyn Hill Chapel in Hampstead held a four-party parliamentary hustings this evening which drew in over a hundred people. Perhaps it is not surprising that in these troubled times, people are in the mood to voice their fears, even their anger — and to put politicians on the spot. This febrile atmosphere could make the forthcoming European election campaign considerably more interesting than previous ones.

I had never seen Glenda Jackson in the flesh before (though of course I am of a vintage to have seen plenty of her flesh on celluloid) and it’s true that she is impressive as a performer. She was on a sticky wicket having to defend Gordon Brown and the Labour government, however. It’s not surprising that many Labour MPs with slender majorities (and indeed, some MEPs) are putting out feelers for other careers. Meanwhile, Ed Fordham, the LibDem prospective parliamentary candidate for the new constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn, is growing in confidence in his speeches and is starting to get a few laughs — always an important asset in getting an audience on one’s side. The Tory, local Councillor Chris Philp, comes across as being a bit wet behind the ears, but ambitious enough to move on to somewhere more worthwhile after the next election. The UKIP man, Magnus Nielsen, was good for a giggle — claiming at one point to be partly Conservative, partly Labour and partly Liberal Democrat — though like most UKIP wannabes, playing a single-track record of Euroscepticism.

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LibDems Seize Hampstead from Tories

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 25th September, 2008

Hampstead local campaigner Linda Chung has won the Hampstead Town by-election today, gaining the seat from the Conservatives. So much for the Cameron steamroller! She was a brilliant candidate and the Camden LibDems have a formidable election team. For those who don’t know (or have forgotten), they surged in the 2006 local elections to become the largest party on the Council, entering a joint administration with the Tories, and they have been winning by-elections since, one after another. This all bodes well for Ed Fordham, PPC for the new parliamentary seat of Hampstead and Kilburn. And the result will throw a well-deserved bucket of cold water over the Conservatives before their conference in Birmingham!

Full result: Linda Chung 1242, Conservative 1114, Labour 289, Green 140, BNP 29; LibDem gain from Conservatives

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Hampstead Liberals Arise!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 23rd August, 2008

The term ‘Hampstead Liberal’ has often been used by the conservative right as a term of abuse for left-leaning intellectuals who live in the north end of the London borough of Camden, including  many people who used to vote Labour before Tony Blair dragged the party towards Thatcherism. Hampstead Town ward is the natural habitat of this much-maligned species and indeed for quite a long period, the ward was represented by three Liberal or Liberal Democrat councillors. The last of these, Margaret Little, stood down in 2006 on health grounds.

On that occasion, Ed Fordham, Linda Chung and I were unable to prevent the local Conservative campaigner Mike Green succeeding in getting two colleagues in with him to represent the ward, even though we suspected that the said Mr Green would desert Hampstead in his quest for a Conservative parliamentary seat in Bournemouth before his term was up, as he has now indeed done. There is just over a month left to the resultant by-election, in which Linda Chung — a prominent ethnic Chinese local businesswoman —  will be flying the LibDem flag. Given the way David Cameron is letting slip some of his rightist tendencies, it is maybe time the good burghers of Hampstead reasserted their liberal credentials by returning Linda this time!

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Sarah un-Teathered

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 27th July, 2008

Sarah Teather was the guest of honour at the Holborn and St Pancras LibDem summer lunch today, in the home and garden of Camden councillor David Simmons and his wife, but she didn’t have to speak, which was probably a relief for both her and the guests who were lapping up the sun and the generous hospitality. It’s important that politicians have ‘time off’, even when they are at a political event, just to chat to people and enjoy themselves. Sarah Teather works her socks off as MP for Brent East — which is why she not only held her seat after the sensational 2003 by-election but actually increased her majority in 2005.

The neighbouring boroughs of Camden and Brent — alas not coupled as a GLA constiuency, otherwise the LibDems would be in a good position to win it — have seen a great swing to the Bird of Liberty in recent years. As has been well trumpeted, that makes the new seat of Hampstead and Kilburn very interesting for LibDem candidate Ed Fordham. The Tories see it as  three-way marginal, but after boundary changes, the figures make it a close fight between Labour and the LibDems. Moreover, given Labour’s unpopularity, Frank ‘Father Christmas’ Dobson’s Holborn and St Pancras is also highly winnable — which is why the young barrister candidate Jo Shaw is working her socks off, a la Teather, too.

Link: www.holbornandstpancras.org.uk

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