Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘European Parliament London Office’

Germany, Multiculturalism and the Liberals

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 8th July, 2009

Georg BoomgaardenThe German Liberals (FDP) are highly likely to form part of the next German government, according to the German Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. Speaking at an Association of European Journalists (AEJ) lunch at the London offices of the European Parliament, H.E. Georg Boomgaarden said that although it is always possible that the ‘grand coalition’ of Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SDP) might continue after September’s federal elections, a more likely scenario would be a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition government, or even the so-called Jamaica coalition that has been mooted: i.e. CDU/CSU, FDP and the Greens (whose party colours are black, yellow and green, like the Jamaican flag). The Liberals traditionally were the junior party in German coalitions but have been in opposition in recent years. But they did extremely well in last month’s European elections. Being a diplomat, however, Dr Boomgaarden cautioned that opinion polls are often volatile in the run-up to a Germa election, so anything is technically possible.

On another matter, in the light of the appalling recent murder of a pregnant Egyptian woman by a racist German attacker in a courtroom in Dresden — an assault in which her husband was also wounded — I asked which model of multiculturalism Germany had adopted, if any. The Ambassador replied that Germany had lied to itself about what used to be referred to as Turkish guest workers (gastarbeiter), assuming that once they had finished their working lives they would return home, whereas many of them did not. The main problem for integration, he said, is related to the fact that most of the Turkish immigrants came from eastern Anatolia — many of them Kurds — and they have a more traditional and Asian lifestyle. This is exacerbated by the fact that Turks immigrants even of the second and third generation tend to marry girls from their home country, who then find themselves in an alien environment in Germany. However, an Islamic Conference has been functioning in Germany for some time and recently it brought out a paper stressing that Muslims should stand by the German constitution, while at the same time freedom of religion must be repected.

Link: www.aej-uk.org

Advertisements

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

Shami Chakrabarti and Toffs in Wigs

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 18th June, 2009

Shami Chakrabati‘Unelected toffs in wigs, be they in the Courts or in the House of Lords, have been the defenders of civil liberties in many cases, during the current government,’ according to the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, who was the guest speaker at a lunch given today by the UK Section of the Association of European Journalists at the London office of the European Parliament. Because of the so-called War on Terror,  disturbing new powers have been granted to both the government and the police. For example, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act relating to stop and search requires no necessary grounds for suspicion at all. Tony Blair famously said that he would give the police whatever powers they needed. Shami opined that an ‘authoritarain arms race’ began in Britain when Michael Howard and Tony Blair became responsible for the Home Affairs brief in their respective parties — well before 9/11.

Liberty ID card bookletLiberty is currently celebrating 75 years of existence, having previously been known as the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL), in which, interestingly, several now prominent New Labour figures were previously involved. It’s always a spectacle to see them squirm when they try to defend the proposed introduction of ID cards in Britain, about which Liberty has been running a campaign. Shami Chakrabarti — who was a barister before working for six years for the Home Office — has no such ambitions to be sucked into politics with all its compromises. ‘I’d sooner be a rock-star before I’d be Home Secretary,’ she declared. She paid tribute to the work that Liberal Democrats have done in defending human rights (though she opposes the European arrest warrant, which the party has championed) and she sharply criticised Conservative plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, suspecting that their main objection to this important buttress to civil liberties is its essentially European origin.

Link: http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk and http://www.aej-uk.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Credit Crunch and Europe

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 11th November, 2008

New Year’s Day 2009 will see the tenth anniversary of the eurozone and it might be an appropriate moment for Britain to reopen the debate on adopting the euro, according to the distinguished economist Graham Bishop, who was the guest speaker at a lunch event put on by the London Europe Society in the London offices of the European Parliament today. Graham painted a pretty damning picture of the way Gordon ‘the prudent’ Brown has handled the economy along with his Chancellor Alistair Darling, the criticism made all the more stinging because of Graham’s gentle manner of exposition.

Quoting extensively from economic reports and forecasts produced by the European Commission, Graham showed how much worse Britain has been doing than the eurozone. The current account deficit is particularly worrying. Meanwhile, the pound has collapsed by nearly 25 per cent against the US dollar, making sterling look far less mighty than the British government has often proclamied.

On a different but equally concerning matter, Graham said he believed that the new US President, Barack Obama, might refuse to abide by any agreement George W Bush comes to with allied nations over the putative G20 proposals for a new Bretton Woods.

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