Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘George Brown’

Paddy Ashdown Is Frightened

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 9th November, 2011

The London Liberal Democrats’ fundraising dinner at the National Liberal Club this evening of course featured Brian Paddick and Caroline Pidgeon (hot-foot from the Evening Standard’s 1000 most influential Londoners awards), who both spoke of the importance of next year’s London elections. But the keynote speaker was former party leader Paddy Ashdown — now apparently carving out a career for himself as the sane alternative to David Starkey as a TV presenter — who instead focussed on the state of the world. After a well-rehearsed joke about George Brown in Peru, Paddy gave us a pretty bleak overview of short-term prospects. He said he was ‘frightened, very frightened’ by the way that the stakes are being raised in the West’s standoff with Iran. If Israel launches a pre-emptive strike against supposed nuclear weapons installations in Iran, the situation could become very dangerous, he said. On this I felt he was being quite mild; I fear it would bring about Armageddon — for the Israelis. Intriguingly, Paddy was barracked, if not exactly heckled, by one member present about the LibDems’ failure to engage with the people protesting outside St Paul`s (Occupy LSX). Brian Paddick popped up and said he had been to speak to them, but whereas he sympathised with what they were protesting about (corporate greed and bankers’ mismanagement and overpayment), he could not detect a clear message from the protestors about any solution. Perhaps that is the job of the Liberal Democrats, though it will not be easy from within the Coalition government.


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It’s a Stick-up!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 3rd May, 2009

I have spent an inordinate amount of time this Bank Holiday weekend at various London Liberal Democrat offices, church halls and community centres, from Hornsey and Wood Green to Richmond and beyond, via Camden, Islington and goodness knows how many other London boroughs, moving around on trains and tubes and buses, as the massive operation got underway to ensure that every household will get LibDem literature for the European elections on 4 June — or several pieces, in some cases. Lacking major trade union support or noteworthy big business donations, the party relies heavily on small donations and voluntary help from members and supporters, but it is great to see everyone pulling together (while Labour, bizarrely, is pulling itself apart). All the target (UK parliamentary) constituencies are getting very smart, multi-coloured leaflets, to which addressed labels merely have to be stuck. But sticking labels on hundreds of thousands of leaflets, and bundling them properly, takes a daunting number of people-hours!

This evening, I’ll be addressing Streatham LibDems at a pasta and politics, on Europe, of course. London has so much to gain by being placed at the a heart of Europe, as Britain as a whole should be. Tony Blair said he’d do it, but he flunked it. Gordon Brown never had the real will to do it, and now he has his drawbridge up, in his own personal battlements, seemingly out of touch with what the electorate wants, let alone what Britain in Europe needs.


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Yes Darling, We Are Pissed off with You

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 30th August, 2008

 I suspect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, is already regretting the candour of his interview in today’s Weekend magazine of the Guardian. But as Vince Cable — who was able to get in a pertinent reaction in time for last night’s ‘Newsnight’, showing yet once again how on the ball he is — said, Darling is correct: Britain’s economy is in far worse a state than Gordon Brown and his many spinmeisters have been prepared to admit, and that is not surprising considering how important the financial sector is here.

The Chancellor is also spot on when he laments that the British public are pissed off with Labour — his words, not mine. Indeed, even if we may be nearly two years away from a general election, it seems hard to imagine a Labour recovery vigorous enough to save them from defeat then. They have only been in power for 11 years — as opposed to their Tory predecessors’ 18 — yet the government is looking tired to the point of exhaustion. In fact, both Brown and Darling both look like walking dead meat. Interestingly, they and Jack Straw are the only three people left from the original 1997 Cabinet. I wonder if Darling will still be there next week?

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