Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Gerald Batten’

South Hampstead High Girls Vote Yes to EU

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 25th January, 2013

David CoburnJF head and shouldersThis afternoon I took part in a very lively and civilised debate at South Hampstead High School against the Chairman of London UKIP, David Coburn (who was standing in for London’s UKIP MEP, Gerald Batten). The audience were girls from the sixth form (as I tend to still think of those senior years) and David and my 20 minute presentations were followed by some extremely vigorous questioning. David is a very affable chap who has had a distinctly international business career, so there was good-natured sparring from our respective positions, which were pretty much at the opposite ends of the European political spectrum. It was clear from many of the girls’ questions that they were already well-informed on political matters and that they were ready and willing to challenge what they heard. So it was especially gratifying that when there was a vote at the end of the afternoon on whether the girls would opt to stay in the EU or leave if there were a referendum tomorrow, only one voted to leave.


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Selling Europe at Kingston Grammar School

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 24th April, 2008

 This lunchtime, I was the guest speaker at the Politics Society at Kingston Grammar School (mercifully not stymied by the teachers’ strike). My brief was to put a pro-European case (something I am always happy to do), so I talked about the things that the EU has achieved over the past half century, what its potential is, and how it could be improved. Having done a number of school events around London over the past few years, I was expecting a more sceptical response, but the students were gratifyingly well informed, curious and constructive. Younger people in general, of course, are more receptive to the pan-European case, having realised not only the opportunities offered for study and work within a European single market of 500 million people, but also the fact that we live in a globalised world in which continental or sub-continental regions are going to be increasingly important.

I was interested to learn that a while back they had Gerald Batten, UKIP MEP for London, to speak to them. I met him a couple of years ago, when we both guests at some Euro-do, and he struck me as being perfectly pleasant but, as one might expect from UKIP, a bit off the wall on European realities. Apparently the Kingston students gave him quite a hard time. Gerald is of course standing for London Mayor, in the UKIP cause, which strikes me as being a hiding to nothing. But if I ran into him the street tomorrow, I would ask him: why are you as MEP running for Mayor of London? Do you think the European Parliament (for which the taxpayer is paying a lot of money for you to attend) is worthless, or do you think you will lose your European seat in 2009?


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