Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Hammersmith and Fulham’

Cross-Party Campaigning against Brexit

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 26th January, 2018

European Movement Question TimeAn impressive line-up of London MEPs and other senior politicians gathered at the Irish Culture Centre in Hammersmith last night at an event organised by the Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea branch of the European Movement. Charles Tannock MEP (Conservative), Mary Honeyball MEP (Labour) and Jean Lambert MEP (Green) were joined by former LibDem MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, Sarah Olney (standing in for Catherine Bearder MEP, who was in Ireland), at a packed Question Time event moderated by former Labour MP and Europhile, Denis MacShane. Dr Tannock is one of a number of Conservative MEPs who disagree fundamentally with the British government’s policy of pursuing a so-called Hard Brexit, leaving both the European Single Market and the Customs Union. He would prefer Britain to stay within the EU but doesn’t believe Brexit can be stopped, so argues for a Soft Brexit instead. The other speakers were more focussed on how the UK can reverse the outcome of the 2016 EU Referendum; Sarah Olney set out the LibDems’ official line that there would need to be a new referendum when the details of the proposed new EU-UK deal are known, with an option to remain in the EU. Mary Honeyball expressed frustration at the Labour leadership for not campaigning hard enough for Remain in 2016, as well as for its current Hard Brexit stance. Jean Lambert said that whereas the Greens had reservations about some aspects of EU policy, she hoped the European Parliament could play its part in preventing a Hard Brexit. In theory, the Parliament could veto the deal, though that is probably not likely. There were far more questions from the audience than could possibly be addressed, but several people made the point that despite the large turnout — mainly middle-aged, middle-class and overwhelmingly white — the exercise was largely a matter of preaching to the converted. But everyone was urged to go out and campaign, on a cross-party basis and in particular to get the message out to younger people, including through social media. The Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Stephen Cowan, who was in the audience along with local MP Andy Slaughter, got a warm round of applause when he announced that his Council had declared itself pro-Remain — an initiative that some other London boroughs could perhaps be encouraged to follow.


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Stephen Williams at the Shed Café

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 5th December, 2011

Since the 2010 general election, Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, has experienced a new dimension to his political life: looking at economic and fincnacial issues not as a Minister in the Coalition government but as as a portfolio holder in the nearest thing the Liberal Democrats now have to the Conservatives’ 1922 Committee, at which backbenchers can debate issues. He’s been toying with schemes about how RBS and other banks that were rescued by the British taxpayer (or more corrrectly, by Government borrowing) could have some of their shares handed out to adult members of the public, probably defined as people who appear on the electoral register, though the whole thing would only really be feasible if the share prices concerned rose back up to or beyond what the Government actually paid at the time of the rescue. More information can be found on Stephen’s blog*, but this evening he sketehced out some of the details to a lively gathering of LibDems from Hammermsith and Fulham at the Shed Café, run by party activist Joseph Lee. Typically, this being Fulham, there were people present who work or had worked for the Bank of England, the FSA and various City institutions, so the questioning was quite rigorous. The discussion continued on the District Line heading East as Stephen, myself and a couple of others debated the value of independent bookshops (an issue close to both our heart) and the way that small specialist businesses are being squeezed out of high streets right across London, in sharp contrast to the situation in Paris, where I had wandered earlier in the day along the rue Sanite-Anne, marvelling not only at the travel bookshop (which I was looking for), but all the other small specialist businesses and outlets that make French shopping districts such a joy — with quite hefty protection from the laws, of course.


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An Evening of European Culture (and Cheese)

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 9th February, 2009

The entire National Liberal Club reverberated melodiously this evening, when the mezzo-soprano Henrietta Bewley (Chair of the Hammersmith and Fulham Liberal Democrats local party) gave a delightful performance of arias by Bizet, Verdi and Puccini as part of a cheese-and-wine fund-raising event for the London European election campaign. I had certainly never realised what brilliant acoustics the David Lloyd George Room provides, with all those flat surfaces and shiny tiles. The event was mistress-minded by Dinti Batstone, Number 3 on the London list for the Euro-elections, who had also assembled an impressive smorgasbord of items for auction, which raised several thousand pounds for the campaign coffers. Aficionados of the Antiques Road Show (and similar TV programmes) may be interested to learn that the suprise estimate-buster of the evening was tea with Paddy Ashdown in the House of Lords — which proved so popular, in fact, that it was sold twice! 

Simon Hughes, MP for Southwark and North Bermondsey, arrived on cue to give a rousing motivational political speech, reminding people that the LibDems only missed winning a second Euro-parliamentary seat in London in 2004 by 0.6 per cent (despite getting the highest-ever London vote for a single candidate or list). Given the number of council seats the party has won since then and the fact that the London LibDem MPs are now up to eight, there is every reason to believe ‘Yes, We Can Make It Two!’


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Ros Scott Woos Hammersmith

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 20th June, 2008

Nominations for the presidency of the Liberal Democrats aren’t due until the autumn, but already two likely contenders, Lembit Opik MP and Baroness (Ros) Scott, have been criss-crossing the country on the rubber chicken circuit. Not that many local parties offer such unpalatable fare at their social and fundraising functions these days. The BBQ put on by the Hammersmith and Fulham party last night was much more upmarket. Ros Scott was the guest of honour there and spoke about her work in the House of Lords, whose latest task had been to ratify the Lisbon Treaty ahead of the European Summit. Like many of her LibDem colleagues, Ros believes the Upper House ought to be elected, but given the system we are lumbered with, we have to go along with it until reforms take place. As reforms have been talked about since 1906, goodness knows when that might happen.

It will be interesting to see how the presidential contest goes, once the candidates are able formally to announce their status. Though Lembit has by far the higher public profile, that may not necessarily work in his favour, given the nature of some of his celebrity limelight. Certainly, within his own, largely non-conformist Montgomery constituency, there are those who think he would be better advised to spend more time and energy making sure he holds on to his parliamentary seat.

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