Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Hampstead and Kilburn’

Liberalism versus Islamism

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 15th March, 2015

imageimageWhen the International Office of the Liberal Democrats first mooted the idea of a fringe meeting at this weekend’s Spring conference in Liverpool on issues surrounding radical Islam some voices urged caution, fearful this could inflame tensions. But what is a Liberal party for, if not to stand up for the freedom of expression in a tolerant, diverse society? The recent bloody excesses of ISIS in Syria and Iraq — one of whose victims was the noble aid volunteer from my home town of Eccles, Alan Henning — have highlighted the need to tackle the scourge of Islamism head-on. This is absolutely not the same as criticising the religion Islam, whatever some critics might say. Islamism, the radical ideology that seeks to impose its own extreme interpretation if Islam on society is as far from the core values of Islam as the Spanish Inquisition was from the core values of Christianity. Indeed, as (Baroness) Kishwer Falkner — a secular Muslim LibDem peer of Pakistani origin — declared at the controversial fringe meeting last night, ISIS are essentially fascists, far more extreme than just extreme. Maajid Nawaz, the LibDem candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn at the forthcoming general election also spoke passionately of the need to defend the right of people to have any religion or none, or even to change religion if they wish — though apostasy is a capital offence in some conservative Islamic states. Such issues were reprised in a plenary debate at the conference this morning, when a very detailed motion on protecting freedom of expression was overwhelmingly passed. I spoke in that debate, highlighting the fact that journalism has become a much more dangerous occupation than when I first started as a teenage cub reporter for the Manchester Evening News in Vietnam. These days, journalists are often deliberately targetted, not just in the Middle East but in countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Russia. It is essential that we champion the principles of free expression enshrined in both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including in relation to the media. As the late US statesman Adlai Stevenson once said, a free press is the mother of our liberties — something we should bear in mind this Mothering Sunday.

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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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John Kampfner Launches CamdenJo

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 12th April, 2010

The young lawyer Jo Shaw was formally adopted as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Holborn and St Pancras in North London this evening at a packed event addressed by former New Statesman editor, John Kampfner. Mr Kampfner — who is now CEO of Index on Censorship — came out as a Liberal Democrat at a press conference with Nick Clegg recently, having finally given up all hope of New Labour abandoning its authoritarianism (though he had already voted LibDem in the 2005 general election, because of the Iraq War). His verdict on the Labour Party today was that it is ‘tribal, brutish and ideologically bankrupt’, which Jo Shaw said reminded of her of a particular Camden Labour councillor, who had better remain nameless. The LibDems have high hopes of taking outright control of Camden Council on 6 May (currently running it in an arrangement with the much smaller Conservative group), and although Hampstead & Kilburn is a top target seat for the party (with a notional Labour majority of only 474, based on redrawn constituency boundaries), a shock result in Holborn & St Pancras can’t be ruled out. As the 2005 general election candidate, Cllr Jill Fraser, reminded people, the swing that catapulted her into second place on that occasion was so large that the TV thought there must have been a computer error.

Link: www.shaw2win.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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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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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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Winning Hampstead and Kilburn

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 21st June, 2008

A general election may be almost two years away, but in target parliamentary seats, preparations are underway in earnest. In London nowhere is that more the case than in the new seat of Hampstead and Kilburn, which is made up of most of the current seat of Hampstead and Highgate — held by the Brownite Labour MP, Glenda Jackson — and a slice of Sarah Teather’s Brent East. In the new seat, there are notionally only 474 votes between Labour and the LibDems, but when one looks at the local election picture, it is much more stark for the government: 20 LibDem councillors, 9 Tories and a sole Labour one. This all means a fierce fight to come.

Today, the constituency LibDems held an ‘Away-day’ at the friendly and tasty food-wise William IV gastropub in Kensal Green (right opposite the cemetery where Oscar Wilde’s mother, the Irish nationalist Speranza, is buried), at which the briefings included a presentation by Mark Pack, who was Lynne Featherstone’s field commander in the successful campaign to win Horney and Wood Green in 2005. If Ed Fordham and his team fail to emulate that success in 2010 (or whenever), it won’t be through lack of trying. 

www.hampsteadandkilburn.org.uk  

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