Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Lambeth’

Bollocks to Brexit!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 9th October, 2018

Bollocks to BrexitThe founder of Pimlico Plumbers, Charlie Mullins, is to be congratulated for not submitting to pressure from (Labour) Lambeth Council to remove the giant sign over his company HQ saying Bollocks to Brexit! He has argued persuasively that Britain’s leaving the European Union — which it is scheduled to do on 29 March next year) will be bad for his customers and bad for his workforce, which has benefited from the Freedom of Movement that is part and parcel of the European Single Market. Rather than take down the sign he has instead invested in many more advertisements with the slogan posted near stations and other prominent places around London. After all, the Leave campaign was allowed during the EU Referendum campaign in 2016 to get away with driving a bus round with the lying slogan that the money the UK sends to the EU (itself a dodgy statistic) could be spent on the National Health Service instead. No surprise to learn now that that is not going to happen. In fact, Brexit is already costing this country hundred of million of pounds each week, and it hasn’t even occurred yet. And any increase in NHS funding (indeed needed) will probably have to come from higher taxation instead.

Brexit's Barking MadCharlie Mullins isn’t the author of the catchy Bollocks to Brexit! slogan, but it has gone viral, not only on social media, but also through sticky labels that have been appearing all over the place. On Sunday, I attended the Wooferendum march of Remainers and their dogs in Westminster, and many of the pooches were festooned with it as well. Over the coming weeks, in the run-up to a parliamentary vote on whatever Brexit deal is or is not agreed with Brussels, we can expect more campaigning activity, with a massive march in London on 20 October calling for a People’s Vote — i.e. a referendum on the deal, with an option to Remain — with support from people from every political party (except UKIP, probably) and none. Meanwhile, several local councils have been debating motions about whether to support a People’s Vote. I took part in a LibDem-led demonstration outside Camden’s temporary council offices last night, urging councillors to back such a motion, though sadly time ran out at the Full Council meeting before that part of the agenda was reached. I hope to attend a similar gathering outside Haringey Town Hall on Thursday. Both Camden and Haringey voted heavily Remain in 2016, yet the ruling Labour Party in both cases is divided on the issue. Conservative Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have received massive media attention, but the Labour Party is home to “Lexiteers” as well, not just on the right (such as Kate Hoey) but also the left, including among some supporters of Momentum. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was a Euro-sceptic for most of his 30-odd years in parliament, campaigned very quietly for Remain in 2016, but then called for Article 50 to be invoked immediately afterwards. He is still sitting on the fence over Brexit, though the Opposition Brexit spokesperson, Keir Starmer, did say clearly at the Labour conference in Liverpool that a People’s Vote should be on the table, including an option to Remain. He looked rather startled when this provoked a standing ovation, but it is not really surprising, as over 80% of Labour members reportedly support staying in the EU. Moreover, according to a poll-of-polls in the London Evening Standard last night, a large majority of the 150 recent opinion polls on the Brexit issue have shown a majority for Remain if a new referendum is held. In a democracy, it is a fundamental right for people to change their mind and maybe that is indeed happening as the complexity and cost of disentangling ourselves from the EU become clearer. So, yes, let’s have a People’s Vote. And let Bollocks to Brexit be our proud Remainer chant!

Advertisements

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

Speaking to the Ibero-American Community

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 20th May, 2014

On a couple of occasions, I’ve spoken to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities in London — in Lambeth and Newham, to be precise — as part of the Liberal Democrats’ European Election campaign. Here’s what the Ibero-American community website MINKA NEWS had to say about it:

Liberal Democrats’ Jonathan Fryer: For the recognition of the entire Iberian American community and the Amigo Month

Minka News 1As a Liberal Democrat candidate for the European Parliament for London I recognise the great contribution that the Iberian-American community has made to both the economy and the social life of our capital, which has become not just the premier city of Europe but truly a global metropolis. The European Union officially celebrates our continent’s ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity and we can see the glorious richness of that diversity in the streets of London. Spanish and Portuguese — both of which I speak reasonably well, though not perfectly — are of course among the official languages of the European Union, but I feel they have not yet been given sufficient attention in Britain, whether in terms of language teaching in our schools or in the provision of services to the Iberian-American community.

Latino LondonThe current European elections are to my mind the most important ones since direct elections to the European Parliament began in 1979. UKIP and some elements of the Conservative-leaning Press have demonised immigrants — and in particular, EU migrant workers from central and eastern Europe — echoing some of the deplorable xenophobic rhetoric we encounter in some other EU member states. Liberal Democrats categorically reject this scapegoating of immigrants; we enthusiastically acknowledge the positive contribution that immigrants have made to economic growth in London and the wider UK, and we resolutely defend the principle of labour mobility for citizens of the EU as an inalienable part of the European Single Market. Moreover, if I am elected to the European Parliament on 22 May, I shall work hard to promote EU-wide legislation to counter xenophobia and hate crimes, and to strengthen human rights so that everyone across the EU can live in dignity and security.

In past years I have backed calls for the regularisation of the situation of undocumented immigrants from outside the EU, which includes many people from the Americas and lusophone Africa. Individuals, families and communities can never be fully integrated into our diverse London society until they enjoy full rights and access to services.

Many of the specific questions I have been asked are about matters that are dealt with at a borough council, Great London Authority or British national parliament level, rather than being a European competence, but I happily pledge to work with my Liberal Democrat colleagues at those different levels of government to further the interests of the Ibero-American community. My personal opinion on specific points raised are as follows:

— yes, Portuguese should be an additional language option available for purchasing London Underground tickets, given the large number of residents and visitors from Portugal, Brazil, Angola and other lusophone countries;

— yes, it seems self-evident to me that ethnic monitoring forms should in future have a category for Ibero-Americans with which they can comfortably identify;

— I would be prepared to lobby the relevant authorities regarding the erection of statues, commemorative plaques and the like for truly worthy Iberian-Americans or British subjects with an Iberian-American connection, on a case-by-case basis;

— I hope that the Amigo month becomes an annual fixture in London’s cultural calendar and would be happy to help promote it and encourage cooperation between different cultural institutes and embassies from relevant countries, as well as seeing it recognised in our schools and other educational and cultural institutions;

— I would be delighted to take part in events during this year’s Amigo Month, as far as is possible given other constraints on my time or absence in Brussels or elsewhere;

— I am very enthusiastic about the idea of a latino corridor in Southwark and Lambeth and will be happy to work with my Liberal Democrat colleagues on those two borough councils, as well as on the GLA, to try to further the project.

Lastly, may I stress how important it is that everyone in London’s Ibero-American community who is registered to vote here does vote here on 22 May. We need to show the world that UKIP and the Euro-sceptic wing of the Conservative Party are not the true voice of London — and the clearest way of doing that is to vote for the one political party that has stood up forcefully against UKIP and has defended the worth and rights of EU migrants and immigrants from other parts of the world: the Liberal Democrats.

Jonathan Fryer

No. 2, Liberal-Democrat European List for London

(JONATHAN FRYER WAS SPEAKING IN FLUENT SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE TO HUNDREDS OF IBERIAN-AMERICAN LEADERS IN WEST NORWOOD LAST WEEK. ON SUNDAY, HE ALSO SPOKE TO HUNDREDS OF LATINOS IN A CHURCH IN CANNING TOWN)
 

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

Getting London’s Ibero-Americanos Mobilised

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 10th May, 2014

Minka NewsThe Spanish- and Portuguese-speakers in London claim to be the capital’s largest ethnic minority, self-estimating to be about 10 per cent of the population, and it’s not hard to believe when one sees the vibrancy of the Portuguese in Lambeth, the Spanish across the capital, the Latin American Hispanics in Elephant and Castle and the Brazilians just about everywhere, etc. Just how many hundreds of thousands they amount to altogether is hard to gauge, as on top of those who are fully integrated into the system there is an unknown quantity of others who arrived, as students, tourists or whatever, and never quite left. Some years ago I spoke at a huge rally organised by London Citizens in Trafalgar Square, arguing that the position of undocumented migrants from Latin America should be regularised, not least so that their children can grow up secure in our society. Anyway, today I saw the other end of the spectrum: predominantly young business people from the Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) and Latin American community — plus a good few from lusophone Africa — fizzing with entrepreneurship at a networking breakfast at a large and beautiful church complex in West Norwood, compered by my old friend from Minka News, Isaac Bigio. In the short speech I gave (in both languages) at the beginning of their proceedings (as a candidate in the current European elections), I stressed how important it is that all those who have European Union passports and who are registered to vote in London do so in order to help counter the populist xenophobia of UKIP and the more disreputable wing of the Conservative Party. I was fascinated over the breakfast to discover some of the new Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese publications just launched or about to appear in London. This is a phenomenally well-organised community on the way up and we can expect it to make its political voice increasingly heard.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Minka-News-Diario-Ibero-Americano-de-Londres/145650822194561

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

Matthew Oakeshott Keeps the Faith

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 14th July, 2013

Matthew OakeshottSince standing down as Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman in the House of Lords in 2011 after describing the Coalition Government’s Project Merlin as “pitiful”, Matthew Oakeshott has made full use of his political freedom. Journalists and broadcasters often turn to him for a meaty quote and he has starred on BBC1’s Question Time. Having worked closely with the late Roy Jenkins he is a keen European and he had early working experience in Kenya. Despite being an investment manager he is often identified as being on the left, or at least Social Democratic, wing of the Party. He also does his fair share of the rubber chicken circuit, though certainly that would be an unjust description of the splendid Dulwich and West Norwood LibDems’ garden party this afternoon, all of whose funds raised were dedicated to the Evelina Children’s Hospital Appeal. In his short speech, as guest of honour, Matthew urged activists present to Keep the Faith in next year’s combined European and London borough elections. Being in coalition with the Conservatives was never going to be easy, but it was the right thing to do and there have been several major Liberal Democrat wins — for example the raised tax threshold — which would never have happened if a purely Conservative government were in office. Matthew lives in Lambeth and there is of course close cooperation between LibDems in Southwark and Lambeth (which together form a GLA constituency). Moreover, it was clear from conversation with councillors present this afternoon that the current Labour administrations in both boroughs deserve criticism. Mainstream political parties in general have been haemorrhaging  members over the past few years, but with just 10 months to go till polling day it is vital LibDems get out on the doorstep and sell what we have been doing and what we have to offer.

Link: http://southwark-libdems.org.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Boris the Boricua

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 6th December, 2011

London Mayor Boris Johnson this evening had his fifth meeting with the capital’s Ibero-American community, i.e. the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking populace, who are thought to number about 700,000 in the city, and over one million in Britain as a whole. As a warm-up act, those of us (including several Ambassadors) who had gathered in one of the large meeting halls of Senate House, University of London, were entertained with an interesting power-point presentation which highlighted those areas where the community is strongest, including Southwark and Lambeth (mainly Hispanic Americans and Portuguese), Brent (Brazilians) and Tottenham (a bit of everything). Isaac Bigio, the indefatigible Peruvian journalist and Ibero-American community activist who has been one of the prime movers in getting this section of London’s diverse population politically motivated, gave an amusing stream-of-conscious style introduction to Boris, claiming that because the Mayor had been born in a Puerto Rican trust hospital in New York (true), his parents had called him Boris, as a nod to boricua (which is what PR natives call themselves). That got a big laugh and a round of applause, but Boris himself — who is not so much a Mayor as a performance — provided an alternative and rather moving explanation, which was that he was called Boris after a man who had known his parents when they were living in Mexico and who had stumped up the airfare to New York so the pregnant Charlotte Johnson (a painter whom I knew in Brussels, along with her husband Stanley) could give birth in the comparative safety of the United States. Boris — who is the spitting image of his father, even down to his voice and intonation — was his usual charming bafoon self, mixing overtly political points with wild gestures, sighs and outrageous exclamations. One of his more challenging over-the-top statements was that we Londoners are now ‘going through a neo-Victorian period of investment in our city,’ which offers great prospects for progress and infrastructure. If he uses that line much in the run-up to next May’s elections, I’m sure his opponents will be quick to point out that whereas the Victorian age was wonderful for capitalists and professionals, life for much of the urban poor was pretty dire.

Link: www.aibam.org

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

London’s Portuguese Gala

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 12th April, 2010

After speaking at an Hispanic church in Canning Town last evening, I was taken to meet several hundred members of London’s Portuguese community at a Gala Awards Ceremony and concert in the magnificent Great Hall of the Battersea Arts Centre. The Gala was organised by the Portuguese-language newspaper As Noticias, which serves Portuguese expats in Britain — 27,000 of whom live in the borough of Lambeth. One of the recipients of an award was the long-standing Liberal Democrat Lambeth Councillor Anthony Bottrall, who has worked closely with the community and is currently studying the language. Interestingly, the first-ever prospective Portguuese Councillor, Fernanda Correia, is a Liberal Democrat and is standing in Lambeth’s Stockwell ward. As Noticias’s Director General, Joao Noronha, and his colleagues had lined up some terrific musicians flown in specially from Lisbon for the event, which was being filmed and will appear online.

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

Ken, Julie, Shazia and a Tory Called Dave

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 30th January, 2010

There was a rowdy Question Time-style meeting (compered by DJ Stewart Who?) at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Lambeth last night, at which the main sport for some was clearly Bindel-baiting. Columnist and radical feminist political activist Julie Bindel has upset the transgender community with several of her comments about gender dysphoria and related topics, and about 40 Trans-people and friends held a good-humoured demonstration outside the venue (corraled safely by police, well away from the entrance) chanting slogans criticising the RVT’s decision to ‘give a platform to bigotry’. Inside the pub was much noisier at times, as a few persistent hecklers shouted at her every time she said (or they thought she said) something that offended them, some even drawing parallels between her and Nick Griffin of the BNP. One person threw a plastic name-badge and lanyard at her. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the out-gay Tory parliamentary candidate for Eltham, David Gold, and I therefore found ourselves having to speak up for freedom of speech, as well as defining our own varying lines on the LGBT issues that were being raised. Shazia Mirza, the Muslim comedian who, like Julie Bindel, has been receiving death threats, brought some welcome light relief with some well-judged satirical jokes. It was a shame, though, that the evening became rather dominated by the Bindel-bashing, as I would have liked to ask the personable David Gold what he is going to do to protest about his party leadership’s cuddling up to homophobes in Northern Ireland and the European Parliament. And also to explain the extraordinary boxed quote at the top of his website, from ‘a former Labour voter’, viz: “My purse was stolen in the supermarket. Immigration is out of control. We need a change.” That strikes me as pandering to xenophobia, even racism, which sits oddly with his commitment to LGBT rights.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Paddy Ashdown chez Chris Rennard

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 14th December, 2009

Few local party fundraisers attract three members of the House of Lords, even when one of them is the host, but (Lord) Chris and (Lady) Ann Rennard opened their house in Stockwell this evening for a soirée in honour of Vauxhall’s LibDem PPC, Caroline Pidgeon, GLAM, at which the star attraction was former Liberal Democrat leader (Lord) Paddy Ashdown (whose London base is in Kennington) — and at which the Party President, (Baroness) Ros Scott, was also present. Paddy was eloquent over the cocktail sausages about the three challenges he believes are facing Britain: financial, international and existential. Perhaps the last needs a little explaining, before people run for their Jean-Paul Sartre: in other words, the environmental threats to our planet. As world leaders haggle over climate change-related targets in Copenhagen, the Conservatives under David Cameron are trying to paint themselves green, but unconvincingly so, in Paddy’s opinion. He also, for what it is worth, thought Gordon Brown will go right through to May, rather than risking a March general election. Either way, there will be many thousands of leaflets for activists to deliver in Lambeth and beyond. 

Link: http://vauxhall-libdems.org.uk

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

London Region LibDem Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 14th November, 2009

City UniversityLondon Liberal Democras gathered at City University in Islington today for the last autumn regional conference before next year’s elections. Most pundits believe that the general and local polls will be held on the same day (first Thursday in May, 2010), which is something much of the rest of the country often has to cope with but is a distinct rarity in the capital. The prospect is viewed with mixed feelings, as was clear from contributions from several speakers at the conference, including councillors who may have to garner twice as many votes (on an increased turnout) this time round than they did last time, in order to to retain their seats. However, the mood was nonetheless upbeat. True, few shared Simon Hughes’s rosy forecast that the LibDems might almost double their number of London MPs — from eight to 15 — next year. But even the most theoretically vulnerable sitting MP — Susan Kramer in Richmond Park — was surprisingly confident because of positive feedback she’s been getting on the doorsteps. Ed Fordham (Hampstead and Kilburn) spoke on behalf of target seat candidates who are increasingly making their voices heard among the electorate. And both Ashley Lumsden (Lambeth) and John Macklin (Waltham Forest) were hopeful that there could be strong gains in several London borough councils as well. I am looking forward to being part of the regional support team for all this forthcming activity, having today been elected to be the next Chairman of London Region LibDems (taking office on 1 January), as well as working with colleagues to improve dramatically the party’s performance in London list elections.

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

Brian Paddick Back on the Lewisham Beat

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 19th October, 2009

Brian Paddick 1Only one in a hundred reported crimes in London actually gets solved, which means that those criminals who do get caught feel very hard done by. That was the gruesome message delivered by former senior Metropolitan police officer (and LibDem London Mayoral candidate) Brian Paddick at the Blackheath Supper Club this evening. He was very much on home territory, having been Chief Inspector in Lewisham for a while (though his name is usually more intimately associated with Lambeth). The solution to this lamentable record in getting more convictions, he said, was in building a new kind of trust between police and community, so that people in areas where the criminals are well known would actually feel confident enough in the police to share the necessary information. Interestingly, when he toured a problem estate with some black youths not so long ago and asked them what they thought the police should be doing, they replied, ‘More stop-and-search!’ But what they meant, of course, was stopping and searching armed thugs whose identity is well known within local communities, rather than the current practice of blanket stop-and-search based largely on ethnic profiling. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour seem to have found the answer to London’s policing dilemma. The question now is whether the LibDems, benefiting from Brian’s advice, can offer a viable alternative.

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