Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Luisa Porritt’

The London LibDem Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 13th October, 2019

London LibDems conference 2019Yesterday London Liberal Democrats packed the congregational church in Kentish Town for an autumn conference that was a mixture of celebration and determination. The celebration was largely because of the brilliant European election results in May, when the party topped the polls in London, sending three MEPs to Brussels.Moreover, the region’s membership at 24,000 is three times what it was a decade ago — and many new faces were at the conference. These included Luciana Berger MP, formerly Labour but who will be standing for the LibDems in Finchley and Golders Green when the election comes around. She gave a short speech recounting this political journey and was clearly pleased to have found a welcoming new home. Luisa Porritt, a Camden councillor who was elected an MEP in May and who is now Deputy Leader of the 16-strong LibDem group in the European Parliament, briefed the meeting on what she and her colleagues are doing to encourage continental counterparts to help keep Britain in the EU.

London LibDems conference 2019 1Deputy Leader Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton, highlighted the work that the parliamentary party is doing to stop Brexit and urged everyone to go on the People’s Vote march next Saturday — and to bring along family and friends. For me, one of the most striking parts of the conference, however, was the impressive line-up of women PPCs who are standing in what are now winnable seats in heavily Remain parts of the capital: Rabina Khan, Humaira Ali, Hina Bokhari, Munira Wilson and Sarah Olney. There was a time not that long ago when the party’s MPs were embarrassingly uniformly male and white but these days the LibDems reflect the make up of multi-cultural London much more and that should be clearer still after the general election. That is likely to be the next challenge on the electoral horizon, but the conference was also focussed on the London Assembly and Mayoral elections next May. Caroline Pidgeon spoke of her work on the GLA, notably regarding transport, and mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita gave an inspirational keynote speech outlining her main priorities, ranging from a preventive approach to knife rime to the decriminalisation of cannabis.

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EP2019: London Votes Remain!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 27th May, 2019

EP2019 declarationThough Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party won most seats in this week’s European elections, just as its predecessor UKIP did in 2014, the striking difference from five years ago was the huge surge in support for the Liberal Democrats and to a lesser extent the Greens. It’s not hard to explain why (though the Government will doubtless try to spin otherwise). Both the LibDems and the Greens had an unequivocally anti-Brexit message, as indeed did the SNP, which did especially well in Scotland. In contrast, the Conservatives, who have been endeavouring unsuccessfully to push Theresa May’s Brexit deal through Parliament crashed to their worst result since the 1830s. And Labour — whose leadership continues to sit on the fence over Brexit, trying to please both Brexiteers and Remainers, therefore satisfying neither — also had a very poor result. In London, Labour fell from four MEPs to just two, though interestingly both successful candidates were forthright Remainers and Seb Dance used his short victory speech to berate the leadership for not clearly backing staying in the EU and holding a new referendum. The LibDems topped the poll in London, with 27% of the vote, reaping three MEPs, all newcomers to the field: Irina von Wiese, Dinesh Dhamija and Luisa Porritt. As Number 4 on the list I was sad not to join them, but I have been in this situation before! What is more important is that with the exception of the two Brexit Party MEPs (who came third in the popular vote in the capital), London is now represented by a rainbow coalition of Remainers who will be fighting hard to Stop Brexit — the pithy slogan that served the LibDems so well!

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