Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Field’

Mark Field: Conduct Unbecoming

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 21st June, 2019

Mark Field Mansion HouseThe Chancellor of the Exchequer’s annual speech to the City of London at the Mansion House last night was interrupted by Climate Emergency protesters. But that demonstration was eclipsed by the extraordinary behaviour of the local MP — and Minister of State at the Foreign Office — Mark Field, who rose from his seat to grab a young woman protestor in a long red dress, slamming her against a pillar and then  frogmarching her out of the Egyptian Hall with his hand round her neck. Other guests at the black tie dinner sat rooted in their places as if they could not quite believe what was happening and when a clip of the incident was shown shortly afterwards on BBC’s Newsnight, presenter Kirsty Wark was visibly shaken. Little surprise, perhaps, that overnight there were calls for Mr Field to resign; this morning he has been suspended as a Minister, pending an inquiry.

What makes the affair all the more remarkable is that in his ministerial role, Mark Field has defended the right of demonstrators in Hong Kong and Myanmar and other places in his Asian ministerial bailiwick to protest peacefully and he has criticised the high-handed tactics of some countries’ security forces. Yet his own behaviour was shockingly aggressive against a woman who posed no physical threat to anyone. This comes at a time when violence and intimidation have become more common in the political arena in Britain. At times there have been ugly scenes outside the Houses of Parliament, when MPs have been jostled or threatened and rhetoric has got ever more extreme in the wake of the 2016 EU Referendum. Last Sunday marked the third anniversary of he assassination of Jo Cox MP, who had worked so hard to bring harmony where there was discord. It is essential that this trend towards intolerance and aggression is reversed if Britain’s democracy is to avoid being permanently tainted. And that means no conduct unbecoming by MPs as well.

Advertisements

Posted in UK politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Why the City Needs EU Membership

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 18th July, 2013

Excellent piece on why London’s financial centre needs to be part of the European common market, by my friend Mark Field, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster. I wish more of his Tory colleagues thought the same way!

The City is one of Britain’s most valuable assets and central to its success is its ability to be part of the EU’s common market. The coalition government’s EU policy must be based on those two fundamental principles.

Mark FieldHistorically there have tended to be two potential models for a successful financial centre. The first, an onshore version, is based around the notion of a hub city servicing a sizeable domestic market – think New York and the US market. The alternative approach, offshore, depends upon attracting business primarily via competitive tax rates, regulatory arbitrage and other distinct selling points such as a respected system of law, privacy and a skilled workforce – the most obvious example here being the Swiss niche in secret bank accounts. Until 2008’s financial crisis, the City of London had pragmatically been enjoying elements of both models and benefited handsomely. Prominent first as the epicentre of the British Empire, servicing the UK’s great global trading market, since the 1980s the City had taken on the role of offshore-onshore financial centre to the European continent – more recently still as a member of the European Union outside the Eurozone. As a pan-European capital market, the City flourished and alongside that role was able to take advantage of a light-touch regulatory approach advocated by Britain and applied across the EU that attracted huge volumes of foreign money. But the arrival of the financial crisis fundamentally changed the rules of this game. Almost overnight since 2008 the EU has demanded greater oversight of its financial infrastructure. Awkward questions have been raised about the ability of London and UK financial services regulators to prevent the system silting up; whether it is sustainable (or desirable) for Euro-denominated risk to be cleared offshore in the British capital. In turn, the City has expressed firm concerns about the way the new and numerous EU laws can fundamentally damage its global competitiveness.

The invoking of a British ‘veto’ at the December 2011 EU summit was billed as an aggressive demonstration of the UK’s intention to retain its offshore/onshore model, protecting the City as its vital interest. To much of the EU it was perceived as an unrealistic and petulant attempt to maintain an unsustainable status quo. The UK’s demands for safeguards would have given the UK an effective veto over European financial regulation, a request that was never going to be acceded to. In reality, that veto was less about the future of the City and more a political gesture to a domestic audience aimed at keeping Eurosceptic wolves from the door. The backdrop to that summit, it is important to recall, was the unexpectedly large ‘rebellion’ in support of an EU referendum. It was perhaps naïve ever to suppose that this would close off debate on the issue. Instead the Prime Minister’s superficially popular move delighted the media and hardened Eurosceptics’ resolve to extract further concessions. Since then, of course, matters have moved on apace. The EU, under the leadership of European Internal Market Commissioner, Michel Barnier, has set up a single bank supervisor and is moving ahead with putting in place the foundations of a banking union. Meanwhile the coalition government saw further rebellion on the UK’s relationship with the Union, that time over its budget, and the Prime Minister has crafted a clear path towards renegotiating the UK’s relationship with the EU, returning powers and holding a referendum.

City of LondonThe uncomfortable truth facing the Prime Minister is that there is no third way in the UK’s relationship with Europe. His understandable instinct is to play for time, trying to address Eurosceptic passions with aggressive talk about repatriating powers from and renegotiating our relationship with the EU, while smoothing relations with European partners behind closed doors. To some extent, this is a challenge faced by all European leaders, whose electorates are increasingly restless at the influence of the EU institutions. This approach is, however, no substitute for a clear view about how Britain’s economic interests are best served, particularly when it comes to the direction in which the City – the nation’s only substantial, globally competitive industry – should evolve. Our European partners are entangled in a crisis of continental scale and have lost interest in being lectured to accede to the UK’s demands.

If the Prime Minister sees our future in the EU, with the City remaining closely integrated into the vast domestic European market, a more collaborative approach with our European partners is required. This path will involve facing down Eurosceptic sentiment in the UK. He must put forward a powerful case for why now is not the time for British belligerence. Time will need to be spent extracting the best deal for the City through careful diplomacy and the building of alliances. Talk of fundamental renegotiation is illusory. Many of my Conservative colleagues, whose idea of renegotiation would take the UK’s relationship with the EU back to a pre-Maastricht arrangement may not like it, but for the EU and the City the choice ahead is increasingly binary. This arises out of a dearth of strategic thinking in how we see the City operating in future and the relationship Britain should enjoy with the European Union in the years ahead. The long term success of the City is better served from within the EU, forming the laws that affect it and helping shape the EU’s future. Because a successful City and an engaged UK are good for the EU as a whole.

This article first appeared on the European Movement’s euroblog. Link: http://www.euromove.org.uk 

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

Campaigning in Chinese London

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 18th April, 2010

I spent the first part of today on an open-top bus, hired by the BC Project to encourage British Chinese to register to vote before the deadline on Tuesday and to vote in the general and local elections on 6 May. This is particularly important because Britain’s Chinese community traditionally stayed aloof from politics, though that is beginning to change, not least thanks to the efforts of the bus’s compere, Joseph Wu of Spectrum Radio. The bus’s tour began in my own constituency of Poplar and Limehouse, as Limehouse was the location of the first Chinese settlement in Britain, founded by Chinese sailors who left ships that came into the old London docks. The docks have long since gone and so too many of the Chinese, though there are still some fine Chinese restaurants in the area. Our bus (which contained three TV crews and several radio and print journalists, as well as many eager young Chinese activists) then moved westwards to Hammersmith, where we called by the Chinese church at Brook Green, where we were joined by the Chinese LibDem parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith, Merlene Emerson and the LibDem peer, Navnit Dholakia, who has been very active in inter-faith and mutlicultural issues. Next to Holborn and St Pancras in Camden, where we were briefly joined by the Chinese Conservative parliamentary candidate, George Lee. Lunchtime was in Chinatown in Soho, with Mark Field (seeking re-election as the Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster) and his Labour opponent, Dave Rowntree. We ended the tour in Hampstead, at the offices of local LibDem Councillor Linda Chung — winner of the sensational Hampstead Town by-election in 2008 — whose efforts to get two fellow LibDems elected this time got a simultaneuous boost from a fleeting visit from Mirian Clegg.

Link: www.bcproject.org.uk

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

Rugger Buggers, Rower Throwers and Hacks

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 8th November, 2008

st-edmund-hall  After a busy day of London engagements yesterday, I was able to board a much-delayed Oxford Tube bus for this year’s Philip Geddes Memorial function at my old college, St Edmund Hall, Oxford. The speaker at the lecture on ‘Whither journalism? The future of the press and new media’ was Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times, who had some tart things to say about bloggers (sigh). I guess most of us in the business have concerns about issues of responsibility, the lack of editorial control and the anonymity of much blogging, though personally I feel the pluses outweigh the minuses. At dinner afterwards, I found myself sitting between Lionel and my fellow Aularian, Mark Field MP (Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster), while opposite was Sir Trevor McDonald, whose son is currently an undergraduate at the college. The Principal of Teddy Hall, Mike Mingos, deserves much credit for carving a niche for journalism at the college, of which the annual lecture is an important feature. Hackery had almost no academic status at Oxford when I was an undergraduate there, and I was viewed as being a very strange creature for having spent what would these days be called a gap year before going up to university reporting on the war in Vietnam.

Philip Geddes was a Teddy Hall graduate of some promise who worked briefly at the London Evening Standard and the Daily Express. In 1983, he was in Harrods in Knightsbridge when the store was evacuated in a bomb scare; he stayed to investigate and was killed by the blast of an explosive left by the IRA. The following year, a prize was established in his memory — actually two: £1000 for the most promising student journalist at Oxford University and a £500 award for a student at St Edmund Hall.

Leaving last night’s dinner, we were greeted by the familar sound of carousing in the buttery in the old quad. The admission of women (there were none in my day) does not seem to have dampened the spirits of this very sporty college. ‘Rugger Buggers’ were the hearties of 40 years ago, but now, reportedly, they are matched by ‘rower throwers’ — rowers who throw up after drinking too much beer. Plus ca change.

Link: www.seh.ox.ac.uk

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