Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Putney’

The Putney and Wandsworth Euro-Hustings

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 15th May, 2019

Wandsworth hustingsThough this month’s European elections were organised in great haste in the UK (and through gritted teeth by the Conservative government), an admirable number of public hustings has been taking place round London, including one last night at St. Anne’s Church in Wandsworth, in which I took part. It was set up by the Putney and Wandsworth Societies and attracted about 100 members of the public, which was encouraging given the short notice. In fact there is far more interest in this set of European elections than ever before (and I can say that having stood in all but one of them!), to an extent becoming a sort of new referendum on whether Brits want to stay in the EU of not. Recent opinion polls confirm what I have been finding on the doorstep, namely that the electorate is polarising towards either Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party or to the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats (and to a lesser extent the Greens).

There was no Brexit candidate at last night’s hustings, bizarrely, though they were invited; maybe they knew they would get a frosty reception in such a pro-Remain part of the capital. However, UKIP was represented by Freddy Vachha, one of the more politely eccentric members of his party; he caused the biggest laugh of the evening by describing the Conservatives as neo-Marxist! The Conservatives had Scott Pattenden from Bromley, who had to counter some quite pointed questioning about Theresa May, David Cameron and the Brexit mess. The Greens were represented by Gulnar Hasnain, who adopted the line that the Greens are the largest pro-EU UK party in the outgoing European Parliament (true for 2014-2019, though that is unlikely to be the case after 23 May). ChangeUK’s candidate was Hasseeb Ur-Rehman, who essentially read a quite detailed policy paper in his allotted four minutes. Labour, naughtily sent not a Euro-candidate but the PPC for Putney, Fleur Anderson, which earned a rebuke from a Labour Party member in the audience. Fleur maintained that Labour is a Remain Party because the two leading MEP candidates are, but the audience wasn’t going to let that pass without adverse comment about Jeremy Corbyn and Lexit. I had a fairly easy ride as a LibDem, though inevitably came under fire from the small number of UKIP or Brexit Party supporters in the church, demanding to know why I was neither Liberal nor a Democrat by calling for a People’s Vote when there had already been a referendum in 2016. It was clear from the majority voices in the room, however, that a People’s Vote was a popular option for this audience, with a heavy preponderance of Remain.

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Putney and a Message of Hope

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 4th February, 2009

Haringey Councillor Fiyaz Mughal and I did a double act at last night’s annual dinner of Putney Liberal Democrats, Fiyaz talking about community cohesion in Britain and I about European issues and the European election campaign. The interesting common thread — though we had not conferred in advance — was that of outreach. Fiyaz stressed how the Liberal Democrats (as well as various institutions of British society) need to reach out more to different community groups and to facilitate exchanges between diverse ethnicities and religions, particularly at a time where there are certain inter-communal tensions and there is a lot of anger among Muslims about recent events in Gaza. They are looking for understanding interlocutors, maybe for hope.

For my part, I spoke of the need for Liberal Democrats during the four months until the Euro-vote to reach out to all sorts of different groups and individuals in London, many of whom may not identify themselves as Liberal Democrats or even have voted for the party before (or at all). In fact, that is partly what my campaign is trying to do, not least through employing new technologies and networking opportunities, allowing not just for one-way communication from my side but also for interaction. Already, now that I have a functioning Facebook Campaign Group page (Jonathan Fryer 4 Europe), and Twitter (www.twitter.com/jonathanfryer), as well as a website (www.jonathanfryer4europe.com) , dialogue is growing with people of all types and ages. For me, that is what politics should be about: interchange, not preaching. The message we’ll be putting out in the campaign is one of hope, too: that even at this time of financial crisis and recession, a more united Europe can offer solutions in the fields of economics, the environment and cross-border security, amongst others, which a medium-sized country like Britain acting on its own can no longer do. 

Link: www.putney-libdems.org

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