Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Tim Clement-Jones’

Writers in Parliament

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 7th December, 2016

simon-rendell-and-valerie-amosYesterday the House of Commons terrace hosted the Winter Reception of the All Party Writers Group, sponsored by the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), on whose Board I sit. These events seem to grow each year, which is a good reflection of a growing awareness in both the Commons and the Lords about the challenges facing writers today. The creative industries contribute at least £70 billion a year to the UK economy and writers are a vital part of that production, yet writers’ incomes have in general fallen drastically in recent years. The J. K. Rowlings of this world are the exception, as the average professional writer these days earns only about £12,000 a year, which is barely enough to subsist on. Moreover, tough challenges are coming down the line, not least Brexit and the advance of the digital age. This means a lot of uncertainty lies ahead, which is why it is so important that writers have allies in Parliament to intervene as appropriate when relevant legislation is being discussed, from the digital economy bill to EU copyright directives. In recent months a new body, UKWriters, on whose steering group I sit, has been coordinating some of the lobbying work and priority-setting by writers’ organisations, including ALCS and the Society of Authors.

andy-mcnabSeveral of the MPs and peers present at yesterday’s receptions are authors themselves (and therefore beneficiaries of secondary royalties from ALCS, as well as Public Lending Right (PLR). It was good to see, among others, Tim Clement-Jones, Valerie Amos and Richard Balfe. However, the peer most in people’s minds was the late Ruth Rendell, in whose name an award was created, to recognise the work of someone who has promoted literacy brilliantly. I was honoured to be the ALCS representative on the judging panel and delighted that the first winner was Andy McNab whose back-story as a writer and brave exploits in “unsafe spaces” for literature (such as factories and prisons) richly merited the accolade. He was alas unable to be present to accept the award from Ruth Rendell’s son, the psychiatric social worker, Simon, as he was yomping somewhere far-flung. But Simon had come over from Colorado, where he lives, and Andy McNab was represented by a witty and impressive recorded message redolent of the sort of originality and quirkiness that makes him so special.

Advertisements

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

The UK’s Creative Industries post-Brexit

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 9th August, 2016

LibDem CreativesLast night the relatively new Liberal Democrat Creatives group heard Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones outline some of the challenges facing the UK’s creative industries as a result of June’s vote for Brexit. He is part of the LibDems’ parliamentary team covering the Department of Culture, Media and Sport brief. We know from opinion polling that the creative sector voted overwhelmingly for Remain, but Tim argued that we now have to assume that Britain will leave the EU and that therefore we must try to make the best of it. Britain’s creative sector has been a phenomenal success in recent years, growing two or even three times as fast as the rest of the economy and accounting for an annual turnover of more than £80 billion. It’s not just the quality of content and innovation that have made this possible but also the skills of British technicians and crews, especially in the AV sector. In principle, given the global nature of the English language Britain should continue to operate at an advantage when targeting the US and Commonwealth markets, but the future situation with regard to the UK’s relationship with the EU is far more problematic. Currently we have to conform with EU directives but we also have a strong voice in how EU regulations are formed, which will no longer be the case after Brexit. Even more worrying is the likely impact of an end to free movement of labour, goods and services. It will probably be more difficult for British film-makers, actors, technicians and others to work on the Continent and similarly there may be curbs on EU citizens coming to Britain, which would certainly impoverish cultural exchange. That may also effect the facility for and desire of European students coming to Britain to study such things as drama, film and television. But the central problem at the moment is that no-one knows exactly what Brexit means and what sort of deal Britain will manage to negotiate with the 27 remaining states. Some LibDem Creatives in the audience last night expressed fears that we could, for example, see a return to the need for carnets for technical crews travelling to the Continent, meticulously listing all their equipment, which could be horribly time-consuming as well as financially draining. Despite Tim Clement-Jones’s attempt to be at least a little upbeat the mood in the room — appropriately a performance space over a pub in Bermondsey — was predominantly gloomy, as most people thought Brexit would be negative for the sector. Indeed many of us continue to hope that Britain will pull back from the brink when it is clear that no Brexit deal can be anything like as good as what we enjoy at the moment as members of the EU.

 

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

Chinese Liberal Democrat Dragons

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 2nd February, 2012

Chinese New Year, like Christmas, is an extendable feast, so there was still a vibrant celebratory spirit when Chinese Liberal Democrats (CLD) filled the whole of the large Tuli Chinese Restaurant by London Bridge station in Southwark this evening. There was a serious fundraising side to the affair, for the May London Mayoral and GLA elections, so the LibDems’ Mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick, was much in evidence, alongside a number of the party’s impressive and very multicultural GLA candidates, including Merlene Emerson, the Singapore-born Chair of CLD. She had put a huge amount of effort into organising the event and co-presented it along with the irrepressible Joseph Wu, formerly of Spectrum Radio but now working mainly (on a non-party political basis)  to encourage British Chinese to register to vote and to use their vote in all elections. It was pointed out that the LibDems have more ethnic Chinese councillors than any other party, and of course our sister party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, has a Chinese member of Stormont too. Guest speakers at the 12-course banquet were Sir Graham Watson, President of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR) — who used to work for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank and still keeps a keen interest in EU-China affairs — and Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones, long-time party grandee, whose main claim to fame this evening he declared was having a Chinese mother-in-law. The food was remarkably authentic, unlike that in most Chinese restaurants in London, and we were entertained between courses by a very flirtatious dancing lion and an exhibition of Chinese martial arts. This New Year, as everyone should know by now, is the Year of the Dragon and it was underlined that in China dragons are far friendlier creatures than those of Western legends. So perhaps Merlene Emerson and her predecessor as Chair of CLD, Cllr Linda Chung of Hampstead (who was of course also present tonight), won’t mind my calling them the two Dragon Empresses of London Liberal Democrats, whose work promoting the values of liberal democracy within the Chinese community has been exemplary.

Link: http://chineselibdems.org.uk

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

Tim Clement-Jones and Social Angst

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 24th August, 2011

If you have a social event lined up with a top rank political speaker and then suddenly a council by-election is called, what should you do? Camden LibDems provided the answer this evening when they moved the speaker event with Lord Clement-Jones from its original venue to the house of the candidate in the said  by-election, Martin Hay, so at least some of the guests could come on after campaigning. The by-election is in Highgate and Martin is the only candidate standing who actually lives in the ward. He and his wife put on a wonderful spread of smoked salmon, French cheeses and extremely good wine, while Tim regaled us with tales of being a backbench member of the House of Lords. Of course he does not agree with everything the Government is doing — no Liberal Democrat does — but that is life within a Coalition, where you only get some of what you want. Interestingly, Tim said that he thought students would come to realise that they are actually going to better off under the new system of post-graduation payments than they are under the one set up by Labour. But there is no denying it was a mistake to persuade PPCs to make the pledge to scrap tuition fees, which Vince Cable, for one, had declared unsustainable. Tim understands some of what he called ths social angst at present, and he is not alone amongst LibDem peers in feeling the current cuts are maybe too much too fast. In good LibDem fashion he would have preferred something somewhere between what George Osborne has demanded and what Labour would have done had they been returned to power. But he was buoyed by the latest ICM poll just out which puts the party up at 17% (Tories 37%, Labour 36%), which is a much rosier picture thn YouGov and others have been painting.

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

A Changing China in a Changing World

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 23rd September, 2009

Fu YingAmbassador Fu Ying became the first Communist Chinese head of mission to address Liberal Democrats at their autumn conference in Bournemouth this lunchtime, at a crowded fringe meeting on ‘A Changing China in a Changing World’, alongside LibDem Lords Tom McNally and Tim Clement-Jones, foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey MP  and Professor Hugo de Burgh, Director of the Chinese Media Centre at the University of Westminster. Ambassador Fu is both rather glamorous (more silver-haired than in her official photograph) and very impressive; the days of baggy Mao suits among Chinese diplomats have long gone. Having studied in England and served as Ambassador to Australia, she is used to dealing robustly with critical questioning, of which, as one might expect, there was quite a lot at this meeting. Among issues of concern raised by party members were China’s continued use of the death penalty for a very wide range of offences and the continued imprisonment of Tiananmen protestors from 20 years ago.

Tianmen SquareOn 1 October, the People’s Republic will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. Interestingly, the Ambassador said that this has prompted many older Chinese to look back nostalgically at the advances made. It is easy to forget just how underdeveloped and strife-ridden the country was in 1949. Unquestionably, China has made huge strides, as well as some mistakes (the biggest of all being the Cultural Revolution). As New China enters its seventh decade, it is playing a role on the international stage more in keeping with its size and power. The 19th century was in some ways a British century, the 20th even more so an American one. History will judge whether the 21st turns out to be China’s.

Ambassador Fu ended the fringe meeting with a pertinent comment which reflected what I have been told recently by several of my Chinese students at SOAS, namely that while there are aspects of China which sometimes give it a negative image in the West, similarly aspects of countries like Britain sometimes generate a negative image in China too. So any work on image improvement needs to be a two-way process.

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

Priorities for UK-Kurdistan Relations

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 28th July, 2009

Kurdistan mallThe All-Party Parliamentary Group  (APPG) on the Kurdistan region of Iraq launched its latest report at the House of Commons the other day, following a visit to the region by several British parliamentarians, including LibDem peer Tim Clement-Jones. The remit of the APPG  is ‘to promote friendship and understanding between the peoples of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and Great Britain and to encourage the development of democratic institutions in the Kurdistan Region as part of the democratic and federal process in the wider Iraq.’  Last week, elections took place in Kurdistan, with a high turnout. Whatever may be the aspirations of  some of the disparate Kurdish groups in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran, not to mention within the worldwide Kurdish diaspora, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is committed to the region’s status as an integral part of Iraq, while enjoying a considerable degree of autonomy.The British parliamentary delegation noted continuing economic development and stability in Iraqi Kurdistan, despite the fluctuation in oil prices and deteriorating relations between the KRG and Baghdad. In contrast, relations with Turkey had improved over the previous 12 months.

The APPG lamented  the fact that there was only minimal representation from the KRG at a seminar on investment opportunities in Iraq put on earlier this year in London by the Department for International Development, but noted that a special event on investment in the region will take place here in September. In the meantime, the parliamentarians argued amongst other things for an opening up of the visa regime, to make it easier for businessmen and students from Kurdistan to come to the UK; for cooperation not only the oil industry but also in agriculture, which is a sector that has declined seriously over the past 20 years; for the development of tourism in Kurdistan; and for the establishment of direct flights between London and Erbil.

Link: www.krg.org

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