Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Turhan Ozen’

Electrical Safety First

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 7th April, 2014

Electrical Safety FirstOne of the joys of be a European politician — at least, from my point of view — is that almost daily one is confronted with an issue that deserves careful study and sometimes a practical or even legislative response. So I was particularly pleased this evening to take part in a dinner briefing and discussion session with Electrical Safety First (formerly the Electrical Safety Council), examining matters ranging from fatal household fires caused by faulty electrical wiring or equipment to product recall. Fellow LibDem politicians there were Mike Hancock MP (Eastleigh), Lords Dykes and Tope and Baroness Tonge (whose own daughter was the victim of an awful fatal electrical accident), and Councillors Richard Kemp (Liverpool), Michael Bukola (Southwark), Chris Naylor (Camden) and Simon James (Kingston). Simon is also one of my fellow Euro-candidates (as well as on the Council of Europe’s equivalent of the committee of the regions), and so too is Turhan Ozen (also LibDem PPC for Totenham) who was present. In my short remarks I stressed that although I am a keen European, and have been following European affairs ever since Reuters sent me to Brussels in 1974, nonetheless I don’t believe there has to be a European law for everything. However, clearly in the field of consumer protection the EU does have a role to play in setting standards and guidelines (as, for example, with food quality), even if most of the relevant laws should be national or even regional or local. In the UK there is a general trend towards less EU regulation, but I have always argued that the EU should do less, better. In the field of consumer protection relating to electrical goods and appliances that obviously should include compulsory safety levels, and maybe qualifications/training for electricians, though it does not necessarily have to go into the minutiae of plugs, sockets, fuses, etc. But as others round the table rightly stressed, a lot needs to be done at a local level, not only protecting council tenants but also private rental properties. It’s obligatory for gas safety, so why not for electricity, which can be just as fatal. So for me this was an extremely productive evening. I learned a lot, but also I realsied that if I do get elected on 22 May there are some very practical things I can be pushing for to help consumers in London.

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Newroz in Finsbury Park

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 23rd March, 2014

Newroz Finsbury ParkThis afternoon I stood in bright sunshine on a stage in London’s Finsbury Park, speaking to a crowd of several thousand Kurds, to mark the festival of Newroz. In traditional Kurdish villages, people would jump over a fire at Newroz, but as I said in my speech, although there was no fire in front of me I could feel the fire in the people before me. They are right to be proud of their long history, culture and language, and to struggle for greater rights in the Middle East. In recent years I have been to Amed (Diyarbakir) and surrounding districts in predominantly Kurdiah areas of south-eastern Turkey, monitoring elections, though I won’t be able to go to cover the local elections in Turkey next month as I’m staying in London to campaign for the European elections. I said to the crowd it is important that they — if they have British or other European Union passports — vote on 22 May for a party that supports the rights of minority peoples and is committed to Britain remaining in the EU, or otherwise urge their neighbours and friends to do so. Apart from Sarah Ludford MEP (who also has a longstanding interest in Kurdish issues) and myself, on the LibDem list for London we also have a Turkish Kurd, Turhan Ozen. The situation in Turkey is frustrating in that Recep Tayyip Erdogan made some significant moves towards recognising Kurdish rights but like so much of his policy, this has often been a situation of one step forward, one step back. In Syrian Rojava the situation is critical for many Kurds and in Iran several Kurdish leaders have recently been executed or harassed. Only in the Kurdish region of Iraq (KRG) — which I visited this time last year — is the situation markedly better. So Kurds have a lot to struggle for. But as I concluded in my short speech, today is a day for celebration. Newroz Piroj Be!

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The Consequences of UK Euroscepticism

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 16th January, 2014

NOS logoTurhan Ozen and JFThis evening, at an inaugural debate at the new Network of Students (NOS) building in Whitehall my fellow London LibDem Euro-candidate Turhan Ozen and I debated the Consequences of the UK’s Euroscepticism with young people from Turkey, Russia (Chechnya), Ireland, the UK and elsewhere. I explained that when I was first sent to Brussels by Reuters soon after leaving university — and not very long after Britain joined the then European Economic Community — I was a bit of a Eurosceptic myself, but in the true sense of the word, i.e. examining critically and questioning what this evolving body and its institutions were all about. Seven years in the self-styled Capital of Europe really awakened me to the great potential of a more united Europe, as well as to the great richness and diversity of European culture. How much more so today, with 28 member states and a single market in which there is freedom of movement, which means young people can seek new opportunities for study, work or travel, and many older people find a place in the sun in which to retire. But all that is being put at risk by today’s Eurosceptics, who ought really to be called Europhobes. They hate the EU with a passion that at times spills over into xenophobia. Moreover much of the propaganda put out by UKIP, the Tory Right and their cheerleaders in the Press (Dail Mail, Daily Express et al) is packed with lies, distortions and myths, which means that those of us who are Euro-realists — acknowledging the validity of the European project, while recognising that some things need to be reformed — are forced to spend a lot of our time simply refuting rubbish. Like the “invasion” of Britain by millions of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants this month, which simply hasn’t happened. Or the claim that EU migrants are a huge burden on our welfare system — even ripping it off — whereas all the evidence shows that they make a substantial net contribution to the national coffers through their tax and national insurance. As I said this evening, my fear is that in trying to placate the Europhobes in his own party in the forlorn hope that this will quieten them down, David Cameron is acually encouraging them to demand more. At the same time, our continental partners are getting increasingly pissed off with hokey-cokey Britain, with one foot in and one foot out, while trying to shake it all about. No wonder growing numbers of continentals now shrug their shoulders at the prospect of a UK withdrawal, as opposed to the expression of dismay of a few years ago. The run-up to the European elections in May are going to be a rum affair in this country, with the major Coalition partner singing from a very different hymn-sheet from that of its junior partner. But so be it. Nick Clegg and everyone else, from Party President Tim Farron through Ministers to MPs and most LibDem activists are singing the same hymn, which proclaims that the Liberal Democrats are the party of IN. We must shout that from the rooftops so fellow Euro-realists realise there actually is a mainstream party in the UK that is sane on the matter.

Link: http://www.networkofstudents.org/nos/

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Liberal Democrat Friends of Turkey

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 8th December, 2008

liberal-democrat-friends-of-turkey        

The newly-founded Liberal Democrat Friends of Turkey (LDFT) has had a festive launch, at a hostelry in Upper Street, Islington. The local PPC, Bridget Fox, and I were delighted to join Turhan Ozen and an ethusiastic group of Turkish-speaking young people, mainly from North London. There is a sizeable Turkish and Turkish Cypriot community in the capital, many of whom are now keen to get more involved in local life. The Liberal Democrats, of course, strongly support Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, once it has made sufficient progress in a number of economic and political areas. Quite how many years that will take is anybody’s guess at the moment, but it is important that the goal be kept clearly in view and that the Turkish-speaking population in London is in the meantime able to play its due role in this extraordinary multicultural city.  

A LDFT Facebook Group has been set up: ‘Liberal Democrat Friends of Turkey’

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