Author Archives: Paul Walter

Post Brexit trade – a refreshing British-Austrian perspective from an experienced UK industrialist

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Last night’s Shirley Williams Lecture (SWL) was really enlightening but also quite scary.

The speaker was Juergen Maier CBE, described as follows on the SWL website:

One of the UK’s leading industrialists and business thinkers, Juergen Maier rose to prominence as the Chief Executive of Siemens UK. A regular on Question Time and a Board Member of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Juergen has been outspoken on major issues such as Brexit, Industrial Strategy and the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Posted in Speeches | Tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President – film review


“Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” is a documentary movie which has recently been shown on Sky Arts. You can watch it via Sky On Demand, or via a slew of other home viewing methods.

I can’t recommend it highly enough. As a reader of Lib Dem Voice, there’s a very good chance you will find it riveting and also extremely entertaining.

I was privileged to visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum and Library in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He’s a surprising fellow. You see the smile and hear his high-minded words, but there are some surprises behind that image. I was interested to learn that, when growing up, most of his friends and daily companions were black. It is also often forgotten that he has a BSc in Nuclear Physics and gave up a promising career as a US nuclear submarine commander to go into politics.

Posted in Films | Tagged | 9 Comments

Should we thank Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon for 10 million vaccinations within a month?

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I could go on for hours about the government’s lamentable response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the one the government has got right, in my view, is the speed and volume of vaccination.

Some of my favourite heroes are Edward Jenner, Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain. – Not the sort of names you hear bandied about with your normal Shakespeare, Churchill, Nelson hero names. But, we owe much of our longer life expectancy to those scientists. The whole idea of the vaccine itself is a miracle. The fact that the scientists were able to come up with several vaccines for Covid-19 is a super-miracle.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

US Presidential inauguration – potential meteorological impact of millions of simultaneous signs of relief

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If all 7.7 billion of people alive on earth jumped up at the same time, apparently (when they hit the ground afterwards) there would be a huge ear-piercing sound of 200 decibels and severe ground shaking which could cause 4-8 scale earthquakes and a tsumnami with 100-feet waves.

I wondered about that prospect when I read the words “Trump departs the White House” this morning. I certainly heaved a huge sigh of relief. I should imagine that millions of other people did the same thing at roughly the same time. So one speculates that all these sighs of relief may well have had some form of meteorological impact.

There was a lot of relief around as the Presidential inauguration proceeded today.

In the same place as rioters broke into the Capitol 14 days ago, we saw Joe and Dr Jill Biden serenely proceed up the steps flanked by military guards.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments

US politics: Amidst the mud-slinging, a ray of hope

In the aftermath of the November 2000 US presidential election, I was off-work with a stress-related mental illness. In a good way, this meant I had plenty of time to read about the Bush/Gore hanging chads dispute. As a result, I discovered Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire. In the twenty years since then, hardly a day has gone by that I have not logged on to Political Wire – often several times a day.

It is a news aggregation website which is “light touch” – providing a miscellany of key political news and articles each day.

In the last few years, I have enrolled as a Political Wire member. The other day I saw a post advertising a webinar for members. I thought it would be fun to join it. This meant staying up until 1am last night! But it was a real treat. Amongst an audience of 900, there were such eminences as legendary pollster Charlie Cook and Obama adviser David Axelrod!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

History is made – Trump is the first US President to be impeached twice

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Just a few minutes ago, I watched as Nancy Pelosi brought down her gavel on the US House resolution to impeach Trump a record second time.

That means, the President is referred to the US Senate for a trial chaired by the Chief Justice, where a two-thirds majority is needed to convict President Trump of “inciting an insurrection”. The timetable appears to suggest that a Democratic-controlled Senate will consider the matter after President-elect Biden is sworn in.

Extraordinarily, ten Republicans voted for impeachment in the US House. This included Rep Liz Cheney – which is very significant. This was the most bipartisan impeachment in the history of the United States.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

The beauty of the US electoral vote certification process

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As a fan of US Congressional language, I was pleased to hear Vice-President Pence going through the electoral college certification process this morning.

Each state is taken in turn. Their envelope has been opened. Their certificate has been checked by the clerks to check that it is all in order – right date, right signature, right text – that sort of thing, I suppose.

Over and over again, for each state, VP Pence repeats the same officialese:

This certificate from State X, the Parliamentarians advise me, is the only certificated vote from the state, it purports to be a return from the state and is annexed to a certificate of authority from the state according to a point of ascertained electors.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 23 Comments

Tragic end to Trump’s deceit

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The National Statuary Hall.

It’s not a name that trips readily off the tongue. It’s a big hall with about a hundred statues in it, in the US Capitol building in Washington DC. Each state is allowed to choose two statues, which they can replace if wanted.

When I was shown round it in 2019, I noticed Rosa Parks. Her statue was not chosen by her home state, Alabama. In an exception to the rule, she was placed there by unanimous vote of both chambers of the Congress. That speaks volumes.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

Georgia on my mind – is it too early to do cartwheels?

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Political Wire’s Taegan Goodard wrote a few hours ago:

It Appears Democrats Have Won Control of the Senate

As of this post, there is still no official projection in either U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia, but the New York Times’s needle is very confident that both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will win.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 19 Comments

How on earth does this man still have access to a nuclear weapons trigger?

It is worth listening to this tape at length.

It ought to send a shiver down the spine of anyone who believes in democracy.

What staggers me is that this sort of call is happening well into January, rather than on November 4th last year.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Perhaps the best TV series the BBC has ever produced – and what it tells us about our society

Apologies for an England-centric article.

I’ve recently been catching up on my TV viewing. I have finally watched most of the episodes of Michael Wood’s “Story of England”.

This series follows the history of England from the Romans to the present day, through the prism of one village – Kibworth in Leicestershire.

It really is an amateur historian’s dream – because it focuses not on wars and kings, but instead uses basic digging by present-day villagers, and original documents (some of which haven’t been touched for over 500 years). Thereby, it focuses on history from the roots of our society. It dwells on the history of actual families through the centuries.

Two themes emerge which caught my eye.

Posted in TV and film | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Is it safe to come out now?

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With the certification of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes yesterday, Donald Trump finally bowed to the inevitable and signalled his administration to co-operate with the incoming transitional team of Joe Biden.

No concession though, you’ll note.

John T Bennett, Washington Bureau chief of the Independent writes today:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

A stunning speech from Joe Biden

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged | 9 Comments

Biden on course to win

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On your behalf, I have been carefully watching the US results as they come in.

It seems highly likely that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States of America.

He’s already flipped Arizona, the Nebraskan 2nd District and Wisconsin.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Trump’s claim of electoral fraud – “historic and historically awful”

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I’ve managed to get a good bit of sleep.

There are hopeful signs that Joe Biden has a path to win the US election, but we’ll have to be patient while the votes are counted. There are already hopeful signs from Arizona and Nebraska’s second district. I have also seen results from Wisconsin’s Dane County which are encouraging.

Just a few minutes ago I witnessed one of the most insane and disgraceful events in American political history.

Posted in News | 24 Comments

OPEN THREAD: Discussion of US election results as they come in

Paul writes..

 

Please use the comments thread below to discuss the US election results as they come in.

Here are a few links which may help you get your head round what to expect and when to expect it:

FiveThirtyEight has an excellent guide to the timings of the vote counts. Bear in mind that there are vastly more postal votes than usual this time. So results in some key states will not be available on election night.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged | 30 Comments

A few pointers for tonight’s American fun

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We’ll be maintaining an open thread for discussion of the US Election results tonight. It will open at 11pm tonight.

Here are a few links which may help you get your head round what to expect and when to expect it:

FiveThirtyEight has an excellent guide to the timings of the vote counts. Bear in mind that there are vastly more postal votes than usual this time. So results in some key states will not be available on election night.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged | 7 Comments

Election USA: Brace yourself for delay, frustration and confusion

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Those of a nervous disposition look away now.

TRUMP DECLARES VICTORY AS EARLY VOTE COUNTS FAVOUR HIM

-That could well be the headline you wake up to on Wednesday morning.

Donald Trump is preparing a podium to walk up to and say that he has won the US Presidential election, after a few votes are counted in swing states.

And he may well have some evidence to support him, to a small extent.

The way the votes are being cast in the USA, and the ways in which they will be counted, verified and challenged, is like no other American election.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Firms overlook the importance of nurturing young staff in the office at their peril

It was encouraging to read this report from the Guardian. A survey has shown that COVID-19 has changed attitudes to home working for the long term.

This is very good news. A healthy element of home working is good for the mental health of workers, saves on carbon emissions and reduces transport snafus.

But I am glad that the Guardian report has put the emphasis on a blended approach. That is, a mixture of home and office working.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

How you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

Posted in Site news | 4 Comments

Reflections on the Internal Market Bill and Boris Johnson’s cooking skills

The genesis of the “law breaking” part of the Internal Market Bill can be traced back to Theresa May’s actions as PM. The following words were said to Theresa May at the time by Sir Ivan Rogers, former British Ambassador to the EU. He reported his statement to her to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons:

You have made three commitments in good faith to different audiences, but they are not really compatible with each other.

You have said to the Irish… under no circumstances will a hard border be erected across the island of Ireland.

You have said to the Democratic Unionist community that under no circumstances will there be divergence from the rest of Great Britain.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 51 Comments

Ed gets his listening tour off to a great start by dishing out fish and chips

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Paddy did a listening tour back in the early 1990s. Because it was Paddy, it was very sleeves-rolled-up, get-stuck-in. And, of course, typical Paddy as well, he wrote a book about it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Dawn Butler incident – hopefully this will lead to review and change in the Met Police

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I have been very impressed by the calm and fair way that Dawn Butler MP has dealt with the police stop incident on Sunday. She has been very specific about the particular behaviour she is criticising.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Leadership election ballots hit doormats and inboxes

Leadership email and paper ballots have been going out over the last 24 hours.

Party members have until 1pm on Wednesday 26th August to place “1” or “2” or “blank” against the names of (listed alphabetically) Ed Davey and Layla Moran, or to abstain.

I received my email this morning from Alan Masters, the returning officer. The email included a unique number which I should use to place my vote.

It included the following links for those who are yet to decide:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | Leave a comment

Register now for our first online conference!

Members are just receiving an invitation to register for the first Liberal Democrat online Autumn Conference, being held from 25th-28th September 2020.

The email from Geoff Payne, chair of the Conference Committee is as follows, minus my membership number (if you’ll forgive me!):

It’s official: Registration is now open for our first-ever online conference!

You’ll need your membership number.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 2 Comments

100% face masks in English shops on Friday? They’re having a laugh…..

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We’re sailing breezily towards Friday when, suddenly, everybody is meant to be wearing face masks in shops.

It’s not going to happen.

I see hardly any face masks being worn out at the moment.

To expect a sudden pivot on Friday is just ridiculous.

The police aren’t going to enforce the rule to any significant extent.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 130 Comments

Every so often, it’s worth having a look at this table…

OK, I know that countries have very different ways of reporting deaths from Covid-19.

But this table, from Worldometer (excluding a couple of micro-states), gives us some idea how the UK is doing in terms of Covid-19 deaths per million of population.

Badly.

We are second in the world for the rate of deaths, after Belgium.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 68 Comments

I went to the pub…light the blue touchpaper and stand well back

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I figured that last weekend would be a bit crowded in pubs, so I reserved time in my (not-so)busy diary to visit the pub yesterday. Monday is the new Saturday.

All went well. The pub I visited seem to have lots of measures in place, and well-trained staff.

I enjoyed an excellent couple of pints of a local brew (Loddon Brewery’s Citra-Quad, since you ask). I had a meal which was obviously well-familiar with the inside of a microwave but still, as they used to say, “filled a hole”.

So far, so uncontroversial.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 32 Comments

+++Wera Hobhouse pulls out of party leadership race

This was tweeted by Wera Hobhouse a few minutes ago:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 42 Comments

My heart leapt for joy when I saw that statue chucked into Bristol harbour

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Sunday’s event in Bristol was exceptional.

I am not going to be mealy-mouthed about it.

My heart leapt for joy when I saw that damned statue unceremoniously chucked into the harbour.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 69 Comments
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