Author Archives: Paul Walter

Government announces new plan to help those impacted by ME/CFS

There’s been a recent government announcement about ME/CFS which deserves some attention.

As the government says:

Plans to help improve the lives of people living with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) have been outlined by the government today and a consultation launched on how best to deliver the plan.

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The humbling gratitude of Ukrainians

One word: humbling. That was my feeling as I listened to the remarkable conference speech by Ukrainian MP Kira Rudik on Monday morning. She is leader of Holos, the first Liberal Party to be elected to the Ukrainian Parliament.

All one’s everyday concerns were reduced to insignificance as we heard of the bravery and tenacity of Ukrainians under the most harrowing conditions. Their belief in the survival and eventual flourishing of their country, their incredible solidarity, is absolutely awesome.

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…and we’re back in the hall!

Tim Farron makes the first policy speech of conference this morning

The first policy speech of the first in-person autumn conference since 2019 brought a smile to my face and very positively answered the question “What is Tim Farron for?”

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Helping Emma and team in Mid Beds

Stephen (left) and François at Flitwick by-election HQ this morning

I’ve helped at the odd by-election (!) but normally I don’t see the candidate during brief visits to the HQ to pick up bundles of Focii.

At Mid Beds this week, I have had a double candidate “I Spy” score. As we were watching “Rookie” on Sunday evening, Emma Holland-Lindsay actually phoned me on our landline phone (which these days is a bit like the Carlsberg complaints phone).

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Conference papers now available online

All the papers for the Bournemouth Conference (September 23-26) are now available online here.

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Trump Georgia indictment – this is different

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It’s easy to think that the latest Trump indictment in Georgia is more of the same – 33 more charges to add to his existing 78 – and that people have grown numb to all of this.

But the Georgia charges are significantly different in several ways.

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LibLink: Mark Pack on Sunak’s ‘war on woke’

The Guardian has an article asking “Can Sunak’s rightwing war on ‘woke’, migrants and the environment save the Tories?” with contributions from a panel including our own President, Mark Pack:

It is, after all, the Liberal Democrats – not the rightwing populists of Reform – who have taken four seats off the government with record-breaking swings in byelections this parliament. The message from voters to Lib-Dem canvassers in those contests was very consistent. It was about the NHS and the cost of living, about sewage and failing public services. It was about being fed up with the Conservatives, their lockdown parties and their failures on the mainstream issues.

That’s borne out by pollsters too. The cost of living and the NHS are consistently the top-rated issues. Even Conservative voters want the most polluting vehicles to pay higher taxes and Conservatives are more supportive of the 2050 net zero target than voters in general.

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495 Uxbridge voters tip the whole UK climate policy into madness

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Labour’s vote at Uxbridge went down (by-election compared to last general election). Our vote at Frome went up in the same comparison.

Within that context, it is not fanciful to suggest that if Labour had bussed in an extra 10 helpers the day before the Uxbridge by-election, they could well have won it.

So, it is therefore incredibly frustrating to see Rishi Sunak’s behaviour since July 20th.

We have seen “global boiling”, in the words of the UN Secretary General, becoming normal in July. Rhodes burning, Europe melting. The UK, so far, getting off luckily with fresh weather.

Yet, it seems that just 495 voters in Uxbridge have tipped Rishi Sunak (and Keir Starmer) into climate madness.

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Somerton and Frome diary – Libby alights on our spatulas!

Photo above – In the Frome HQ, showing off Sarah Dyke’s image and their spatulas, are Holly Gunning (l) and Councillor Emily Pearlstone (r)


It doesn’t seem a long time ago. That was when I last visited Somerton and Frome to campaign for my good friend, David Rendel, in the general election. It was a mark of the chutzpah of David Rendel that he took on the challenge of Somerton and Frome after being MP for Newbury for 12 years.

In the event, the seat was won, with a large majority, by a Conservative newcomer, one David Warburton.

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Commons vote puts Boris beyond the pale

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It was very important that there was a clear vote in support of the Privileges Committee vote on Boris Johnson’s lying.

354 votes to seven sounds good to me.

But spare a thought for Labour Chief Whip Sir Alan Campbell. If he had not shouted “No! No! No!” in the Speaker’s Ear and then followed it up with the procedural obligation of a “no” vote (he was one of the seven), then there would not have been a vote, which would have been disgraceful.

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West Berkshire turns orange

After 18 years of Conservative control, the Liberal Democrats won control of West Berkshire Council in the most stunning fashion.

Starting from a base of 16 seats, the Lib Dems leap frogged to 29 seats out of 43, winning in traditional Tory rural heartlands such as Bucklebury.

Local issues included a saga involving Newbury’s football pitch, potholes and the Local Plan. There was also a backcloth of local Tory in-fighting and the national picture.

You have to go back 32 years in the district to when control of the main local council changed from Tory to LibDem hands – that was in 1991.

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Bishop of Oxford’s essay scores A+

“I’m a member of the Church of England” is not a phrase I often shout at the top of my voice in Liberal Democrat circles.

When my ecclesiastical membership becomes apparent, my normal “escape route” is to say that I am a “Tutu Anglican”. In all matters of the church, I find it sufficient to say “What Desmond said”. For example, the great Archbishop said:

I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.

Bishop Steven Croft, who as the Bishop of Oxford is a member of the House of Lords, published a 52-page essay on November 4th 2022.

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Tributes paid to Paul Hannon, former LibDem leader of Newbury District Council

Over on, there is a fine obituary of Paul Hannon, former LibDem leader of Newbury District Council.

The piece includes this tribute to Paul from Lord Benyon, former MP for Newbury:

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Do you want to work for the Liberal Democrats?

Photo by Jon Ball Photo by Jon BallThere’s a special page on the party website which lists “all of the open work and volunteering opportunities with the Liberal Democrats”.

Current opportunities are include the role of Federal HR adviser (part time), a host of paid opportunities with constituency parties such as Campaign Officer with Twickenham and Richmond, to help re-elect Sarah Olney MP.

There are a swathe of volunteer roles that need filling including for Disciplinary sub-group members, volunteers to phone local party officers and Campaign for Gender Balance chairs and vice-chairs.

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Donald Trump makes “beyond parody” major announcement

Donald Trump has said for days that he was going to make a “major announcement”.

After all the waiting – this is it! It has been described by US political commentator Taegan Goddard as “beyond parody”.

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The right to protest peacefully – we must cherish it, even if we disagree with the protesters

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The other day, I overheard someone describing how they would like the “Stop Oil” protesters to be dealt with. It was not pleasant and I am not going to repeat their words here for fear of inciting hatred.

Protests can be very tiresome and disturb our normal routine.

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The chilling parallels between the 1962 Cuban crisis and today in Ukraine

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Historian Max Hastings’ latest book is “Abyss: The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962” (William Collins, £30 557pp).

I was fortunate to attend a talk by Hastings on the book, at the recent Wantage Literary Festival. To a packed house, he gave a compelling narrative about the events.

His conclusion was that we (the world) were very lucky to John F Kennedy as President during the Cuban crisis. He brought a high intelligence to bear on the issue, and, in particular, faced down his military advisers who were “gung ho” for war. This is summed up by this excerpt from the book’s description on Max Hastings’ website:

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US Midterms – the ones to watch (if you can stand it)

Bracing yourself for disappointment seems to be a good approach to the US Midterms.

With the Democrats panicking about the New York state governorship (previously thought safe for their Kathy Hochul), it could be a very bad night for the Democrats.

Public focus has turned increasingly to the economy and crime in recent weeks. That’s not good for the Democrats, although there is still a hope that abortion will help them as an issue.

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70 years of data suggest the Conservatives will suffer a big defeat at the next election’

Over on The Conversation, Professor Paul Whiteley has written a piece entitled: “70 years of data suggest the Conservatives will suffer a big defeat at the next election – here’s how I worked it out“.

Professor Whiteley goes back to 1945 and looks at polling for the Conservatives taken 19 months before each general election, compared to the seats they won at the subsequent election.

The result is a remarkable correlation, with exceptions for a couple of occasions.

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Link: Ed Davey interview: ‘I made my priority very clear and it is to beat Conservative MPs’

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Over on Politics Home, there is an in-depth interview with Ed Davey.

Their journalist Tali Fraser covers a broad range of topics with Ed from his personal story, his passion for carers, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, energy policy and our recent by-election successes.

Ed has this verdict on the current situation:

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Calls for inquiry into Braverman return as home secretary

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The Guardian reports that both the Liberal Democrats and Labour have called for an inquiry into the reappointment of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary:

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Guardian features two Lib Dems whose first date was delivering Focuses in the snow

This will warm the cockles of your heart, dear reader.

The Guardian has a regular feature called “How we met”, where couples recall the early days of their relationship.

This week, they feature “Nicky, 37, and Simon, 40”. They found love at first sight when they both got up to close a window together at a Lib Dem training weekend in Derby!

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Reaction to Sunak as PM

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Rishi Sunak will (not) be kissing the King’s hand this morning.

Here’s some of the Lib Dem reaction to Sunak’s elevation:

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Don’t look to the USA mid-term elections for any light relief

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After a long lie-down in a darkened room, it’s very good to be back with the LDV team.

Such a crazy time in UK politics might tempt us to look to the USA mid-term elections for some light relief. Sadly, disappointment awaits us at the other side of the pond.

I doubt whether the US mid-term election results will provide any light. Indeed, a great deal of heat and frustration is likely to accompany the outcome.

I won’t, for a second, make any predictions, aside from advising all to adopt the brace position. Prepare for whatever you perceive as the worst outcome.

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Peaceful protest

It is very concerning to see incidents of peaceful protesters being arrested.

This is opposite to everything that the late Queen stood for – and presided over – for 70 years.

We have a right to peaceful protest in this country. We cannot pretend that dissent does not exist. There will never be 100% agreement on everything. It is ridiculous to try to pretend that there is 100% approval of the monarchy. Our strength is that we tolerate dissent.

We should wear peaceful protests as a badge of honour. It is sign of a healthy democracy.

The young lad in Edinburgh should have been protected from the mob – not allowed to be yanked about by members of the crowd, and not arrested for some trumped-up charge.

There seems to have been some lack of preparation here. In all the plans about proclamations etc, had no one thought to prepare for peaceful protests?

As Alistair Carmichael tweeted:


The greatest way we can honour Her Majesty the Queen is to preserve and celebrate dissent – and the peaceful protest which goes with it – in this country.

There needs to be urgent recalibration of the police response to peaceful protest in the light of the current period of mourning and ceremony.

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The curious case of a major capital city whose people are disenfranchised (but there could be a bright side)

One of the privileges of bucket-list-retirement has been to spend a little time in Washington DC.

There is much to admire in the US constitution and some elements of its democracy. The democratic status of its capital city is not admirable. It’s a “special federal district” – the District of Columbia – not a state. So, it does not have voting representation in Congress. That’s an estimated 536,768 people ( eligible to vote, without someone to vote on their behalf in Congress.

Compare that to the state of Wyoming’s voting-eligible population of 434,852, who elect a voting US House representative and two – count them – two US Senators (out of a total of only 100).

It is an egregious case of disenfranchisement. It is an downright ungrateful way to treat hard working staff (bearing in mind that much of the DC population is employed by, connected to employees of, the federal US government.)

It should also be noted that “DC” is heavily Democrat, as any casual walk along its residential streets will tell you – just going by the posters up in house windows.

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The islands at the end of the world

About ten years ago, I started drafting my “bucket list”. A top item was to visit the Rosa Parks museum in wonderful Montgomery, Alabama, which I did a few years ago. Up there with Rosa was St Kilda. I started to read about these magical islands and their enchanting history of human habitation by the extraordinary St Kildans. The more I read, the more I became determined to pay a visit to that remote archipelago, some 110 miles off the coast of the Scottish mainland.

They were continuously inhabited by self-reliant islanders for about two millennia from the Bronze Age until the evacuation of the remaining 36 in 1930. The sturdy and resourceful islanders were tenants of various Scottish aristocrats in more recent history. They lived in the one village settlement and survived on sea birds, plucked from the cliffs by skill and daring, plus sheep meat and a small variety of vegetables and arable crops.

The sense of community was very strong. They had their own daily “Parliament” where the men allocated work and ensured weaker residents were looked after. They survived many long winters when force ten gales batter the islands for weeks on end. (Indeed there were reports of temporary deafness brought on by the continuous storms).

But in the end the modern world enticed many young St Kildans to seek their fortunes elsewhere, depleting population numbers to unsustainably low levels. After a fallow period following the evacuation, since 1957 the Ministry of Defence has had a (latterly) rocket monitoring base on the main island, Hirta, which was refurbished recently at a cost of a reputed £14 million. Nowadays the rota of MOD staff on Hirta is supplemented by a small number of rangers and scientific researchers.

After about five years of planning and failed attempts to visit St Kilda, I finally made it to the islands last month. Bear in mind that the trip out takes at least three hours in a boat and is highly “weather dependent”. In the event I was extremely lucky – some might say “highly jammy”. I managed to get out (without sea sickness) to St Kilda for my four planned days in, at times, excellent weather and enjoy at least two of those days in reasonable seclusion.

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Delivering blue letters

Yesterday I took the train to Tiverton to help Richard Foord in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election.

I helped to deliver the blue letters from Richard in time for the postal ballots which started arriving the day after.

The Tiverton sub-HQ is very well located near the centre of town, next to Morrisons. It is a very spacious and modern facility with one of the best loos I have ever seen at a by-election office. And I’ve seen a few! There was also a great range of soft drinks, teas and coffees on offer. It all seemed very organised and busy. The HQ itself is at Honiton.

We are most fortunate to have an excellent candidate in Richard.

The letter from Richard emphasises the cost of living crisis that is causing real hardship across and people being continuously let down by this Conservative government.

We’ve a real chance to win Tiverton and Honiton. Please do what you can to help Richard and his team.

The following website gives details of how you can help including from your home via a Maraphone:

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The courage of Ukrainians should truly humble us

The Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island had a while to think about their response to a Russian warship demanding that they lay down their arms.

Several years in fact.

There can’t be much to do at such a border post, apart from contemplate your potential enemy and the day of reckoning that might finally arrive.

So their response of “Russian warship – go to hell”, or alternatively fruity translation, was spoken in full awareness of the potential consequences.

We’ve seen similar awe-inspiring bravery and defiance from President Zelenskyy to ordinary pensioners berating Russian soldiers.

And what for?

What are they fighting for?

A large parcel of land where they and their ancestors have lived.

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Boris: “One wheel on my wagon and I’m still rolling along”

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Note: To balance out the motifs presented in the song mentioned here, you may like to visit the websites of The Native American Rights Fund and/or Native Americans in Philantrophy

Following up on Andy’s great post this morning, readers of a certain age will recall a song called “Three wheels on my wagon” by the New Christy Minstrels. You can listen to it via YouTube below. It’s a cracker.

The singer, in the persona of an American “pioneer”, describes “singing a happy song” as a wheel comes off his wagon, while he is chased by a band of arrow-firing “Cherokees” who are intent on killing the singer and his fellow wagon passengers.

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