Author Archives: Paul Walter

UK participation in Eurovision 2019 in Israel would condone “outrageous human rights violations”

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I’m just back from Lisbon where I was lucky enough to have a stageside position for the Eurovision Song Contest last Saturday. Apart from a nasty stage invasion during Surie’s performance (with which she dealt brilliantly), the whole thing went without a hitch.

Portugal were Eurovision Song Contest entrants for 53 years before they won it in 2017. As a result, they were desperate to welcome everybody to their country and to put on a fantastic experience. That they did. Apart from anything else, Lisbon must have been the most LGBT+ friendly capital city in the world during the last week or so.

This was a “bucket list” trip for me. A one-off. Any temptation to become an annual Eurovision camp follower was cut short with the prospect of a 2019 contest in Israel.

From a musical point of view, Israel deserved to win last Saturday. The scoring system is, nowadays, fairly balanced between national juries and the vote of viewers throughout the 42 participating countries. So, they won fair and square.

On Sunday I was resolved to resist any 2019 Eurovision trip to Israel. While I might one day tour Palestine, Israel and Jordan as a triplet itinerary, visiting specifically Israel for Eurovision would feel like condoning injustice.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Dr Michael Thrasher: “The Lib Dems have a strong basis for saying they are back.”


Dr Michael Thrasher has said on Sky News:

You would have to say the Lib Dems have done well.. The Lib Dems have a strong basis for saying they are back.

Hat-tip: Commenter, Michael1.


Posted in News | Tagged and | 2 Comments

+++We’re now up 75 seats and four councils!




From the BBC summary at 18:21 with 149 of 150 councils declared:
Labour 2296 up 55
Tories 1330 down 26
Lib Dems 536 up 75
Greens 39 up 8
UKIP 3 down 123
Others 142 up 11

We have gained control of Richmond, Kingston, Three Rivers and South Cambridgeshire and won the Mayoralty of Watford.

Posted in News | Tagged | 17 Comments

+++Lib Dems gain control of Kingston!



As intimated in my earlier post, it has now been confirmed that the Lib Dems have taken control of Kingston from the Tories – we won 39 seats to their 9!


Posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

+++Lib Dems gain control of Kingston

As intimated in my earlier post, it has now been confirmed that the Lib Dems have taken control of Kingston from the Tories – we won 39 seats to their 9!

As we reported earlier, we have also taken control of Three Rivers, South Cambridgeshire and Richmond.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

+++ We’re now 76 seats up


The BBC now have these results after 146/150 councils declared:

Labour 2239 seats – up 58
Conservative 1319 seats – down 21 (no wonder they got their celebration in early)
Liberal Democrats 516 seats – up 69
Greens 35 seats – up 5
UKIP 3 seats – down 123
Other 142 seats – up 12

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Last night it looked good, today it’s not looking bad either :-)


The BBC summarises the local election results so far as follows:

Labour 1837 seats – up 58
Conservative 1230 seats – up 7
Liberal Democrats 444 seats – up 49
Greens 34 seats – up 5
UKIP 3 seats – down 121
Other 142 seats – up 16

Posted in News | Tagged | 9 Comments

Christine Jardine MP: Last week’s Commons debate confirms natural majority for the customs union


From the back of an agricultural vehicle used to transport shooters, Christine Jardine MP addresses the gathered throng in a barn in South Fawley, North Berkshire

Well, it was certainly a venue to remember. Yesterday, deep in the North Berkshire countryside, in a barn on a farm in South Fawley, local people gathered to hear Christine Jardine MP, who had driven all the way from Edinburgh for the occasion. In order to project her voice over the seated audience, Christine mounted the back of handy large agricultural vehicle. She said she felt a bit like President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who famously addressed campaign crowds from the back of a train. (And yes, we know – “Jumping on the bandwagon…” – we got there before you).

Judith Bunting hosted the event, which was entitled “The Power of Creativity and Brexit“.

Posted in Speeches | 4 Comments

Brexit: No cake, but let’s welcome the prospect of a nice big bit of fudge!

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Along, I’m sure, with many LDV readers, I’ve read hundreds of articles on the subject of Brexit over the last couple of years.

But one piece of writing has finally encapsulated a precise sensible solution to the whole sordid, messy business.

David Shariatmadari is a writer and editor for the Guardian in London. In a post yesterday entitled “On Brexit, the views of the 48% must be respected too. That’s democracy”, he argued that:

Given that the UK is split, it’s only fair if the government delivers ‘Brexit in name only’, as is looking increasingly likely.

After explaining that the Irish impasse will probably lead to the UK “both in a customs union and closely, if not entirely, aligned with the single market”, he concludes:

Posted in Op-eds | 50 Comments

+++Three Lib Dem by-election gains from the Tories tonight


We’ve been live posting some of the results tonight but here are the headlines:

The Liberal Democrats have picked up three seats from the Tories in today’s by-election results:

Posted in Council by-elections | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Thatcham West by-election results – Live post to be updated as the results come in

There were two by-elections in Thatcham West, Berkshire today.One was for West Berkshire Council, caused by the disqualification due to non-attendance of a Conservative councillor. The councillor in question also resigned from Thatcham Town Council causing a second by-election on the same day.

Here’s the turnout numbers from West Berkshire Council:

This post will be updated as the results come in.

Posted in Council by-elections | Tagged | Leave a comment

++Stunning win for Dr Kate O’Kelly in Chichester and two other encouraging first-time performances in yesterday’s by-elections


Many congratulations to Dr Kate O’Kelly and the team for a superb win in the Rogate by-election for Chichester District Council yesterday! This was the first time that the Lib Dems have contested this seat in eleven years, and my goodness what a stunning performance going from zero to 55.8% of the vote!

Posted in Council by-elections | Tagged and | 17 Comments

We’ve given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations


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As Lib Dems we have campaigned long and hard for curbs on the government’s power to snoop on our internet data.

Yet, most of us (not all) have personally given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations – namely Facebook and Google.

I know, I have checked on my data held by Facebook and Google. You can do it too. Facebook had all my photos, posts, friends etc etc going back to February 2007. The data was 354 megabytes in size. That’s equivalent to 71 copies of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 12 Comments

Vince explains his ‘blue, white and pink’ remark

Vince Cable was on robust form this morning, being interviewed by John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme. He commented on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s statement that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” regarding the country’s deficit.

Vince acknowledged that the government is roughly in balance on its day-to-day spending. He said, however, that the government would be very foolish to assume that they have turned the corner and that there’s no need to worry about the country’s finances. He added that the government should take advantage of its low lending rate to invest in the economy.

Vince explained his speech in Southport yesterday. Humprhys focussed on this statement from Vince, referring to Brexit voters:

Too many were driven by nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 35 Comments

The secret world of Whitehall – and other BBC Michael Cockerell gems


British Houses of Parliament
If you’ve missed them when they were originally broadcast, YouTube has a wealth of BBC political documentaries for you to watch at leisure.

I missed Michael Cockerell’s “The Secret World of Whitehall” when it was originally broadcast. All three programmes from the series are on YouTube in full:

Episode 1 – The Real Sir Humphrey – This looks at the role of the Cabinet Secretary, chronicling the historic evolution of the role through its various job holders.

Posted in TV and film | Tagged and | 1 Comment

A longer read for the weekend… Sir John Major’s stunning speech on Brexit in full

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We don’t often feature speeches from members of other parties. But this speech made on Wednesday by Sir John Major is worth reading through in full. The text was published by the Mirror. At the bottom of the text is a video of the speech from the Guardian channel on YouTube:

I would like to express my thanks to the Creative Industries Federation, Somerset House Trust, and Tech London Advocates for the opportunity to speak here today.

Brexit matters to our creative industries. They express our culture and values – but give so much more.

Posted in Speeches | Tagged and | 1 Comment

The 2017 general election – the much overlooked rebalancing of British democracy

The British Election Study has been issuing data concerning the 2017 election based on their “face-to-face” process. They maintain, for example, that the much-acclaimed “Youthquake” of 2017 was in fact a myth.

But I was very interested in this graph, tweeted by James Kanagasooriam:

There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this graph. Much has been made of the fact that the Tories had quite a chunk of Remainers voting for them – particularly in the South of the country.

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

Vince Cable wishes you a Happy New Year!

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Vince Cable says:

I would like to wish a Happy New Year to our friends and members of the Chinese community in the UK and to all who celebrate Lunar New Year during this time of year. May it be a time of great joy and celebration with family and friends.

The Chinese community have long established roots in the UK, whether coming from Hong Kong, South East Asia or from the People’s Republic of China. Your contributions enrich the cultural life of all Britons, enhance our professions and bolster our economy.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

+++Three stonking by-election gains from the Tories plus whopping vote share increases – “something is happening out there”

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP’s tweet nicely summarises the good news tonight:

Well done and congratulations to all the teams involved!

In detail, there was a stonking gain from the Tories in Teignbridge:

Posted in News | Tagged | 9 Comments

Are “Just-in-time” supply chains evil?

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It is strange what topics come up at an annual Liberal Democrat dinner, but this topic, in the post title above, came up at one I attended last week.

It’s a big subject.

First of all, we need to be clear what “Just-in-time” actually means. It is a phrase which is bandied about so that it sometimes ceases to have any precise meaning.

In its purest,original sense, Just-in-time refers to Just-in-time manufacturing, as defined by Wikipedia:

Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, also known as just-in-time production or the Toyota Production System (TPS), is a methodology aimed primarily at reducing flow times within production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. Its origin and development was in Japan, largely in the 1960s and 1970s and particularly at Toyota.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Vince Cable joins rally to press for international students to be excluded from migration figures

Photo: Geoff Caddick/PA

Yesterday the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, joined academics, students, business leaders and other politicians at a rally in support of international students. London Frist’s “Stand up don’t be counted” campaign aims to take students out of the UK’s net migration target.

The photo above shows Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, Paul Currran, President of City University, Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Tulip Siddiq MP attending the rally in Torrington Square, London.

The government aims to reduce net migration to under 100,000 people each year. In London alone, international students bring a net benefit of £2.3 billion per annum and support 70,000 jobs in the capital.

New data released by the organisers of the event, business group London First, shows the majority of people (57%) believe that international students should not be included in the government’s net migration target, with less than one in three people (31%) thinking they should be included.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

“A back of a fag packet speech” – Tom Brake on today’s Boris speech

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Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson, Tom Brake has responded pithily to Boris Johnson’s speech on Brexit:

Boris Johnson is completely deluded about Brexit. This speech wasn’t about the most important issue facing our country right now, this was about Boris’ ambitions to become the next Prime Minister, and it probably wasn’t much help on that front either.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

In praise of Parish Councils

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This is a rather unfocussed post, but I just wanted to give a shout-out for Parish Councils.

One of our number here at LDV Towers, Mark Valladares, writes a blog called Liberal Bureaucracy. One of its main subjectival strands is Mark’s role as a parish councillor. Just leafing through some of the post titles gives one an excellent flavour of parish council life:

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Janet Fookes’ winning ways – and they had nothing to do with her red hair!

Last week on t’internet, a toe-curling interview from 1970 (above) was doing the rounds.

It featured a newly elected MP speaking on the BBC election night TV programme.

Nothing unusual about that, except that it was – GASP! – a woman MP!!!!!!!

The behaviour, during and after the appearance of Janet Fookes, of Robin Day and Cliff Michelmore gave whole new meaning to the word “patronising”.

So I thought it would be a good idea to balance things out.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

On BBC Newsnight, Vince explains why hard Brexit is anything but liberal

On BBC 2’s Newsnight last night, Vince made a very good job of laying out why a hard Brexit is far from liberal:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 11 Comments

John Stuart Mill would have supported hard Brexit, says Boris

From the Guardian:

The foreign secretary called (the EU) a “teleological construction” that was “ends driven”. He said the founding fathers of the common market decided to create a “new sense of political identity by legal means” – but claimed this went against liberal thinking. “(John Stuart) Mill would say that the national group, the group that most associate with each other, govern each other. But this was a new idea to try to transcend that.”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 41 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – British cross-border supply chains will be strangled by hard Brexit red tape

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Writing in the i newspaper, Nick Clegg says that any chance of Soft Brexit has been killed off by Theresa May. Instead, MPs will be faced with the choice of a hard Brexit or no Brexit.

Nick Clegg hits the nail on the head when he describes how modern cross-border supply chains will be destroyed by a hard Brexit:

It cannot be said enough: the Brexit this Government is determined to impose on this country cannot under any circumstances avoid the introduction of extensive new barriers, costs and frictions to trade with our largest trading partners.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Vintage election nights: the time a painter had to come on screen to extend the Swingometer

I have always remembered the classic moment when, during the BBC general election night TV coverage of 1970, a painter had to be brought on to extend the swingometer. This was because the Conservative swings were unexpectedly high, and the swingometer didn’t go far enough to cover some of them.

In these days of high tech, it is difficult to believe that such a thing happened. Indeed, as I have recalled the incident over the years, I don’t think many people have believed me.

Posted in General Election and TV and film | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Whodathunkit? Michael Portillo says David Lloyd George is a hero of his

Michael Portillo has bought a brand new red “pixelated” jacket for a new series of “British Railway Journies”, available on BBC iPlayer.

Posted in Liberal History | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Can you name these three animals? Congratulations! Your cognitive skills could be up there with the US President


I said the other day that the “Fire and Fury” book has lowered expectations about Donald Trump:

When you read of the dysfunction and chaos in his White House, it then comes as a pleasant surprise when you hear Donald Trump stringing a basic, reasonably coherent sentence together without falling over the furniture and dribbling.

Well, this week the results of Trump’s annual medical tests were released. There seems to be considerable relief that his tests, at least according to the lead medic, Dr Ronny Jackson, gave good results. As far as Mr Trump’s cognitive abilities are concerned, Dr Jackson said:

The president is mentally very sharp, very intact.

Posted in Humour | Tagged | 5 Comments
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