Author Archives: Paul Walter

Doesn’t Rishi Sunak pay people to stop him doing stunts like this?

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With Boris, I often thought that all you needed to know about him is the state of his hair. Having been brought up in a household of seven males, we had the morning hair procedure drummed into us. A bit of water, a comb, and do it nicely. All seven of us did it everyday and that was that. We carried a comb in our back pocket to neaten the old barnet during the day. So if someone in public life can’t master the hair neatening procedure then one begins to wonder if they are fit for office.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Postcard from Cheadle

(Above from left to right) Volunteer Colin Eldridge, PPC Tom Morrison and Councillor Mark Jones in Gatley’s Church Road yesterday.

This week I spent a couple of days helping our campaign in Cheadle.

It was great to get stuck in to delivering Focii in the streets of Greater Manchester.

Posted in Campaign Corner | Tagged and | 2 Comments

How our Lib Dem MPs voted on the Tobacco and Vapes Bill (2nd reading)

After a long and thorough debate, the Second Reading of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill has just been overwhelmingly passed by the House of Commons – the voting was 383 for and 67 against.

This is the Bill that will make it illegal for people born in or after 2009 to buy tobacco products in the UK.

Posted in Parliament | Tagged | 40 Comments

Ed Davey: I will vote for lifelong tobacco purchase ban and I hope it passes

There was a twelve minute interview with Ed Davey this morning on BBC Breakfast. Twelve minutes!

You can watch the interview here – move the slider to 01:30:15 (just under halfway through) to see the start.

The exchange started with the news, highlighted by the LibDems, that 72% of car thefts were not attended by the police last year. Ed said the Conservatives are “asleep at the wheel on crime” and that the LibDems would tackle the shortage of detectives.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 39 Comments

Lib Dem April fools sail closer to the truth?

Well done to Lib Dem Voice editorial team member Mary Reid, who once again excelled at the subtle April Fools post on this website. “Another bank holiday?” stimulated about 30 comments debating the whys and wherefores of Bank Holidays and Saint Days, down to a spat about the pronunciation of “Æthelthryth”. We did think that proposing a variable bank holiday for the Prime Minister’s Birthday and one for Flora Poil, the “Victorian social reformer” might give the game away.

Party President Mark Pack had me going with his news that the party has a new phone app for leaflet delivery. The article was typically Mark Packish in its attention to detail. It was when I got to the paragraph about leaflet orientation that I checked the date of the article:

But the very best part of the app is the set of icons that appear as you approach each letterbox on your delivery round. Behind the scenes, Connect data (supplemented by data from Wintringham 1) and demographic information from public sources such as the census is used to tell you which way round to orient the leaflet: is the person likely to be at home, and so the leaflet should land on the doormat headline towards the door so that they can easily read it when they come to the door, or is the person likely to be away, and so the leaflet should land headline away from the door, so it’s facing the right way when they come home?

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 5 Comments

Voluntary vacancy on key federal committee

Photo by Jon BallA vacancy is being advertised by the party for a seat on the Federal Finance and Resources Committee.

This is a key committee which scrutinises the party’s accounts, in co-operation with HQ staff. It also examines the way the party’s resources, including employees, are being deployed. For both subjects, the group spots areas where improvement is needed and monitors progress. Decisions are made relative the handling of the party’s money and people.

I’ve served on this committee. I enjoyed working in collaboration with the party’s excellent staff and was able to use some of the knowledge and experience I garnered during a career in operational finance.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 1 Comment

Big swing to Lib Dems in Sheffield Hallam (by-election results 2)

The victorious Sheffield team last night

Congratulations to new councillor Will Sapwell, who won the Stannington by-election yesterday in Sheffield Hallam constituency. And what a great swing from Labour…


Thank you to Thillainathan Haren for being the Lib Dem candidate in Tooting Broadway, Wandsworth, London:

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

By-election results 1 – Conservatives lose last seat in Richmond

There were six principal authority council by-elections yesterday, and there were Liberal Democrat candidates in all those contests.

After winning 39 of the 54 seats in Richmond-upon-Thames in 2014, the Tories yesterday lost their last seat on the council!:

We also held a second seat up for grabs in the borough last night:

This is part one of our by-election coverage this week – you can find part two here.

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Annie Nightingale – fantastic, brave radio pioneer

It’s worth listening to the Desert Island Discs of DJ Annie Nightingale, who passed away this week (not least because it contains one of the best put-downs of the Daily Mail ever).

I first started listening to Annie Nightingale when she did “Sounds of the 70s” on Radio 1 in the evenings with Alan Black. It was a revelation in radio, not least because it was a rare Radio 1 show in crystal clear stereo FM. The music and sensible presentation style just seemed so refreshing, in contrast to the saccharin daytime output of Radio 1.

Posted in Op-eds | 1 Comment

Aotearoa New Zealand pivots….backwards?

The Aotearoa New Zealand Parliament in Wellington

Visiting close family, I have recently been privileged to visit Aotearoa New Zealand.

Several things I saw impressed on me, once again, as to how forward-looking the country has been and is.

We visited the Auckland Women’s Suffrage Memorial which commemorates the successful 1893 petition which made Aotearoa New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world to enshrine in law the right for women to vote in parliamentary elections. Similarly, in Wellington there were several prominent streets and memorials named after Kate Sheppard, the leading suffragist.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

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?”

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

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.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 17 Comments

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)

2015.

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

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.

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 14 Comments

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

Over on newburytoday.co.uk, 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:

Posted in Obituaries | Leave a comment

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”.

Posted in Humour | Tagged | 2 Comments

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

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:

Posted in LibLink | 9 Comments
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