Author Archives: Paul Walter

I don’t think we’ve heard the last from this guy….

Beto O’Rourke gave Ted Cruz a run for his money in the recent race for the Texan US Senate seat. He comes from the border town of El Paso.



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A fresh new voice in Washington DC

Ilhan Omar has just been elected as US Representative for the 5th district of Minnesota. Along with Rashida Tlaib, elected for Michigan’s 13th district, she is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to the US Congress.



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Even through bleary eyes, I can see a blue wave

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Well, I’ve stayed up, clicking refresh like a hyper-ventilated gerbil for the last six hours, so you didn’t have to….

The Democrats have comfortably won control of the House. The Republicans have gained ground in the Senate. The Democrats have so far flipped four governor’s mansions, including in Kansas, where Laura Kelly beat Kris Kobach.

Is it is a Blue wave? Taegan Goddard of Political Wire says it is, quoting some convincing figures. The New York Times estimates the Democrat vote margin, based on nationwide House votes, as +7.6%. These last elections were considered “waves”:

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged and | 18 Comments

House of Lords questions: Young mental health, the post-Brexit Promised Land and the interloper in the dining room

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House of Lords “Oral questions” don’t get a lot of publicity. However, they happen every weekday when the House is in session. All the seats tend to be full – most of the peers are “on parade”. Some pithy debates do take place.

It is very easy to dismiss the House of Lords but it is one half of our bicameral parliamentary system and has a lot of influence. There is a form of civility in the Lords which does not come over in the Commons during its more active sessions (e.g. PMQs). There is reasonably intelligent debate and some passion. There is also collegiate teamwork. There is very little intervention from the Lord Speaker.

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No Vince, I don’t want a “Gina Miller-type figure” parachuted in to be our leader (and it’s not worth a special conference)

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The Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool. It was here in 1988 that a special Liberal party conference was held to decide to merge the party with the SDP*

One of the frustrating things about the debate over Vince’s two constitutional proposals** is that I am yet to hear Vince come out and actually outline why they are needed. This is maddening. It is especially maddening because I greatly respect Vince and normally he is very good at articulating ideas and proposals.

Instead, we have vague “smoke and mirrors” mutterings about somebody out there circling the political scene with a vast shedload of money which they want to chuck at a “centre movement”. We have got to pull up our socks and be part of this “movement”. And we only have two months to do it, because otherwise we’ll miss the boat and the shedload of cash will go to someone else. We’ve got to be like Justin Trudeau and the Canadian Liberals. We need to allow someone like Gina Miller to come in and lead the party so that people see us as a new centrist movement.

Well, this is all vague nonsense. Vince, or someone, should come out and be specific about all this. Who is this person (or people) with the money? What do they want? Name the people who could be our leader outside of the House of Commons – not just now – name anyone in the last fifty years outside the Commons who could have had a shot at being our leader.

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“Brexit is not inevitable. It can be stopped.” – People’s Vote march: ‘700,000’ rally for new Brexit referendum

Here’s a selection of other tweets from today’s march:

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Book review: “Fear” by Bob Woodward


“Fear” by Bob Woodward traces Donald Trump’s campaign to be US President from March 2010, then follows his Presidency until March 2018.

This is a very readable book. The text is set out with plenty of space between the lines, so that it feels like an “easy read”. The chapters are organised by subject, often looking at policy areas in turn. It is skilfully concise. I found it a “page turner”.

It is a serious book. Scores of “deep background” interviews of White House insiders were carefully transcribed and used. There are 28 pages of sources quoted. As Clive James once quipped:

Woodward checks his facts until they weep with boredom.

This is not a rag-bag collection of tales told out of school about Trump. It is a sober record of Trump’s campaign and the first fifteen months of his presidency. Woodward describes the White House process of policy evolution in such depth that the reader emerges with a better understanding of the Trump presidency.

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Michael Palin’s superb documentary on North Korea

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Channel 5 have surpassed themselves in presenting Michael Palin’s two-episode programme on his travels in North Korea.

It is a surprise to find the great Python on Channel Five, but the show reminds one of his enormous skill at presenting charming and informed pictures of foreign places.

Palin makes clear, up front, that he and his crew went where they were allowed and an “entourage” of five or six North Korean government officials accompanied them, supervising their filming and every word said on camera.

Posted in TV and film | Tagged | 3 Comments

Liberal Democrat Voice fringe meeting: Trans rights are human rights

The panel at our fringe: from left to right: Back row: Caron Lindsay, Liberal Democrat Voice editor (Chair), Sarah Brown, LGBT+ Lib Dems, James Morton, Scottish Transgender Alliance, Emma Ritch, Engender and, front row, Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat President.

Most of you may notice the odd advert on Liberal Democrat Voice. These help LDV to contribute to the Conference Access Fund, making it easier for those of modest means to attend Lib Dem conferences. With the advert funds, we also sponsor or host fringe meetings at conference.

At Brighton on Saturday, we hosted a fringe meeting in the Hilton hotel entitled: “Transgender and intersex rights – spotlight on the media”. This fringe meeting reflected something we feel very strongly about at LDV Towers: that when people come to our fringe meetings they should be well fed and have good drinks! There were some very good nibbles and drinks at the back of the room.

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Conference motion: Reforming our party’s disciplinary processes

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There is now a superb summary of all the conference motions on the Liberal Democrat website. This allows you to see, at a glance, the final passed motions, incorporating any passed amendments.

One really important motion was that on the party disciplinary process.

This process was initiated by a motion at 2016 conference to review the party’s disciplinary processes. There have been reviews conducted by Helena Morrissey, Ken MacDonald and Isabelle Parasram. The review was delayed by the 2017 general election. The process was debated at the 2018 Spring Conference, where it was referred back for further work.

The Federal Board has appointed a steering group on Sexual Impropriety Complaints, as recommended by Isabelle Parasram.

The motion at the Brighton conference seeks to set up an independent disciplinary mechanism with trained adjudicators and investigators. There will be a strict logging process for complaints, with time limits for resolution.

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Jo Swinson’s speech to conference – in full

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Vince Cable’s speech today to the party conference in Brighton – in full

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Journalistic consensus is that Vince said “exotic spresm” instead of “erotic spasm”

“Check against delivery” is printed at the top of every pre-released speech. Vince’s speech today was advanced emailed with the phrase “erotic spasm” included – referring to the dreams of extreme Brexiters.

Posted in Conference | Tagged | 32 Comments

Why are there giant snails around Brighton? #bemoresnail

Members hurrying from conference chamber to fringe meeting hall in Brighton have asked the question:

Why are there giant colourful snail sculptures dotted around Brighton?

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Gina Miller, the next leader of the Liberal Democrats – not

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Gina Miller, businessperson and Brexit campaigner, just received a long and strong standing ovation, after delivering a spirited speech at the party conference in Brighton.

Ms Miller was quick to quash media reports that she might be angling to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats. Those rumours have presumably been spread by people who know absolutely nothing about our party.

Posted in Conference | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Federal People Development Committee explains supporters proposal

Last night at 6:15pm I went to the truly vast Oxford hall within the Brighton Hilton. You could almost hold the FA Cup Final in the Oxford Hall, it is so big.

There was an excellent meeting, chaired by Miranda Roberts, which explained the supporters proposal.

Miranda is the chair of the Federal People Development Committee. She took us through the process. There was a briefing on a similar scheme in Canada and within the UK Which consumer organisation.

Posted in Conference | 6 Comments

Greenham Common: A unique reminder of the Cold War opens to the public


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Over the weekend, Greenham Common Control Tower opened to the public as a permanent visitor centre, set up to share the story of Greenham Common.

Greenham and Crookham Commons cover a thousand acres of open, public land in Berkshire. Inhabited in prehistoric times and used for cattle grazing for centuries, the Commons were turned into an airfield in 1942 and used by the RAF and USAAF during the Second World War. The airfield was used a springboard for glider-borne troops landing in France on D-Day. General (later, President) Eisenhower visited the troops at Greenham on the eve of D-Day and made his famous “The Eyes of the world are upon you” speech there.

But, perhaps, Greenham’s most famous period was during the Cold War from 1951 to 1992. The runway was extended to 12,000 feet long in 1980. This was thought to be the longest aircraft runway in Europe at the time. The base was home to many aircraft, most notably the B-47 Stratojets, which were capable of routinely flying 3,000 mile long missions. Around 4,000 American air personnel and their families lived at Greenham at its height. The base was effectively a US town. They drove on the right and had their US groceries flown in from the States by Galaxy transport plane.

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India’s demonetisation: a monumental cock-up

Imagine if Theresa came on live TV at three o’clock this afternoon to say that, from seven o’clock this evening, all five and ten pound notes will be banned and cease to have any value as free currency.

There would be mayhem.

Now imagine if such an action was taken in a country with a population twenty times that of the UK, with an economy that is almost entirely cash-based – with virtually no card or internet transactions.

Well that is what happened in India in 2016. I was there just a few days after the announcement. I wrote a “Postcard from India” for LDV, which said:

…we arrived just a couple days after a major monetary change by the government. To wrong-foot terrorists and criminals, there has been a monumentally huge exercise called “demonetisation”, going on across this, the second most populous nation in the world. All the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes have been withdrawn from circulation at two hours’ notice.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

Vince refers to “false rumours” and says “I’m not stepping down anytime soon”

On his Facebook page, Vince Cable has said:

There have been false rumours lately. As this statement says, I’m not stepping down anytime soon.

He’s linked to this article in the Independent

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable is not planning to quit the party “any time soon”, party sources have said after reports he will use a September speech to announce he is stepping down.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Paddy gives short shrift to tyrant-slaying boast attributed to Brexit minister

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In yesterday’s Sunday Times (£) there was a report of an interview with Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. The interview was conducted by Tim Shipman and the report was entitled:

Dominic Raab: I saw off bully Slobodan Milosevic. Michel Barnier needs a softer touch

Now, I should preface this post with the proviso that The Times has form in regard to inaccurate précis via headline. It could be that the Sunday Times has now been infected with that dodgy headline disease.

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Reports: Vince Cable to stand down as party leader before 2022 and wants to see through party rule changes

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I see that there are a few media reports about this today. The first was in The Times (£), then the Express and Telegraph, and, this afternoon, the Guardian has followed with, perhaps, the most precisely worded article.

There is nothing on the Lib Dem Press Office Twitter feed about this, as I write. Also I don’t see a round robin email from the party about this. That suggests an element of “bouncing” in this story.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 73 Comments

Scottish LibDems support cross-community “People’s Vote” rally in Edinburgh


The Guardian reports:

Campaigners demanding a public vote on the final Brexit deal rallied in Edinburgh on Saturday to increase pressure on the UK government.

Backers of the so-called People’s Vote gathered in Festival Square to call for Theresa May’s deal on leaving the EU to be put to the electorate.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Fun holiday photo quiz: And the winner is…..

Thanks to everyone who took part in our fun quiz on Friday – and to those who thought about it but were stumped by it!

We showed the photo above, which I took on my recent holiday. We asked you to name the location of the photo, which was mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

The answer was Bergen railway station in Norway, which Jo Grimond, Liberal party leader 1956-1967, mentioned in his auto-biography (see below).

The first person to give the correct answer in our comments threads was Charles Dundas. Charles receives the accolade of “LDV Super Anorak” and a “very good” condition copy of Jo Grimond’s said memoirs.

Posted in Photo feature | Tagged | 4 Comments

Defence of Johnson amounts to a charter for the oppression of a vulnerable minority

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In defence of Boris Johnson’s remarks about the wearing of the burqa and the niqab, his supporters have replied: “You need to read the full article to see the context”. I have now read Johnson’s full article. That is ten minutes of my life I won’t get back. It is remarkable that he gets paid a King’s ransom for such tosh. More galling, he has been doing it (certainly up to 26th July, three weeks after he resigned from the government) at our expense from 1 Carlton Gardens.

David Yelland, who was Editor of the Sun from 1998 to 2003, has tweeted:


Shrouded amidst a rather generalised and vaguely creepy paeon of praise to Denmark, cloaked in criticism of their Burqa ban, was some very nasty and unnecessary verbiage. I quote here his whole passage with the particularly egregious words in bold, so that I can’t be accused of quoting Johnson out of context:

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Today’s fun quiz – an extra prize and some clues


It seems I have stumped the complete Liberal Democrat Voice readership with my fun photo quiz from this morning.

Here is a wider version of the scene pictured this morning. This should give you a clue as to the category of location that we are talking about…

I took this photo while on my holiday last week.

Can you guess where it was taken? It is a location mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

Another clue is that the Liberal MP in question was a leader of the Liberal Party.

Please use the comments …

Posted in Photo feature | 10 Comments

Fun holiday snap quiz – can you recognise the location mentioned in a famous Liberal’s autobiography?


I took this photo while on my holiday last week.

Can you guess where it was taken? It is a location mentioned wittily in a distinguished Liberal MP’s auto-biography.

Please use the comments field below to have a stab at the answer.

Comments will be held in our “pending” file until 3pm and then released to reveal the winner.

Posted in Photo feature | 2 Comments

Reporting Trump’s first year – fascinating insight into journalists on the ropes

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I have a guilty secret.

Every so often, I retreat to Greggs for a Steak Slice, sausage roll, cup of tea and a read of last Saturday’s New York Times.

I get quite excited by the Anglo-American mixture of it all.

Why last Saturday’s New York Times? – I don’t hear you cry.

Posted in TV and film | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Catastrophic supply chain risks of a “no deal” Brexit

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It’s not fashionable but I’m willing to put in a good word for Theresa May. Albeit unnecessarily and misguidedly, she has worked very patiently to stitch together some sort of tenuous British cabinet negotiating position for Brexit. You have to admire her patience. I was also impressed but some of her words when she announced the Chequers deal to parliament on July 9th:

The friction-free movement of goods is the only way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and it is the only way to protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which millions of jobs and livelihoods depend. So at the heart of our proposal is a UK-EU free trade area that will avoid the need for customs and regulatory checks at the border and protect those supply chains.

Those words suggested to me that Theresa May and her chief negotiator, Olly Robbins, have “got” just-in-time and how vital it is to our modern economy.

For a long time, whenever I tried to explain my career, I could see people’s eyes glazing over. Trying to explain in the pub that I worked in “logistics” was a concept only people who served in the army understood. I used to say I worked “in computers” instead. It was much easier. So, it is quite nice to finally see my career having some relevance to current affairs.

I spent 35 years working in IT supply chains. This involved relying on daily trucks from the Netherlands. Day after day. The crux of the job was to reduce inventory to a bare minimum, to maintain high service levels for the customer and to minimise cost. I spent those 35 years focussing laser-like on that subject – cost, service, inventory.

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Good weather to bury bad news?

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Whilst enjoying listening to the county cricket commentaries I watched the news yesterday with half an eye.

Hello – did they really just do that?….

…I thought.

Yes, the government dumped out a plethora of inconvenient announcements just as MPs packed their sandals and beach balls for the summer recess. (What West Wing viewers will know as “Take out the trash day”)

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

“Vote Leave broke electoral law” – EU referendum needs to be annulled and re-run

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I’m sure readers can think of examples where election results have been declared invalid by the courts and had to be re-run.

The classic example was the 1997 Winchester election. At the general election, the returning officer declared Mark Oaten the winner by two votes. The court accepted the former Tory MP’s case that the failure by the returning officer’s staff to stamp 55 ballot papers with an official mark, leading to their rejection, cost him a win – also by two votes.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 42 Comments
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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 16th Nov - 10:45pm
    To be frank, Congressman Cherin, I'm getting pretty fed up with people putting a gloss on things and pretending that a cruel disaster (UC) is...
  • User AvatarChris Bertram 16th Nov - 10:19pm
    I have seen an explanation of possible reasons for the Dursley result. I have copied them to the private forum, so if you want to...
  • User AvatarDavid Walsh 16th Nov - 9:53pm
    Great to hear this is available. Anything that brings down barriers, making things equal for all, is a step in the right direction. There's so...
  • User Avatarmarcstevens 16th Nov - 9:52pm
    Good results in all 3 seats except for Stroud DC where there was a collapse in vote share from 24.1%. It would be good to...
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 16th Nov - 9:52pm
    The day Charles Kennedy was forced to step down was the day I left the party.
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 16th Nov - 9:21pm
    @ David Raw. Yes, indeed. Surely someone from LDV should find out what went wrong in Stroud.