Author Archives: Paul Walter

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: https://www.richardfoord.org.uk/action

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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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+++Physical conference returns to your actual Brighton next autumn

The chair of the party’s conference committee, Nick de Costa, has made this announcement:

I can announce that the dates for autumn 2022 conference will be: 17-20 September 2022 at the Brighton Centre.

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North Shropshire: We’re using actual staples on our leaflets so this is serious


I’m just resting up before another blitz of Focii-ing in North Shropshire early this morning.

The constituency is similar to Brecon and Radnorshire in that you can drive for what seems like hours and still see orange posters, denoting that you are still in the constituency. – A vast and beautiful rural area with some wonderful towns.

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Ed Davey replies robustly to a Tory MP’s enquiry about our selection procedures

Philip Davies MP recently wrote to Ed Davey enquiring about the Liberal Democrats’ internal selection procedures.

Ed’s reply is a joy to behold! It is worth reading the correspondence in full.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 8 Comments

UPDATED: Commons committees’ report says government’s Covid response was “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”

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The “Lessons learnt to date” report has been published by two key House of Commons committees.

It says the government’s early planning was based on a risk assessment that a pandemic would result in 100 deaths and be like flu: “the likelihood of an emerging infectious disease spreading within the UK is assessed to be lower than that of a pandemic flu”.

It lists a catalogue of errors concluding:

…decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic – and the advice

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News item related to LBC, James O’Brien and the Institute of Economic Affairs

Readers may be interested in the Guardian story entitled “LBC’s James O’Brien wins Ofcom battle with Institute of Economic Affairs“:

The Institute of Economic Affairs has lost a two-year battle with LBC radio presenter James O’Brien over claims the registered charity is a politically motivated lobbying organisation funded by “dark money”.

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PHOTO FEATURE: Chesham and Amersham by-election

It seems timely to show some of the excellent Getty Images which are available, depicting the Chesham and Amersham campaign. Scroll down to view them all or click on them individually to view them within the Getty Images website.

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WATCH: Sarah Green is sworn into Parliament


It was a big occasion yesterday! After an announcement by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Sir Ed Davey escorts in Sarah Green, who bows three times and then swears the oath of allegiance in English and Welsh. (Sarah is the second consecutive MP for Chesham and Amersham who is Welsh-born). She then signs the register and is congratulated by the Speaker, while a cheer goes up. Wonderful stuff!

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Chesham & Amersham: what the Spectator said on Monday

Nick Tyrone – that’s T-Y-R-O-N-E – concludes the article as follows:

Instead, the Lib Dems will lose on Thursday, most likely fairly badly, and they will have no one to blame but themselves. If they want to get back to being the by-election masters of old, they will have to do a lot better than this.

You can read the full article here: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-lib-dems-are-utterly-lost

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Chesham and Amersham: the swing was 25.1%

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Chesham & Amersham: the fine print result

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Chesham & Amersham: Ed Davey hails huge victory

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Chesham & Amersham election results since the seat was created

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Chesham & Amersham: Sarah Green’s victory speech

In a confident speech earlier this morning, Sarah Green said she was humbled by the faith the people of Chesham and Amersham had placed in her.

Together, we have said enough is enough. We will be heard. And this government will listen.

No matter how safe the seat, you can have a Lib Dem representative.

Sarah had a message for young women. Don’t let people put you down or block your way. You can. You must. You will.

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Chesham & Amersham: This isn’t a dream is it?

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Chesham & Amersham: Video from the count

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Chesham & Amersham: Thank you!

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Chesham & Amersham: That stunning, historic result in full

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Chesham & Amersham: Majority is 8,028!!!!!!!!!!! – ITV news

From ITV News:

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Chesham & Amersham: Congrats Sarah Green MP!!!!!

Let’s just say that this has woken me up!

8K!!!!! I’ll be saying that in my sleep for the next six months!!

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+++++Chesham & Amersham: Lib Dems win the by-election!!

Sky News have just said this.

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Going down to the wire at Chesham & Amersham

Today I again went to Chesham & Amersham to help Sarah Green and team. I helped to deliver targeted letters to residents in Great Missenden and Chalfont Saint Peter.

My task was greatly assisted by my excellent co-deliverers, Baroness (Liz) Barker and Mukta Patil from Chesham & Amersham Young Liberals. They both greatly helped in plotting our various routes and in making the task a great pleasure in the sunshine! The selfie above shows us with our suitably coloured conveyance!

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Sir Nick Clegg lecture: “The end of global internet”

The Shirley Williams Lectures are now getting well into their stride. On Wednesday evening we had the honour of welcoming Nick Clegg direct from Atherton, California USA.

It was the day of Facebook’s AGM, so a busy one for Nick.

I was very impressed by Nick’s lecture, which was delivered flawlessly from notes.

After paying a very warm and heartfelt tribute to Baroness Williams, Nick outlined how he regards 1989 as the key year in his life. The Berlin Wall fell and Tim Berners-Lee invented the Worldwide Web.

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , and | 22 Comments

Chesham and Amersham needs YOU

Maddi Crickmay, Liberal Democrat Youth and Student Development Officer and Shrewsbury Councillor Alex Wagner at Amersham party HQ today

I spent today helping Sarah Green‘s campaign at Amersham.

What a great day! I don’t think I have had such a beautiful delivery round since the heady days of Littleborough and Saddleworth in 1995.

Then, I had to walk several miles up to a farmhouse to deliver one leaflet. But it was blazing sunshine and the surroundings were idyllic – so I didn’t mind.

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How easily we have surrendered our private freedoms….

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On Sunday we had a visit from a relative in the garden at a two metre distance.

On Monday they kindly returned and we hugged several times.

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Tories’ southern “Blue wall” is crumbling

In the Independent today, Daisy Cooper MP says:

The Tory Blue Wall has started crumbling in this election as the Liberal Democrats move forward in Tory former heartlands.

From Cheltenham to Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire to Woking, nowhere is safe for the Tories in their Blue Wall. The age of no-go areas for the Liberal Democrats in traditionally Tory southern cities towns and villages is over.

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Scrapping Vagrancy Act should be part of Queen’s Speech

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Layla Moran has put this very well:

Today it’s still the law for rough sleepers to be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of not being able to afford a roof over their head. It’s a moral outrage that a Victorian-era law continues to punish those who desperately need help.

The clock is ticking for this Government. We urgently need a more compassionate and holistic approach to ending homelessness in this country. There is significant cross-party support for the Vagrancy Act to be repealed as

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