Author Archives: Paul Walter

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 (Stacker.com) 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: https://www.richardfoord.org.uk/action

Posted in Campaign Corner | Tagged | 3 Comments

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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