Author Archives: Paul Walter

Fresh police guidance says that it’s OK to drive a reasonable distance for exercise

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Following on from a couple of posts here about policing the Covid-19 restrictions, the police have been issued with fresh guidance on the matter, as reported by the Guardian:

Police chiefs have told officers that people should not be punished for driving a reasonable distance to exercise, and that blanket checks were disproportionate, in a bid to quell a row about heavy-handed enforcement of the coronavirus lockdown.

Amid anger at some forces setting up checkpoints and using drones to target people visiting rural beauty spots, the guidance reissued and updated late on Tuesday aims to forge more consistency across 44 forces in England and Wales.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 33 Comments

On thing we did really well for the 2019 general election – raising shedloads of dosh


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There is nothing quite as wonderful as money.
There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash.
Some people say it’s folly,
But I’d rather have the lolly.
With money you can make a splash.

Eric Idle (Monty Python), “The Money Song

If you haven’t already done so, it is worth having a look at the Electoral Commission’s reports of Q4 donations to the political parties.

The Liberal Democrat report is particularly fascinating.

Between 1 October and 31 December 2019, the party received donations totalling £13,372,664 from 433 donors. That is more than the Labour party received in the same period.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

How should we interpret the official advice as to whether a short drive to a walk is permissable?


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West Berkshire Liberal Democrat Councillor Tony Vickers has written the following on a public Coronavirus Facebook group:

I would contest the advice of TVP (Thames Valley Police). Where do these Regulations say anything about not using a car or limiting the distance one can travel to take exercise?

…There is some confusion about how to interpret the official advice on staying at home when it comes to one of the four allowed exceptions : to “do one form of exercise”. As the Council’s appointee on the Local Access Forum (LAF), which has a statutory duty to advise all public bodies on access to the countryside, I am personally interpreting this as follows. This advice only applies to people feeling well and with no special risk factors.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 34 Comments

In a liberal society, should police be using roadblocks and drones to enforce the virus lockdown?

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The Guardian reports that the police are using roadblocks and drones to enforce the virus lockdown:

Derbyshire police tweeted drone footage taken near Curbar Edge, in the Peak District, and said they had checked the numberplates of vehicles in the car park and found that some cars were registered to addresses in Sheffield, a 30-minute drive away.

…In North Yorkshire, police said they would set up checkpoints to determine if drivers’ journeys were essential. The move was being introduced to ensure motorists are complying with government restrictions, North Yorkshire police said.

Officers will be stopping vehicles and asking motorists where they are going, why they are going there, and reminding them of the message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” the force said in a statement. The checkpoints will be unannounced and could be anywhere across the county.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 57 Comments

Going ever-so-slightly “stir crazy”?


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We’re very fortunate to have modern communications technology in the current crisis.

Here’s a few ideas of things you could try to break up your days at home. Please use the comments to share any of your own ideas.

Yesterday, I did some very energetic exercises with Joe Wicks, the body coach. He is doing a 9am session aimed at children not at school, but it also suits adults and he is at pains to reassure people not to over do things and simplify the exercises if they are too strenuous.

Before yesterday, I had only ever seen Joe Wicks in photos on the front of his many books.

I have to say it was a pleasant surprise to hear his cheerful broad Essex accent and his very motivating chatter!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Can volunteering be safe currently?


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The homeless and the needy have been victims of the current crisis. Many rely on volunteers to feed them and provide warm clothing, tents etc.

But volunteers are often over 70 years old or constrained by safety measures related to the Coronavirus.

For about eight years, I have worked voluntarily at a local drop-in centre for the homeless and needy. Our normal service involves 20-45 people thronged into a small hall, cheek by jowl. So, we had to stop that. Fortunately we are continuing our service by giving out bags of ready-to-eat food. But we’re having to get the clients to queue outside two metres apart, place the bags on a table by the door and retire, liberally wash hands and disinfect surfaces.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

+++Open thread – Boris Johnson’s speech to the nation at 8:30pm

Boris Johnson is speaking to the nation at 8:30pm. Some expect him to announce a “lockdown”.

Please comment below as the speech unfolds….

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 17 Comments

If Jacinda Ardern can do it, why can’t Johnson?


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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a complete lockdown of her country from Wednesday. Only essential services people will be allowed outside their homes.

New Zealand currently has 102 reported cases of Covid-19, with zero deaths from the disease.

The UK currently has 5,683 cases with 281 deaths. (Figures from John Hopkins University).

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 171 Comments

Remembering the three day week


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Recently, a youngster asked me if I remembered anything like the current crisis in the past.

I had trouble remembering anything like it. The 1967 Foot and Mouth outbreak? The 1963 big freeze?

I can only just remember 1963 and the image of a car in 12 feet of snow by our local golf club.

Of course, my mother lived through the war and is still going strong.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 18 Comments

On a lighter note, a 73 year-old French book is flying off the shelves…

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Albert Camus (centre)

The Guardian reports:

…the global threat of the coronavirus is sending today’s readers towards novels about epidemics in droves. Publishers around the world are reporting booming sales of books including La Peste (or The Plague by Albert Camus), as well as Stephen King’s The Stand and Dean Koontz’s “frighteningly relevant” The Eyes of Darkness, which has become the subject of conspiracy theories online owing to its prescience.

Posted in Books | Tagged | 21 Comments

By-election win on Hedge End Town Council

Many congratulations to John Shepherd and team on winning the Hedge End Town Council, St Helens Ward by-election, on Thursday:

Posted in Council by-elections | Tagged | 1 Comment

Fascinating stuff at York!

It’s not too late to register for the York Spring conference, which is happening on the weekend of March 13-15th. You can register here.

We’ve already covered the main policy motions which will be debated in the main hall.

But there will be oodles of other stuff going on – both in the main hall and in rooms around and about the conference venues of the York Barbican, the Novotel York Center and the Hilton York.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 19 Comments

The spring conference motions explained

Over on the party website, Conference committee chair, Geoff Payne has provided a helpful rundown of the motions to be debated at the spring conference in York in the weekend of March 13th-15th.

Here are his summaries of the motions, which party members can access in full via this page on the party website:

F4 – Hong Kong
This motion introduces new party policy on the human rights situation in Hong Kong. It calls for:

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 15 Comments

More by-election news

Well done and thank you to Andrew Matthews, who stood for the party in the Royal Wooton Bassett Town Council (North ward) by-election yesterday. This ward was last contested at the main elections in 2017 when the Tories took four of the seats and we took three. A vacancy occured in one ofthe Conservative-held seats, causing the by-election. The result was:

Thank you and well done also to Martin Jones who stood for us in the by-election for Spennymoor Town Council. The result was an extraordinary win for the Conservatives, who didn’t stand for this council in the last main set of elections in 2017 and the two by-elections since:

Posted in Council by-elections | Tagged | 11 Comments

Professor John Curtice: Revoke policy did not hurt Lib Dem popularity in election campaign

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The latest excellent edition of the Journal of Liberal History deserves this extra plug.

Professor John Curtice’s nine page study of the Liberal Democrat performance in the 2019 general election is a must-read.

You can subscribe to the Journal of Liberal History here.

As one might expect, it is thoroughly based on comprehensive psephological data and the article has a long list of bibliographical references.

Posted in Liberal History | Tagged | 58 Comments

Two Lib Dems break through onto Andover Town Council

Many congratulations to Luigi Gregori and Robin Hughes on being elected to Andover Town Council to represent the Harroway ward.

Up until today the town councillors have represented the Andover Independents Party and the Andover Alliance, with two independent members. So, Luigi and Robin are the first Lib Dems since the last main set of elections in 2019 at least.

Posted in Council by-elections | Tagged | 5 Comments

The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson

My nearest and dearest booked seats for us at “The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson” at the Nuffield theatre in Southampton this week.

It seems to be your type of thing

– said her nibs.

Well, as usual she was right. It very much was my type of thing.

Posted in The Arts | Tagged , , , and | 5 Comments

Good luck to Liberal Democrat candidates standing in by-elections today

In Seaford East Ward of Seaford Town Council (in Lewes district) there is a by-election today. Good luck to Maggie Wearmouth (above with some of her team) who is standing for us there.

Posted in Council by-elections | Tagged and | 9 Comments

The detail behind the YouGov poll showing Ed Davey ahead in the leadership stakes – thanks to @ProfTimBale

Last Tuesday, I referred to a New Statesman article about a YouGov poll showing Ed Davey well ahead in the future Liberal Democrat leadership contest.

I mentioned in the piece that I was unable to find the data behind the poll.

Julian Heather (@JulianHeather1) kindly messaged Professor Tim Bale at Queen Mary, University of London.

Posted in News | 10 Comments

Getting back on the horse – and saying thank you

Laura Gordon shows her fighting spirit with this tweet and begs the question – have you delivered your “thank you” Focus yet?

PS. As of this morning, 85.8% say Laura has got back on the horse!

Posted in Campaign Corner | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Leaving the EU – some last day tweets

Here are some EU last day thoughts from the Twittersphere:


Posted in News | Tagged | 12 Comments

Good luck to Jonny Edge and team in Suffolk this Thursday



Jonny Edge (left) and his team in Newmarket and Red Lodge

There are two by-elections in Suffolk this Thursday, both caused by the resignations of a Conservative councillor who was elected as an MP in Aberconwy, North Wales.

Jonny Edge is our candidate in both the contest for the Newmarket North seat on West Suffolk District Council and also the battle for the Newmarket and Red Lodge seat on Suffolk County Council.

Posted in Council by-elections and Local government | Tagged and | 6 Comments

YouGov poll on Lib Dem leadership: Ed Davey is a country mile ahead (contains caveats)

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Stephen Bush has written the following on the New Statesman “The Staggers” blog:

Ed Davey is on course to win the looming Liberal Democrat leadership election, a YouGov poll for the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Party Members Project, run out of the University of Sussex and Queen Mary University has found. YouGov asked members to choose between a field of Ed Davey, Layla Moran and Daisy Cooper, the new MP for St Albans, all of whom are widely tipped to stand. In that field, Davey wins outright in the first round, with 52 per cent of the vote against Moran’s 24 per cent and Cooper’s 9 per cent.

I did a little light Googling to see if I could find the data on this poll.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , and | 33 Comments

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – there are referendums galore this Thursday

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You probably thought that we have had our fill of referendums for the next several millennia.

But, in my researches for this Thursday’s by-elections, I stumbled upon several Neighbourhood planning referendums happening this Thursday, 30th January.

Posted in Local government | Tagged and | 18 Comments

UPDATED: The 91 seats where the Liberal Democrats came second in the general election (or The Sunday data workshop experiment continues…)

Thank you all for your excellent comments to my earlier post, pointing out the errors in my spreadsheet!

I see it as an experiment in community data creation!

My main problem is that I did not screen out seats with a large Nationalist element, mainly in Scotland.

Posted in General Election | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Community data creation – A first (and wrong) attempt at listing the constituencies where the Liberal Democrats were second in the general election

UPDATE: This post has now been superseded. I have now issued a new post with the revised spreadsheet showing 91 seats.
Thanks everyone for your input on my errors, I hope you enjoyed joining in!

A friend asked me if I knew where, on Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s ingenious interweb device, there is a list of the 90 seats where the LibDems were second in the general election in December.

It turns out that I couldn’t find such a list, so I have created it – displayed below through the magic of Scribd.

Posted in General Election | Tagged | 30 Comments

Christine Jardine leads MPs’ debate on assisted dying – most speakers are in favour

On Thursday Christine Jardine MP led a Westminster Hall debate of MPs on the subject of the Assisted Dying Law. This was a debate which she brought about.

You can read the debate in full on the Hansard website, and below are Christine’s opening and closing contributions, replete with interventions from other MPs.

Christine has written an article in The Times (£) on the subject and the Westminster Hall debate was covered on BBC Radio 4’s Today in Parliament programme (starts at 15:22) – which included an interview on the subject with Christine.

Posted in Parliament | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

What’s being debated in our members’ forum this week?

members forum wordleLibDemVoice has two parallel sites. The first is our public blog, the thing you’re reading now. The second is our private members’ forum, which only current Lib Dem members can access.

If you’re a member and want to chat with fellow party members about any issue that’s on your mind, then why not sign up? In addition, you’ll be included in our regular surveys’ of party members’ views.

Here’s some of the most active discussions this past 10 days:

  • The leadership election timetable
  • Violent crime
  • The influence of drugs on acquisitive

Posted in Site news | Leave a comment

Dr Phillip Lee selected as Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Wokingham

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Wokingham Today reports:

DR PHILLIP LEE is to carry on his connections to Wokingham after being appointed by the local Liberal Democrats to be its parliamentary spokesperson for the year ahead.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 24 Comments

Full results from last night’s by-elections

There were four seats up for grabs in Brent, two of them in one ward – Barnhill.

Well done to all our candidates, Anton Georgiou, Jyotshna Patel, Michael Brooke and Larry Ngan and their teams who worked so hard in the run-up to yesterday.

Here are the results from the Brent Council website:

Posted in News | 6 Comments
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