Author Archives: Paul Walter

The secret world of Whitehall – and other BBC Michael Cockerell gems


British Houses of Parliament
If you’ve missed them when they were originally broadcast, YouTube has a wealth of BBC political documentaries for you to watch at leisure.

I missed Michael Cockerell’s “The Secret World of Whitehall” when it was originally broadcast. All three programmes from the series are on YouTube in full:

Episode 1 – The Real Sir Humphrey – This looks at the role of the Cabinet Secretary, chronicling the historic evolution of the role through its various job holders.

Posted in TV and film | Tagged and | 1 Comment

A longer read for the weekend… Sir John Major’s stunning speech on Brexit in full

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We don’t often feature speeches from members of other parties. But this speech made on Wednesday by Sir John Major is worth reading through in full. The text was published by the Mirror. At the bottom of the text is a video of the speech from the Guardian channel on YouTube:

I would like to express my thanks to the Creative Industries Federation, Somerset House Trust, and Tech London Advocates for the opportunity to speak here today.

Brexit matters to our creative industries. They express our culture and values – but give so much more.

Posted in Speeches | Tagged and | 1 Comment

The 2017 general election – the much overlooked rebalancing of British democracy

The British Election Study has been issuing data concerning the 2017 election based on their “face-to-face” process. They maintain, for example, that the much-acclaimed “Youthquake” of 2017 was in fact a myth.

But I was very interested in this graph, tweeted by James Kanagasooriam:

There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this graph. Much has been made of the fact that the Tories had quite a chunk of Remainers voting for them – particularly in the South of the country.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Vince Cable wishes you a Happy New Year!

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Vince Cable says:

I would like to wish a Happy New Year to our friends and members of the Chinese community in the UK and to all who celebrate Lunar New Year during this time of year. May it be a time of great joy and celebration with family and friends.

The Chinese community have long established roots in the UK, whether coming from Hong Kong, South East Asia or from the People’s Republic of China. Your contributions enrich the cultural life of all Britons, enhance our professions and bolster our economy.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

+++Three stonking by-election gains from the Tories plus whopping vote share increases – “something is happening out there”

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP’s tweet nicely summarises the good news tonight:

Well done and congratulations to all the teams involved!

In detail, there was a stonking gain from the Tories in Teignbridge:

Posted in News | Tagged | 9 Comments

Are “Just-in-time” supply chains evil?

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It is strange what topics come up at an annual Liberal Democrat dinner, but this topic, in the post title above, came up at one I attended last week.

It’s a big subject.

First of all, we need to be clear what “Just-in-time” actually means. It is a phrase which is bandied about so that it sometimes ceases to have any precise meaning.

In its purest,original sense, Just-in-time refers to Just-in-time manufacturing, as defined by Wikipedia:

Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, also known as just-in-time production or the Toyota Production System (TPS), is a methodology aimed primarily at reducing flow times within production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. Its origin and development was in Japan, largely in the 1960s and 1970s and particularly at Toyota.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Vince Cable joins rally to press for international students to be excluded from migration figures

Photo: Geoff Caddick/PA

Yesterday the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, joined academics, students, business leaders and other politicians at a rally in support of international students. London Frist’s “Stand up don’t be counted” campaign aims to take students out of the UK’s net migration target.

The photo above shows Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, Paul Currran, President of City University, Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Tulip Siddiq MP attending the rally in Torrington Square, London.

The government aims to reduce net migration to under 100,000 people each year. In London alone, international students bring a net benefit of £2.3 billion per annum and support 70,000 jobs in the capital.

New data released by the organisers of the event, business group London First, shows the majority of people (57%) believe that international students should not be included in the government’s net migration target, with less than one in three people (31%) thinking they should be included.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

“A back of a fag packet speech” – Tom Brake on today’s Boris speech

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Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson, Tom Brake has responded pithily to Boris Johnson’s speech on Brexit:

Boris Johnson is completely deluded about Brexit. This speech wasn’t about the most important issue facing our country right now, this was about Boris’ ambitions to become the next Prime Minister, and it probably wasn’t much help on that front either.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

In praise of Parish Councils

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This is a rather unfocussed post, but I just wanted to give a shout-out for Parish Councils.

One of our number here at LDV Towers, Mark Valladares, writes a blog called Liberal Bureaucracy. One of its main subjectival strands is Mark’s role as a parish councillor. Just leafing through some of the post titles gives one an excellent flavour of parish council life:

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Janet Fookes’ winning ways – and they had nothing to do with her red hair!

Last week on t’internet, a toe-curling interview from 1970 (above) was doing the rounds.

It featured a newly elected MP speaking on the BBC election night TV programme.

Nothing unusual about that, except that it was – GASP! – a woman MP!!!!!!!

The behaviour, during and after the appearance of Janet Fookes, of Robin Day and Cliff Michelmore gave whole new meaning to the word “patronising”.

So I thought it would be a good idea to balance things out.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

On BBC Newsnight, Vince explains why hard Brexit is anything but liberal

On BBC 2’s Newsnight last night, Vince made a very good job of laying out why a hard Brexit is far from liberal:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 11 Comments

John Stuart Mill would have supported hard Brexit, says Boris

From the Guardian:

The foreign secretary called (the EU) a “teleological construction” that was “ends driven”. He said the founding fathers of the common market decided to create a “new sense of political identity by legal means” – but claimed this went against liberal thinking. “(John Stuart) Mill would say that the national group, the group that most associate with each other, govern each other. But this was a new idea to try to transcend that.”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 41 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – British cross-border supply chains will be strangled by hard Brexit red tape

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Writing in the i newspaper, Nick Clegg says that any chance of Soft Brexit has been killed off by Theresa May. Instead, MPs will be faced with the choice of a hard Brexit or no Brexit.

Nick Clegg hits the nail on the head when he describes how modern cross-border supply chains will be destroyed by a hard Brexit:

It cannot be said enough: the Brexit this Government is determined to impose on this country cannot under any circumstances avoid the introduction of extensive new barriers, costs and frictions to trade with our largest trading partners.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Vintage election nights: the time a painter had to come on screen to extend the Swingometer

I have always remembered the classic moment when, during the BBC general election night TV coverage of 1970, a painter had to be brought on to extend the swingometer. This was because the Conservative swings were unexpectedly high, and the swingometer didn’t go far enough to cover some of them.

In these days of high tech, it is difficult to believe that such a thing happened. Indeed, as I have recalled the incident over the years, I don’t think many people have believed me.

Posted in General Election and TV and film | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Whodathunkit? Michael Portillo says David Lloyd George is a hero of his

Michael Portillo has bought a brand new red “pixelated” jacket for a new series of “British Railway Journies”, available on BBC iPlayer.

Posted in Liberal History | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Can you name these three animals? Congratulations! Your cognitive skills could be up there with the US President


I said the other day that the “Fire and Fury” book has lowered expectations about Donald Trump:

When you read of the dysfunction and chaos in his White House, it then comes as a pleasant surprise when you hear Donald Trump stringing a basic, reasonably coherent sentence together without falling over the furniture and dribbling.

Well, this week the results of Trump’s annual medical tests were released. There seems to be considerable relief that his tests, at least according to the lead medic, Dr Ronny Jackson, gave good results. As far as Mr Trump’s cognitive abilities are concerned, Dr Jackson said:

The president is mentally very sharp, very intact.

Posted in Humour | Tagged | 5 Comments

Book review: Fire, fury and landmark transparency in the White House


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There’s a queue for the doorstopper version of “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. So on the day of the book’s release last week, I got the Kindle version. I then decided to make my life easier by opting for a free trial of “Audible“. So, I have listened to two-thirds of the audio version of the book, read beautifully by the author and Holter Graham. I am sorry that I have not yet finished the book but I admit I am finding the latter half of it rather heavy going.

There’s no doubt though, that this book is a good read. Or in my case a good listen.

Posted in Books | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

In full: Tim Farron’s interview on Premier Radio

Tim has spoken at length on Premier Radio, including remarks on his faith and his role as leader of the Liberal Democrats:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 54 Comments

How the Samaritans helped me and how they can help you

In the last two years, I have been helped twice by the Samaritans. The first time was when I had a number of personal, family and work issues piling up. I felt as though everything was getting on top of me, and that if I wasn’t careful, I would end up feeling worse. As usual my family were a great support to me. But I just felt I wanted to reach out to another human being, unconnected with the situations, to share what I was going through.

I emailed [email protected] . Emailing seemed the best thing for me in that situation. I just wanted to share my issues with another human. – To know some other person was reading my thoughts. It was an insurance policy to an extent. I hoped, and my hope turned out to be fulfilled, that emailing “Jo” would help put a limit on my feelings of being somewhat overwhelmed by life at that time. Jo wrote back and was very sympathetic. Jo helped focus my thoughts. Jo read and understood what I was saying, and acted as a “shoulder to cry on”. A safety valve. Jo promised to be there if I needed to share more. Things gradually sorted themselves out. But it was good to know that I had “Jo” on the end of an email in case I needed more support – to let off steam, set out my thoughts, whatever…

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Money to support young people who want to see a parliamentary by-election campaign at first hand

I thought that might get your attention…!

It’s eighteen months since the death of David Rendel, former Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury from 1993 to 2005. His untimely demise was obviously a cruel blow for his family. In Newbury, we also miss him dreadfully in the Liberal Democrats. We lost a great friend. I lost a great friend. I miss his humility, his enormous wisdom, his integrity, his selflessness, his sense of humour, his encouraging smile, his endless energy and passion for liberalism.

Fortunately, shortly before his death, when asked if there was anything that the local Lib Dems could do in his memory, he expressed his wish. David was a great by-election afficianado. Indeed, he himself swept to victory in Newbury in 1993 in one of the most famous Liberal Democrat by-election victories in history. David was also a passionate mentor to many young people in politics. In his last months he said that he would like there to be some sort of fund in his name which enables young people who are interested in politics (and he specified that these young people would not necessarily be Lib Dem members, but perhaps broadly share our values) to be able to go to a parliamentary by-election and immerse themselves for several weeks in the campaign – getting involved in the campaigning. He particularly wanted such a fund to benefit those young people who, without such financial support, might not otherwise be able to travel to and stay at a by-election location.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Do we fancy jumping off a cliff like lemmings?……now let me see…..it’s a tough one…..


PSM V11 D400 Lemmings in migration

I sympathise with Theresa May. She has a very difficult decision to make for the country.

The two options are:

Option 1: The Mass Lemming option

We are hold hands – that is all 65.64 million of us, minus two, and jump over a very high cliff into economic contraction/uncertainty and a return to ghastly sectarian murder in Northern Ireland. But the good news is that the press will love it and John Redwood and Jacob Rees-Mogg (the minus two) will be at the bottom of the cliff to catch us.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 27 Comments

The Damian Green alleged web misuse case – the employer should investigate and take whatever actions they deem appropriate


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I may be reverting into my sandals here, but I can’t see why Damian Green should be sacked – unless his employer investigates his case (regarding alleged web misuse) and deems a dismissal is appropriate.

We’re assured (by, oddly enough, retired Detective Lewis – I can imagine John Thaw saying “LEWIS!” as I write) that there is no chance that Mr Green has broken the law. The pornography allegedly found on his computer may or may not have got there due to his actions – Mr Green strongly denies any wrong-doing. But the alleged images were, apparently, not illegal, and not even extreme. The case was years ago and the result of a contested search of parliamentary premises. The current controversy seems to be a battle of retired police officers. Retired Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy says unrelated non-criminal events uncovered by enquiries would normally be kept confidential with no action taken.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron – What Kind of Liberal Society Do We Want?


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Theos is an organisation which, in its own words: “stimulates the debate about the place of religion in society, challenging and changing ideas through research, commentary and events.”

This week, Tim Farron gave the Theos Annual 2017 Lecture.

It is an extremely thoughtful, nuanced and quite complex speech.

You can read it in full here on the Theos website.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 22 Comments

Superb TV programme: The Bombs that changed Britain


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The devastation of South Hallsville School in East Ham, London after a bomb hit it in 1940.

The BBC is to be congratulated on a superb history series currently going out on BBC2 – Blitz: The bombs that changed Britain.

We often think of the wartime blitz and see film footage of mounds of rubble and people trying to find loved ones.

But this TV series goes one step further and very specifically outlines the terrible impact of one bomb (in each of four episodes).

In the first programme, now on BBC iPlayer for the next 28 days, they follow the story of an unexploded bomb which fell on Number 5 Martindale Road, Canning Town in London. Because it was unexploded, the whole area had to be evacuated. This led to 600 people being crammed into nearby South Hallsville School. The idea was that people would be quickly moved from the school out of danger. But due to bureaucratic incompetence and official indifference to the plight of the mainly poor people there, the numbers mushroomed over several nights. Then the inevitable happened and the school was bombed, with horrific and widespread devastation.

Posted in TV and film | Tagged | 5 Comments

Imagine if someone hacked into your canvassing database account and deleted stuff…

Well, that is exactly what happened to US Democrat party strategist Donna Brazile in November 2016. She told Joe Madison:

We had so much shit in our entire technology ecosystem that we couldn’t clean it up. Oh man, those Russians were on us like white on rice. I mean, they were, Joe, they were destroying data, critical data, Joe. I had a walking list for precinct 89 in Washington, D.C. I know precinct 89, right? And the Russians went in there and corrupted all of our critical data. All of our critical

Posted in News | 11 Comments

Tony Blair bestrides the globe while the UK goes “la la la – not listening”

It seems that shortly after attending the Remembrance Sunday parade at London’s Cenotaph, former Prime Minister Tony Blair hopped on a plane for The Gambia. On Tuesday, he popped up there to meet the country’s President, Adama Barrow at his office (above) and then have dinner with him at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa in Serrekunda. (A night in the Presidential suite there would set you back £1870). Globe-trotting Tony Blair also met Mr Barrow back in April, shortly after the latter had been elected President, replacing the tyrannical Yayha Jammeh.

Tony Blair has recently had many high level meetings with African leaders. Back in July he was in Kaduna, Nigeria and Togo. He’s been to Ghana. This month he was also in Cote d’Ivoire. There he met the Energy Minister, the Education Minister and the Prime Minister.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

Backlash against Trump in US elections


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Here’s a few stories about the encouraging elections in the USA last Tuesday.

Politico summarised the news:

This one was for Donald Trump. Exit polls revealed an unmistakable anti-Trump backlash Tuesday, as Democrats won resounding victories in governors races in Virginia and New Jersey. Majorities of voters in both states disapproved of the job Trump is doing as president, with significant numbers of voters in each state saying Trump was a reason for their vote. And far more of those voters said they made their choice to oppose Trump than to support him.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Update on that Australian constitutional crisis sparked by the blog of a former Lib Dem candidate…

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Further to my blog this morning, many thanks to William Summers, who has got in touch from Melbourne. He’s sent us the link to the original blog post which led to the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, being ruled as ineligible to hold office, turning the Australian government into a minority one. Here is the link to the post.

As a recap, William Summers was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Norfolk North West in 2010, and worked for Norman Lamb as an assistant. He now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Posted in News | Tagged | 8 Comments

Australian constitutional crisis triggered by former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate


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This is all a bit bizarre.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Barnaby Joyce, together with four senators, has had his election declared null and void by the country’s High Court. There will be a by-election to fill the Deputy PM’s seat, which has been vacated by this ruling. There will also be recounts in the four senate seats.

All this was due to infringements of rules pertaining to dual citizenship. Australia’s constitution bans anyone holding dual citizenship from sitting in parliament. Mr Joyce discovered that he had joint New Zealand citizenship by descent from his father. He has since renounced this status and will fight the forthcoming by-election.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Remarkable TV programme – Chris Packham: Asperger’s and me


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Available on BBC iPlayer for the next 27 days is a remarkable TV programme – Chris Packham: Asperger’s and me. It’s a beautifully made film, in which Chris Packham is ‘brutally honest’ about his autism – he has Asperger’s syndrome. He welcomes the cameras into his home – deep in the New Forest where he lives with his dog, Scratchy. With the assistance of actors, Chris recalls his childhood and teenage years.

Posted in TV and film | Tagged , and | 1 Comment
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