Author Archives: Paul Walter

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

Donald Trump interview from 1980 – is this a different person?

This is a remarkable video clip of a 1980 NBC interview with Donald Trump. Tom Brokaw is the host for a conversation about New York real estate with a 33 year-old Trump.

It is worth noting Donald Trump’s mode of speech in this interview. He talks quite quickly. He uses lots of words. He doesn’t stumble over those words. His sentences are perfectly formed and crisply delivered, with lots of substantive clauses and the like. And what he is talking about has quite a lot of technical detail.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 10 Comments

The Reagan Show – an absorbing portrait of a master communicator in the White House

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The Reagan Show is a CNN Films movie released in the UK earlier this month. After showing in a few cinemas it is now available on iTunes, Sky, Amazon, GooglePlay and YouTube.

The film uses the mountain of archive “behind-the-scenes” and in-front-of-the-scenes footage recorded during the Ronald Reagan Presidency. There are some great clips and there is a particularly compelling portrait of his work with Mikhail Gorbachev to eventually sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. We’re reminded that Gorbachev too was a showman, and that the two struck up quite a close working friendship.

Posted in Films | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Martin Luther King: How the dream speech wasn’t planned

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It was one of the most famous speeches ever made and led to two major pieces of Civil Rights legislation in the USA.

Yet, in issue 1277 of the Big Issue, author Philip Collins tells how Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” on August 28th 1963 in The Mall, Washington DC, wasn’t planned as it happened.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Protesting by ‘taking the knee’ during the “Star-spangled banner” – who are the patriots?

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This is the sixteenth and final of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month I have been posting about my experiences. In this last article, I reflect on my journey and its relevance to what is going on these days in the good ol’ US of A.

Imagine the scene. Being an absolute sucker for plaques, I was dutifully reading the plaques in Court Square, Montgomery AL. I was queuing up, or should I say “in the line”, to read the Rosa Parks’ plaque there. There was a couple in front of me.

Why should we celebrate that ****?

– said the fellow in front of me, using a very strong expletive not normally wittingly unleashed on LDV readers. Neeedless to say, the man was white also. This outburst surprised me a bit. Here I was, paying great reverence to Ms Parks, having travelled 4,303 miles (as the crow flies) to do so. And here was this guy asking why we “should celebrate this ****”.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

A journey through American history – a compendium


Over the last few weeks, I have posted up recollections from my recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I have been relating some of the things I saw. Here is a compendium which lists the sixteen posts in this series with links to all of them:

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

This single photograph shows an amazing crucible of American history


This is the fifteenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

Without any doubt, the highlight of my USA tour was my visit to Mongomery, Alabama. To coin a phrase of Stephen Fry’s, for someone interested in history, it was like swimming through liquid chocolate. Within half a mile of the State Capitol, there are a clutch of historic sites which bore witness to some of the most seminal events in the history of the USA.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

The woman who refused to budge on the bus – and made history


The statue of Rosa Parks in the Rosa Parks museum, Troy University, Montgomery, Alabama.

This is the fourteenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I’ve wanted to visit the Rosa Parks museum for years. It has been very high on my bucket list. It was a strange desire. The Rosa Parks museum is in Montgomery, Alabama, which is not one of the easiest places to places to get to in the States. (I had to go on a Greyhound bus from Atlanta, Georgia – which turned out to be a very peaceful and calm experience!) And I would not say that I am an expert on the history of Rosa Parks. I had barely read her Wikipedia write-up before I planned a trip to Montgomery. It was just that I respected her as someone who did something quite awesome – she simply, and with quiet dignity, refused to give up her bus seat to a white person and, as a result, sparked a movement that led eventually to the end of racial segregation in the USA and a step-function advancement in civil rights for Black people there.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Kenyan opposition leader in London: ‘New election will be as corruptly conducted as last month’s & its outcome will in no way represent will of Kenyans’


Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition party leader, spoke yesterday at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London. Mr Odinga was Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013.

Reuters reports:

(Odinga) said on Friday his withdrawal from a presidential election rerun scheduled for Oct. 26 meant the poll had been “cancelled” and there should be fresh nominations for a new vote.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

The home where Martin Luther King’s family were bombed



This is the thirteenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

In Montgomery, Alabama I visited the Dexter Parsonage Museum (photo above) – which was the home of Dr Martin Luther King Jr during the Montgomery Bus Boycott (of which more in a latter post). Dr King lived here with his family from 1954 to 1960. It is preserved with the furnishings and household things as per that period.

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In the heart of the American rebellion


The main drawing room – what was effectively the “Oval Office” – of the First Confederacy White House in Montgomery, Alabama.

This is the twelfth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

You’re in the heart of the Jefferson Davis rebellion empire!

I had just walked up to the door of “the first Confederacy White House”, across the road from the Alabaman State Capitol in Montgomery. I wasn’t sure that the museum was open – the door was closed and there was no sign of it being open. So it was a bit of a surprise to open the door and be immediately confronted by a very excited docent, who was like a character actor from a John Wayne film. After the declaration above, I half-expected him to shout “Yee-haa!” and plonk a globule of his oral juices into a nearby spittoon!

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

Just as US President Jimmy Carter was the antidote to “Tricky Dicky”, could Oprah Winfrey save the world from Trump?



This is the eleventh of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I had the great pleasure of visiting the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. It is set just outside the city centre, in very leafy and peaceful surroundings. The exhibition gave me a sense of a great man, shaped by his upbringing in Georgia, his experience as a farmer and businessman, and his service in the US Navy in nuclear submarines.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Splendid memorial to Dr Martin Luther King Junior in Washington DC

This is the tenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

In Washington DC, I was lucky enough to stay in a neighbourhood where the people were extremely friendly and welcoming. But it is true that the centre of “DC”, as it is almost universally called in the States, is odd. It consists of virtually all federal buildings of some sort or another, plus a lot of monuments. In fact there are so many monuments that, after a couple of days, I had definitely reached “peak monument”.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

The black slave whose failed bid for freedom led to the American Civil War

This is the ninth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I enjoyed a visit to the wonderful US Capitol “Visitor Center”. At presumably astronomical expense, a fantastic underground visitors’ entrance has been built on the east side of the Capitol. You enter it and are taken on a tour of the US Capitol where you go up inside the centre of the building.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , , , , and | 4 Comments

Reminders of the unspeakable inhumanity of slavery



Bermuda (UK) image number 431 graphic depiction of how slaves were kept below decks

This is the eighth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I visited two sites which reminded me of the unspeakable inhumanity of slavery.
The Charles H Wright Museum of African American history is superb. From the very origins of humanity from one common mother, revealed via mitochondrial DNA, “And still we rise” tells the story of African Americans in great detail with very attractive displays.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

The music that united the world



This is the seventh of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

When I started planning my US trip, I had two items high on my bucket list which I wanted to tick. One was the Rosa Parks museum (of which more later in this series) and the other was the Motown museum in Detroit. I was extremely excited to visit the home of Tamla Motown. I made a major 3000 mile detour in my trip just to do it! And I was not disappointed. I have still not completely calmed down from my excitement three weeks after visiting it!

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , and | 7 Comments

The underground road to precious freedom for black slaves

This is the sixth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I had low expectations for Detroit. You hear stories about bankruptcy and violence. In fact, I found Detroit to be a wonderful city. It is beautifully spaced out. Rather than having all its prominent buildings in the centre of the city, they are spread out across the urban area. The heritage of the wealth of the automative industry has bestowed some wonderful buildings to Detroit.

Posted in LDVUSA | Tagged , , , , and | 11 Comments
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