David Walter

Yesterday, sadly, David Walter lost his battle with cancer and died in the Royal Marsden Hospital.

He was widely known in the party, having served as Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats at Cowley Street.

Chris Rennard writes:

David was widely respected as a decent, principled and trustworthy person.

He was always positive and encouraging to work with as well as being professional and completely loyal to the party that he always supported. He had to be discreet about his party allegiance whilst working for the BBC and ITN and he was greatly respected by both those organisations and friends thoughout the media and different parties.

I first got to know him when he did the commentary for a BBC ‘On the Record’ Sunday lunchtime documentary on the 1993 Newbury by-election. As the Campaign Manager for David Rendel when we overturned a 12,000 Conservative majority to win by 22,000, David’s documentary made me the ‘Lib Dem by-election guru’ and was the beginning of a friendship and professional relationship.

I was delighted, therefore, when after the 1997 General Election breakthrough he was put in charge of the party’s media operation and worked with me on the party’s political and election broadcasts. Some of them attracted criticism from the media that they were so professional that people didn’t realise they were watching election broadcasts.

David helped to train and advise many of the party’s MPs and candidates in media skills and narrowly failed to retain the West Devon constituency in 2005 when John Burnett stood down.

He was an excellent debater and would have been a brilliant parliamentarian but he served the cause of Liberal Democracy in other ways.

David Walter

David Walter

David’s death is personally significant for me, because last year I took over from him as local party Chair in Kingston. He had carried on bravely for four years, in spite of his developing ill-health.

Peter Grender, President of Kingston Liberal Democrats, says:

I remember when I approached David to take on the role of Chair. His arm was only half-way up to his shoulder blades when agreed to do the job. He did the job with charm, understanding, quiet authority and wisdom. He will be sorely missed.

Yes, indeed.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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29 Comments

  • I was so sorry to hear about David. He was a lovely man to work with – liked by everyone who ever met him.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 30th Mar '12 - 11:30am

    Very sad news. I met David on a number of occasions. He was always charming, courteous and helpful

  • Tamsin Hewett 30th Mar '12 - 11:48am

    So sorry to hear the sad news – David was always so generous with his time in helping other candidates and was such a very very nice man. He will be much missed. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

  • George Crozier 30th Mar '12 - 1:33pm

    What sad news. David was such a lovely guy. As a colleague I always found him helpful, constructive, insightful and, as others have said, encouraging. I learnt a lot from him. Whenever I met him since it was always a pleasure to hear his thoughts on the current political scene. His book, The Strange Rebirth of Liberal England, was pretty good too. What a shame he won’t get to do an updated version.

  • Karen Hamilton 30th Mar '12 - 2:01pm

    I am shocked and saddened. David will be greatly missed but he leaves a great legacy in all the people that he helped including me.

  • Peter Chegwyn 30th Mar '12 - 2:20pm

    Very sad news. As others have said, David was a lovely man who was always willing to help and advise others. He will be very sadly missed.

  • Liberal Neil 30th Mar '12 - 2:31pm

    This is very sad news. David was a thoroughly decent chap and a very supportive colleague.

    My fondest memory of him was a political development trip we did to Zanzibar (with two Piercys). I’m a very nervous traveller but his anecdotes and charm made the journey very enjoyable and relaxed.

    He will be missed by everyone who had the good luck to know him.

  • Brian Mathew 30th Mar '12 - 3:27pm

    Sad news indeed David Walter gave so many of us a help with learning how to deal with TV and Radio, he was a fixture at conference, and also at times willing to take the stand, and speak up for things that he felt were important. Many of us owe him a real debt of gratitude.

  • sheila gunn 30th Mar '12 - 6:35pm

    No, I am not a Liberal Democrat but a “practising” Conservative. But, before you sign off, please accept my condolences for the loss of such a lovely, impressive and intelligent man. I first knew him when he was working in TV and I was on The Times. We then both became “spin doctors” (a description which we both, reluctantly accepted after a while) for our respective leaders. Much more recently, we have both been teaching City University students taking the master’s degree in political journalism. Whatever label attached to him, I always found him a delight to work with, an inspiration and an optimist – and just one of those rare people who leave you – after a short conversation – feeling better about the world, politics and yourself. My sympathies go out to his family.

  • Alison Clish-Green 30th Mar '12 - 7:27pm

    I first met David when he stood for us as Parliamentaty candidate in Torridge & West Devon.
    A lovely person and a true friend. My thoughts are with his wife, son and daughter.

  • Duncan Greenland 31st Mar '12 - 4:26pm

    if it seems like a very long time ago ,it’s because it IS a very long time ago that David wrote all the words to John Overton’s music at a musical revue forerunner to the Glee Club at the Blackpool Liberal Party Conference in 1968 ! ( not being able to sing or act I was the business manager! )
    we have lost dear friend….

  • Kay Barnard 1st Apr '12 - 10:01am

    David helped train candidates with both kindness and effectiveness. I have enormous respect for him and we should be thankful he gave his time and expertise to us all. He will be remembered.

  • My sincere condolences to add to the many others here – I didn’t know David very well, but from what I knew he was a really lovely man. Mention is made of his candidate training – I was one of those candidates. Over the years I have taken part in a number of media training courses, and I can honestly say that David’s left me feeling both more confident, and more prepared for media contacts. He was very good.

  • Prof George Irvin 1st Apr '12 - 10:52pm

    My wife Lindsay and I were greatly saddened by the news. David was not just an very intelligent and interesting person, he was a thoroughly decent man, one of a rare breed who will be greatly missed. Our heartfelt condolences to Pam and the family.

  • Steve Comer 1st Apr '12 - 11:40pm

    Very sad news. I was one of several Bristol Lib Dem Councillors who benefited from his media training.
    He was a great trainer, he took time to talk to each of us and understand our needs. He would have made a great MP.

  • A real loss. David was a true professional and leaves a valuable legacy to the party through all of the excellent training he offered to MPs, candidates and activists over the years. The range of comments here from across the country, within and outwith the party, is testament to the impact he had on people.

  • Dinti Batstone 2nd Apr '12 - 12:02pm

    I was very sad to hear the news. David was a truly kind man, giving lots of encouragement while also challenging me – and many others – to develop further. I remember phoning him just before my first time as an interviewee on Woman’s Hour – his calm, practical advice reassured me no end. “It’s like flying hours” he said, “the more you do it, the easier it will get”. David was also very supportive of the idea of allowing MPs to stand on a job-share basis, and his endorsement helped give me the confidence to keep pushing the idea. The last time I saw David was at a Campaign for Gender Balance fundraising dinner a few months ago. He was recovering from chemo but characteristically full of life and generous in his support. I will miss him very much.

  • Christian Moon 2nd Apr '12 - 8:28pm

    I have many fond memories of David – we both started working in Cowley Street in 1998. He was one of the kindest and most considerate people I’ve ever worked with.

  • Geoff Tordoff 3rd Apr '12 - 8:50am

    David is a real loss. There are too few honest jounalists around that we can afford to lose a man like David. It is not just that. He was unfailingly decent,kind and amusing and the world is a duller place without him.

  • Ruwan Kodikara 3rd Apr '12 - 9:27am

    David was a fantastic man to work with. Always friendly, warm and considerate. I was devastated to hear the news and my sympathies go out to his family. He will be sorely missed.

  • David was an incredibly nice and impresive man.
    Whilst David worked for the party, I always found he made an effort to engage with new staff. His warmth, humility and approachableness taught me a lot about how to treat people in both a political and work environment.

  • Chris Rennard 4th Apr '12 - 1:38pm

    I will be sending all of these comments and those on my Facebook page to David’s family in the next few days.
    Jonathan Fryer has also written and extremely nice piece about David in the Guardian today:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/apr/02/david-walter-obituary?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+theguardian%2Fmedia%2Frss+(Media)

  • Chris Rennard 9th Apr '12 - 7:30pm

    more tributes to David from his professional colleagues here:
    http://www.themediasociety.com/news/?itemId=184

  • Chris Rennard 15th Apr '12 - 1:29pm

    David’s memorial service will be at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street on Wednesday 27th June at 2pm.

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