November 25, 2016
by Paul
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Last weekend – big push for Sarah Olney in Richmond Park

kingston-office-montage

Yesterday I spent all day at Richmond Park. In the morning I was delivering Gazette newspapers in New Malden. Then in the afternoon I joined our very hard-working clerical team in the Kingston office. I bumped into LDV colleague, Mary Reid, who has a crucial top secret role at the Kingston office, which she fulfils every evening. I could tell you what this role involves, but I’d have to eat you afterwards.

It was great to see the streets teeming with orange diamond posters and busy LibDem volunteers. Continue Reading →

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November 24, 2016
by Paul
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Even George Osborne’s Brexit black hole warning wasn’t high enough

George Osborne got a lot of stick back in June, when he warned that a Brexit vote would leave a “£30 billion black hole in (the) public finances”. Indeed, his warning resulted in his entire career being shunted into a siding. Crestfallen, he went off to Vietnam to let off steam with an M60 machine gun. Continue Reading →

November 24, 2016
by Paul
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Book review – Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews

Books and films about the last second of President John F Kennedy’s life have been plentiful. “Jack Kennedy – Elusive hero” by Chris Matthews is a very engaging book which focusses on the great politician’s life before that last second.

Chris Matthews is a very well-known US TV broadcaster. He prefaces this book in a personal context – explaining his great admiration for JFK. The book does an excellent job in answering the key question which John F Kennedy himself described as the pivotal one for biographies: “What was he like?” Continue Reading →

November 23, 2016
by Paul
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Postcard from India – monumental bank note upheaval

cow-mini-market in Goa by Paul Walter
Paul Walter is now back at home. As is often the case, this postcard arrived after the sender returned to Blighty!

We’ve had an enrapturing holiday in Goa, India. The welcome from the Goan people was wonderful. The beauty of the place was breathtaking.

By coincidence, we arrived just a couple days after a major monetary change by the government. To wrong-foot terrorists and criminals, there has been a monumentally huge exercise called “demonetisation”, going on across this, the second most populous nation in the world. All the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes have been withdrawn from circulation at two hours’ notice.

In the Times of India, Santosh Desai wrote: “86% of the currency in circulation becomes illegal virtually overnight”. That relates to an estimated $210 billion worth of money notes. $210 billion! That is a mind-boggling figure. Continue Reading →

November 10, 2016
by Paul
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Great Henry Mancini track on Pick of the Pops

Well done BBC Radio 2, Pick of the Pops and Paul Gambaccini!

Last Saturday’s Pick of the Pops 1964 half was a real corker. Often the programme throws up great tracks which aren’t played much these days.

Henry Mancini’s “How soon?” was really fantastic to hear. Yes, a bit schmaltzy and MOR (Middle of the road), but it hit the spot with me….

The Great Gambo said it was the theme from the TV series “The Richard Boon show”, which is in the second box below and looks like a laugh a minute…



November 6, 2016
by Paul
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We need to stop the drift towards self-destruction

It is more in sorrow than anger that I review the events of the last few days.

And if you want sorrow rather than anger done beautifully, then watch this wonderful piece of James O’Brien’s LBC show. He patiently asks why the caller asked for British law administered in Britain by British judges but is now angry about British law administered in Britain by British judges. Continue Reading →

November 3, 2016
by Paul
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Phew! Thank goodness for the High Court ruling

Today’s High Court ruling is quite a relief.

Up until now, the government’s approach to Article 50 has been rather like that of a load of drunks in a speeding train carriage, intent on pulling the emergency cord to jump off the train in the middle of nowhere.

To embark on Article 50 without parliamentary consensus, and with a confused government position, would have been disastrous for this country’s interests.

The High Court ruling is based on the key constitutional principle that parliament only decides UK domestic law. By invoking Article 50 via royal prerogative, the government would have been ending all the rights for British citizens inherent in the 1972 European Communities Act.

That is not pedantic hair-splitting. It is big stuff. The sort of stuff which, in the past, led to a king losing his head and the country being riven by a bloody civil war.

But it really is key not to see this in terms of a parliamentary attempt to thwart the will of the people as expressed on June 23rd. I believe that decision will be respected by parliament.

The majority voted to leave the EU. But there was no detail in that advisory referendum as to the when and the how. That is where parliament comes in, to use its skills as our representatives to put the UK on the road to getting the best deal and the best route forward.

And thank goodness for that. The government have given confused and dangerous signals about how it intends to proceed with Brexit.

Parliament needs to be involved to ensure that when we get off the EU train, we have a platform to step out onto.

November 3, 2016
by Paul
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We must all examine our consciences regarding mobile phones in cars

geograph-3292071-by-david-dixonIt’s a local stretch of the A34 I know well. On August 10th we were all stunned and horrified by the terrible accident which occurred there, as reported by the Guardian:

A lorry driver who killed a woman and three children when his vehicle ploughed into their stationary car while he was scrolling through music on his mobile phone has been jailed for 10 years.

Tracy Houghton, 45, her sons, Ethan, 13, Josh, 11, and stepdaughter, Aimee, 11, died instantly when Tomasz Kroker drove his lorry into their car at 50mph. Their car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size. Continue Reading →

November 3, 2016
by Paul
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Article 50 ruling follows a monumental misjudgment by Theresa May

It is difficult not to see today’s High Court ruling as anything other than a disaster for Theresa May. The first big decision she made as PM turns out to have been a monumental misjudgment. She has been ruled out of order and, unless an appeal is successful, she’ll have to go cap in hand to Parliament.

Mike Smithson of Political Betting put it very well:

Tim Farron commented: Continue Reading →

October 23, 2016
by Paul
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Gary Lineker – a welcome voice of humanity


Gary Lineker has taken a bit of stick this week for comments (such as the one above) on Twitter. The Sun went to town on him and there were calls for him to be sacked from the BBC. Continue Reading →

October 15, 2016
by Paul
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A song across six decades that links the Moody Blues, the Four Tops and Billy Ocean

Billy Ocean has this year released a very strong version of “A Simple Game”.

This great song originates as a Moody Blues 1968 track, written and sung by Mike Pinder.

My favourite version is from the Four Tops from 1972. It is one of my Top 20 favourite songs. I think it is the Four Tops’ best track. Really exceptional.

Here are all three versions for you to compare:

October 6, 2016
by Paul
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The founding king of England encouraged an open, outward-looking country

Full marks to Tom Ash. Earlier this week he nailed an historic parallel for Brexit. That was Henry VIII and the reformation.

However, those who favour an open, outward-looking UK, can claim an older, greater precedent than the Brexit-like Henry VIII, who broke with Europe basically because he couldn’t perform in bed sufficiently to produce enough healthy sons. (OK, there’s a bit of historic licence there and I’m being a bit (a lot?) cheeky – apologies – and I also apologise to the Scots, Welsh, Irish and Cornish that this is all about England). Continue Reading →

September 16, 2016
by Paul
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“Devonwall” seat proposal – the government ignore Cornish pride at their peril

The Strand, Bude by paul walterThe Strand, Bude, Cornwall

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to be in a choir leading the singing of “Trelawny” in an ancient Cornish church. “Trelawny” or “The Song of Western Men” is the “unofficial Cornish national anthem” written by Rev R.S. Hawker. The congregation joined in with the choruses – most enthusiastically – and rapturous applause from “one and all” followed the song. It was a magical moment and reinforced that great feeling of community which one feels amongst Cornish people. There’s a real passion and pride about the Cornish nation.

The Boundary Commissioners and Theresa May should have been present at that church. I have a hunch that witnessing such strength of feeling, they would think again about their proposals for a “Devonwall” seat. The church in question is just south of Bude and part of the proposed parliamentary constituency of Bideford, Bude and Launceston, straddling Devon and Cornwall – or, I should say, Cornwall and England. Continue Reading →