Liberal Burblings is a blog about politics and other passing fancies written by me, Paul Walter, a UK Liberal Democrat activist.

The blog went live here on on November 6th 2009, but was previously hosted on various other URLs; chalking up 6,500 posts since May 2006.

I was born in Cornwall, being part of the “Baby boomer” generation and a family that took its post-war repopulation duties very seriously (I have five brothers and one sister). I attended the local Primary school and was a server and chorister at the local church, St Michael’s. I come from a family of farmers/auctioneers (on my father’s side) and pilots/seamen (on my mother’s side). I have traced my surname family back to 1550 and Henry Walter, who was baptised in that year in Kilkhampton, Cornwall. My maternal grandfather was shipwrecked on the “Falmouth Castle” at Porthcurno, Cornwall. My paternal family ran the Walter Bank Hotel in Bridge Street, Bristol from about 1890 to 1919. My great-grandfather, William Thomas Kivell, founded Kivells, the West Country auctioneers and estate agents in 1885. My grand-father, father and brother ran the Bude branch of Kivell & Sons, as it was then, and my brother Phil still works for Kivells as an antiques and household effects auctioneer at the new Holsworthy Market. And, might I say, he is a damned good auctioneer! 

My first political involvement was dressing in orange (this was before the days of “You’ve been Tango’ed”) to attend primary school in support of John Pardoe, the Liberal MP, on election day 18th June 1970. I won a scholarship to attend West Buckland School, Barnstaple, Devon and was Head Prefect in 1976-77. During this time I appeared as a contestant on “Quiz Kid ’75” on Radio One, hosted by Alan Freeman.

At school I took a deep interest in history and current affairs. For example, I was particularly fascinated by the long drawn-out death of General Franco of Spain. I was also interested in the writings of Karl Marx, although appalled at how they spawned the ridiculous Soviet Union.

On leaving school I completed a “gap year” assignment working for Hampton and Sons, Estate Agents, in London and Jersey. I then completed a year at Reading University reading Land Management before deciding to attempt a career as a disc jockey. I enjoyed a few years doing part-time work for Radio 210 in Reading while doing warehouse work. I then became rather attached, oddly enough, to warehouse work, exhausted my enthusiasm for spinning discs, and have been loosely in the warehouse business (that is, the computer spare part logistics business) ever since.

I joined the Liberal Party in 1987 after being so moved by the death of David Penhaligon. I have been a keen (Liberal/Liberal Democrat) activist ever since. I have no political ambitions (I know what an MP and a councillor really do – they are both pants jobs) but enjoy being involved in politics as a hobby. I was a town councillor in Newbury from 2000 to 2007. I particularly enjoy delivering leaflets. Blogging allows me to tap away on the computer in my study next to our kitchen, with the door open, and still be in communication with my family.

In fact, blogging reflects an interest of mine which is more long-standing than my interest in politics – that of writing. At the age of nine I ran my own weekly “newspaper”, called the “Bude Weekly”, which I distributed to friends and family. From that age I used a typewriter and an old Gestetner duplicator. At the same time, my interest in language was unleashed by a wonderful English teacher called Charles Phelps. Ever since I have had an urge to type and write continuously and if I burble a bit too much it is perhaps partly because I type so quickly, so the whole blog thing becomes a stream of consciousness, to an extent.

In the period 1989 – 2008 this writing urge manifested itself through writing letters to newspapers, of which I had about 1,000 published. Since 2006 I have chanelled all my writing energy into this blog. Since 2011 I have also been part of the Liberal Democrat Voice editorial team.

Besides being interested in UK politics, I have had a deep interest in US politics since 1968. In that year, I decided to cheer on Hubert Humphrey in the presidential election against Richard Nixon – for no other reason than Humphrey’s head looked rather comical. My interest in US politics deepened considerably in 2000 when a brief illness gave me time to deeply study the events following the presidential election that year (the hanging/pregnant/dimpled chads episode etc). Since then I have followed US politics on a daily basis and a good proportion of my posts are about US politics. It provides me with a frivolous or vicarious escape route from the sometimes mind-numbing seriousness of UK politics. Sarah Palin has been a particular constant source of fascination to me.

My attachment to liberalism has been very resilient. One part of my family had Methodist roots. My grandmother campaigned for Isaac Foot, the Liberal MP for South-East Cornwall and Michael Foot’s father, and attended the Wesleyean chapel in Polruan. I feel an affinity for John Wesley and, for example, his campaign against slavery via encouraging people not to take sugar in tea (I don’t). I was born and brought up in one of the few constituencies in the country which had a Liberal MP. I saw Jeremy Thorpe at first hand when he visited Bude on a hovercraft (I kid you not) and was at school in North Devon when the whole “Bunnies/Rinka” business was ongoing.

One of my heroes is the late Lord Soper, who was leader of the Methodist church in England, and a regular speaker at Hyde Park Corner. Another of my heroes has always been Winston Churchill. I also find myself greatly attached, despite his faults, to the late Ted Kennedy and to William Gladstone. I am also a great fan of Shirley Williams and would run off a cliff if Paddy Ashdown told me to.

Perhaps the strongest thing underpinning my Liberalism is my Christian faith, although I am at pains to point out that Christianity, or indeed any other form of faith or none, can often lead people to all sorts of political conclusions, so I am not claiming Liberalism as necessarily the right answer. It is just my answer.