Vince Cable’s new year message

Yesterday Vince Cable released his new year message:

If we want 2018 to be better than 2017, then we need a big team, pulling together and fighting for our party’s values.

Watch @VinceCable’s New Year message now – then join our team for 2018:

Now more than ever as Brexit’s wheels fall off we need to stand together to fix an increasingly broken and divided Britain. Not so long ago Britain was at its most united during the London 2012 Olympics. We have fallen a long way since then as Britain now stands on the brink of being broken up by ‘Unionists’, weaker than it has ever been.

We now know that Brexit is a train crash in slow motion. Brexit means Wrexit.

Membership of the Liberal Democrats nationally and in Shropshire is at record levels. As we move into 2018 it is to time stand up and make noise.




Education march against Conservative cuts

David Walker & local Lib Dems Marching in Shrewsbury against Shropshire School Cuts

This month I have been on two marches organised to defend local services from Conservatives cuts. Strangely, no Conservative MPs were present at the march. Conservative Councillors were in short supply too.

David Walker & local Lib Dems Marching in Shrewsbury against Shropshire School Cuts
David Walker & local Lib Dems Marching in Shrewsbury against Shropshire School Cuts
David Walker discussing cuts with BBC reporter, and Lib Dems, including Susan Lockwood, Councillor Heather Kidd and Whittington Councillor, Romer Hoseason
David Walker discussing cuts with BBC reporter, and Lib Dems, including Susan Lockwood, Councillor Heather Kidd and Whittington Councillor, Romer Hoseason

On the 11th I was on the march against £13.4m cuts to schools funding in Shropshire. I joined hundreds of parents, children teachers & concerned members of the public in a March against Conservative school cuts.

As a former Shropshire County Councillor who held an Education Portfolio in the Cabinet, I know how important good education is.

Having a good education is vital for our children’s future life choices. It is the foundation of our economy. We need a well-educated population to improve overall productivity, create wealth and jobs. In the new post-Brexit world this will be even more important!

Schools serving Whittington & West Felton are going to lose nearly £1m by 2020 and Shropshire faces losing £13.4m across the county. These figures have been estimated by the NUT.

Shropshire needs fair funding. I made this call a decade ago when I was a councillor. Other areas like ours have consistently received more money than Shropshire for a long time. Despite reviews claiming to bring fair funding Shropshire always misses out. With Conservatives controlling the Government and Shirehall,  you would think they would work together and get this issue sorted out. If we got anything like the money Cornwall gets we wouldn’t see anything like the funding problems we do now.

Shropshire Conservatives cost schools extra – over £1m

The Conservative Government are also cutting over £500,000 from our schools. This is on top of the £13.4m. From April our schools are being forced to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. Shropshire Lib Dems asked the Tory Administration to lobby the government to exempt schools but they voted against it.

The Conservative government have scrapped the Educational Support Grant worth £1.2m – local Conservatives councillors voted down a budget amendment from the Lib Dems to scrap £643,000 of local cuts by using money from the Council’s large computing budget.

I am really angry that the Conservatives are clawing back, even more money from our local schools. Money is tight as it is. On top of all this, schools are also seeing rises in the farcical Business Rate changes coming next April. Whittington Primary school rates are going up 22% & West Felton Primary school rates are going up 15%. I imagine the business rate rises will get covered somewhere, so the schools don’t pay it directly, but somebody has to pay it. Schools should be zero rated.

The definition of a false economy.

Traffic figures show alarming jump

David Walker at looking at the traffic at Queens Head Junction
David Walker at looking at the traffic at Queens Head Junction
The Queens Head junction continues to be a concern. As traffic levels rise, the need for action is becoming more urgent all the time.

The latest available Road Traffic Accident data was released last October. The data for Whittington and West Felton Parishes broadly follows the trend shown in increasing traffic numbers across the country. However, the provisional data to June 2016 shows a potentially worrying spike. The last column on the right shows that the first half of 2016 had nearly eclipsed the annual total of the year before. If that trend continued through the rest of 2016 then 2016 would have had double the accidents of the year before and of the average since 2008.

The last column on the right shows that the first half of 2016 had nearly eclipsed the annual total in 2015 and matched the average of the years before (13 accidents.)

Whittington and West Felton Crash Statistics
Whittington and West Felton Crash Statistics

If that trend continued through the rest of 2016, then 2016 would have had double the accidents of the average since 2008. If there were no more accidents in the rest of 2016 then the figures would be on average. The later would be welcome but not a reason for complacency. Odds are that it is the former.

Residents have expressed concern about the A5 and the traffic growth for years. Some have called for the A5 to be converted to a dual carriageway and others have called for the addition of round-a-bouts at Queens Head and at Shotatton crossroads. The original design of this junction was questionable. It is clear to everybody who uses these junctions, on a daily basis, that the potential for serious problems is of growing concern. Far better to sort out these inadequate junctions before something serious happens. Over to you Highways England…. is a useful site for seeing the location and details of reported road traffic accidents. The full 2016 figures will be made available by the department of transport next June

Crash map showing the range of incidents around the Queens Head junction from 2009 to June 2016

Lib Dems Gain two seats and one council

Another Thursday and another set of fabulous council by-election results for the Liberal Democrats – a weekly occurrence for the Liberal Democrats in 2016 after making 28 net gains. That trend is already off to a barn-storming start to 2017.

Tonight the Liberal Democrats have taken two seats (both of tonight’s by-elections) one from the Conservatives in Three Rivers and one from Labour in Sunderland. Both with big swings to the Lib Dems.

In the week of Jeremy Corbyn’s big, disastrous, relaunch, labour lost in Sunderland with a 36% swing. It looked on paper to be a LAB/UKIP contest with the Lib Dems in 4th with 4.5% only last May. In the referendum a month later 61% voted LEAVE on June 23rd.

In Three Rivers the Lib Dems gained the seat with a swing of 23% from Conservatives to the Lib Dems. 51% voted LEAVE here during the referendum. Yet the Lib Dems stormed to victory GAINED the seat and took overall control of Three Rivers Council in the process.

Another altogether excellent day for the Liberal Democrats.

2016 – a year of contrasts

2016 has been an interesting year, full of contrasts and 2017 looks like being the same.

On a personal level, I have found happiness again with a relationship that has shifted my thinking considerably, caused me to turn my eyes away from my hometown of Bridgnorth towards North Shropshire again and West Felton in particular. Of these shifts is my decision to hitch my Wagon to Sandra and West Felton at the beginning of the year has resulted in another decision to stand for Shropshire Council for Whittington Ward in next May’s Elections. It is now over a decade since I was a County Councillor and my life has changed beyond recognition. Losing my seat by 38 votes & going through the wringer, several times over, in my personal life certainly changes your priorities and your perspective. Losing your wife 1 month before your 1st Wedding Aniversary and being made redundant does teach you life lessons most of us could do without learning but eventually have to. However, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger and I am a much stronger person than I have ever been before.

On a political front, we have had Brexit tear up all of the accepted political norms of left and right. The spectrum of Libertarian, freedom and openness versus Authoritarian, centralised and closed has now taken a much bigger profile in the public mood. The political establishment, both the Conservatives and Labour, are deeply divided. The polarisation through the Brexit prism will certainly make the next set of elections very interesting. To top it all off the new World Leader is a nut cluster who will only make the world a less safe place.

For the Liberal Democrats, the year has seen their star rise once more, winning a host of council by-elections in 2016, a parliamentary by-election in Richmond park and two cracking results for the Lib Dems in both Whitney and Sleaford.  So the Lib Dems have 28 Net Gains in Council by-elections with swings of over 20%. In Westmister terms, their average vote share has gone up by nearly 20% to over 30%.

Above all else lets hope 2017 is a great year and that we all can find hope and happiness again.

The future is bright, the future is… Liberal

Interesting couple of articles that illustrate the challenge ahead in today’s politics following the 2015 General Election. A Threat for Labour that conversely has presented an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.

1 The Practical Guide to Centre Left schisms

2 The strange death of Labour Britain has a worrying precedent

Both articles explain how a party can fall far from grace in a short time. The Liberals in the Former and potentially Labour in the latter.

Despite the drubbing in the 2015 election the Liberal Democrats are on fire and rejuvenated. How is this possible?? To understand this you need to understand the context of British Politics today.

Society has changed beyond recognition over the last twenty years and the pace of change is faster and more dynamic than the ability of political parties to change.

The fragmentation of politics has become very pronounced where once it was a simple left and right. The big two parties of the modern era are but shadows of their former selves, leaving the ground open for other parties and for single issue campaign groups.

This isn’t just being felt by Politics. The Internet and technological changes are allowing people to interact in unimaginable ways just 10 years ago. The media faces some of the biggest challenges, more often than not having to reinvent themselves or die.

Household institutions across the board are being similarly tested. Many who stay true to what they were and carry on like they always have, have withered and died in the face of upstart competition that has adapted to today’s consumers.

The most effective and successful party in the modern arena will be the one best able to adapt and work with the natural flow and not stick to old habits that mean they are working across the public grain.

A century ago, the Liberals fragmented when they couldn’t adapt quick enough to the changes in society. Changes in society initiated by the industrial revolution and the Victorian era, fanned by the flames of the Great War and trouble in Ireland, through to the labour movement and votes for Women, were all unprecedented. Yet the Liberals changed little, failed to adapt and ultimately perished as a party of government.

Many commentators lampooned the Lib Dems immediately after the election, claiming that the Liberal Democrats had suffered a similar fate to their Liberal predecessors, destined for obscurity for a generation of more.

However, this overly simplistic narrative forgets that politics is driven by the society of the day, the effects of which can not be immediately felt or seen.

So quite perversely, some might say, the Liberal Democrats may now be in the best place to make changes and adapt their party the quickest to today’s society.

Britain at its core is a Liberal Country


Britain at its core is a Liberal Country that has enshrined fairness and freedom in its values for generations. A recent poll by YouGov shows just how much the middle ground of politics has opened up for the Lib Dems. British values are generally Liberal values. Yet the electorate have for decades been presented by a simplistic choice of left and right when really most people are in the centre, in the same space that they believe the Lib Dems to exist.

Today’s society believes in a less over bearing state, individual freedom and choice, fairness and compassion, tolerance etc. These are all Liberal values.

Liberals believe in individual freedom, a less interfering or oppressive state, fairness for all – empowering everybody to be the best they can be, whilst ensuring this is applied to everybody… not just the many and most definitely not just a lucky few.

Liberalism needs reuniting. Liberalism needs reiterating and explaining.

The Lib Dems through their enforced rebirth now have a golden opportunity to win over hearts and minds of the British Electorate. No small task but recent by-election wins and the rapid surge in membership and shown the field is open for the Lib  Dems to permanently break the mold of British Politics. Lib Dems across the country now have new hope. Hope that they must enshrine through the country.

Bridgnorth Lib Dems launch new website

Bridgnorth Liberal Democrats have launched a new website at

Despite a drubbing at the General Election last May, the Lib Dems have seen a massive surge in membership, both nationally and locally. Between the Election and the close of registration to vote for the new Lib Dem Leader, there was over a 34% rise in membership – the vast majority of which had never been a Lib Dem before or been politically active. Over 18,000 have now joined the Lib Dems. Click here if you would like to join the Lib Dems and the #libdemfightback

Last week the Lib Dems elected their new Leader – Tim Farron MP – watch Tim’s first speech following his victory:

The Lib Dems are going from strength to strength at the moment. Despite only having 8 MP’s, they have already galvanised opposition blocked Conservative Legislation in the Commons and will use their strength in the Lords to do more of the same. Labour so far have been divided and weak. Since May the Lib Dems have had several by-election wins – gaining seats from the Conservatives and Labour (3 last week alone).

With renewed energy and hope the Lib Dems will be rebuilding at quite a pace.

Election Leaflet hits doormats

With the elections for Shropshire Council in full swing and postal votes imminent for those who have opted to vote that way, our elections leaflets are hitting the doormats over the next few days.

Here is Helen Howell’s and my first leaflet currently being delivered:

Tossing my hat back into the ring

Today Shropshire Council has released lists of Candidates Nominated for the Unitary Election on May the 2nd. I can confirm that my nomination papers were accepted and my nomination now appears on the list for Bridgnorth West & Tasley Division. I am once again standing for the LibDems along with my dear friend and former Mayor of Bridgnorth, Helen Howell. In a few days once the window for people to withdraw from the election closes, the field will be set and the election will begin in earnest.

7 sitting Councillors are unopposed, so they will be returned without an election. No great for democracy but I am sure they will be chuffed to bits.

Why am I standing? Well, it is 8 years since I lost my County Council seat. In that time, all the fundamental issues that Bridgnorth faced then have remained in place, un-addressed by Bridgnorth’s Unitary Councillors – a rapidly ageing population in part due to a lack of suitable affordable housing and local jobs. Our younger people are leaving Bridgnorth for further education or work, many not returning. This is unsustainable and means that those older people that remain have to shoulder more and more of the council tax burden.

Tough times continue to roll

No sign of the economy turning round completely any time soon.

I have been fortunate to have had a few shares during this recession. Bye and large these shares have done OK and have helped me through the recession. But as the down turn stretches ever longer – even that extra income can’t keep coming to my aid. The only way this country’s ship is going to turn around is through growth.

The Coalition Government have been right to cut back the excesses of the previous wasteful government – even if it was painful. It has been painful for me personally, with reduced hours followed by redundancy. But the Coalition needs to remember it has to be a two pronged attack to turn the economy round. So far they have done some things to encourage growth. Some things here… Some things there. But now they need to pick up the pace, set the agenda and set the pace!

They have the talent. Now is the time to show us what you have got and show this whole enterprise has been worthwhile.