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. Continue reading

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.
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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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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 ****”. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading