Paddy Ashdown: A Fortunate Life

It is a tribute to Paddy Ashdown’s varied and fascinating careers that even hardened politicos reading his autobiography, A Fortunate Life, do not express regret at how relatively briefly his British political career features in it.

Around two-thirds of the book document his times as a Royal Marine, in the Special Boat Service, then as a spy and finally, after time as an MP and leader of the Liberal Democrats, international peacemaker in the former Yugoslavia. Even if his time as leader of the Liberal Democrats had ended quickly in ignominious failure, Ashdown would have multiple impressive legacies to outweigh it. That in fact his time as leader saw remarkable success in rescuing the party from death’s door makes all but the most hardened reader end up feeling their life is just rather tame, straight-forward and under-performing compared to Ashdown’s.

With such brilliant raw material to pull from, the book itself has an easy time enchanting and moving the reader. The life story is so good that the occasional clumsy language hardly detracts, and the scale of the horrors that Ashdown saw – and in part stopped – in the former Yugoslavia was so gruesome that fancy writing is not needed for the accounts to have a huge emotional impact.

For those interested in politics, and in winning elections in particular, the chapter on how Paddy Ashdown won the Yeovil seat acts as an excellent short primer with his strategy for the constituency still reading well, three decades on.

Ashdown does not shy away from some of the controversies of his own life, including his affair and his own  personality, which could both entrance and enrage:

My favourite lunch at this time [the mid-1980s, after becoming an MP] was an hour in the gym and an apple at my desk, which must have made me quite insufferable to more normal inhabitants of the Westminster village.

Paddy Ashdown tells many stories against himself in a funny, self-deprecating account of a remarkably varied and successful life.

Buy Paddy Ashdown’s A Fortunate Life from Amazon here.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Books.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/27594 for Twitter and emails.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAustin Rathe 24th Apr - 8:31am
    David, we have never (in our surveys) asked any questions about the performance of individuals. Lib Dem Voice do ask those questions in their own...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 24th Apr - 8:31am
    I wouldn't be so sure about that, Caractacus. In Scotland, the Lib Dems have been praised by NUS for persuading the SNP Government to minimise...
  • User AvatarNick Tregoning 24th Apr - 8:18am
    Easter Clegg. This from the party led by Wallace.
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 24th Apr - 8:06am
    @Matthew Huntbach "Voting against tuition fees is not just voting against tuition fees, it is voting FOR however universities would be paid for if there...
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 24th Apr - 8:03am
    excellent post from MH at 11:13. if you want better services the message needs to be that more taxes are required from all, rather than...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 24th Apr - 7:55am
    @RC "And your instant recipe for implementing our student fees policy was what, exactly?" The study published today by the IFS is the latest evidence...