Paddy Ashdown has been in very combative form on the EU Referendum. Actually, the one debate I would love to see would be Paddy vs Boris. Our former leader would show up the Mayor’s vacuous, disingenuous rhetoric for what it is.
Paddy is truly getting out there and taking the fight right to Brexiteers in a way that nobody else has managed. He’s been pretty punchy on Twitter for the last few weeks:
At last the facts. Gove: Brexit means opening the door to cheap food world-wide. Goodbye UK Agriculture. Been nice knowing you. Steel next?
— Paddy Ashdown (@paddyashdown) April 19, 2016
— Paddy Ashdown (@paddyashdown) April 5, 2016
Brexit: Bnk of England wrong. IMF wrong. NATO wrong. EU wrong. C'wealth wrong Obama wrong. Boris right OK But wld you bet the country on it?
— Paddy Ashdown (@paddyashdown) April 16, 2016
Last night he was on Question Time. All he asked Liam Fox and Kate Hoey to do was to provide the name of one respected, independent international organisation who thinks it’s a good idea for us to leave the EU. They couldn’t.
There was one moment of comedy gold from Hoey, too. Paddy had said that it was perfectly fine for Obama, as our ally, to give his views on the referendum, especially as the US had a history of stepping in to help us when we needed it. He also called out Hoey for calling the US President a patronising hypocrite. She objected, denying she had said that, because what she had really said was that he was being patronising and hypocritical. You couldn’t make it up.
You can watch the whole episode on iPlayer here. It’s an hour of your life you won’t regret giving up.
The audience seemed more stacked against Paddy and the EU than the polls would suggest. That shows that we need more of his passion and punch in the pro EU argument. As one of the country’s most respected internationalists, we should be seeing a lot of him in the next 2 months.
What we’re missing, though, is the sort of humour and thoughtfulness that Charles Kennedy would have brought to the campaign. We need to find a way to tug on people’s heartstrings with his sort of warmth and reasonableness, too. Success for the pro-EU campaign means not just a majority of the votes on June 23rd, it’s about winning enough hearts and minds to stop the sort of division we have seen in Scotland.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings