Tag Archives: paddy ashdown

Paddy: We’re one mistake away from war in Ukraine

Paddy AshdownWhenever there’s a horrible international situation, I always want to hear what Paddy Ashdown has to say. He’s very wise on all the intricate web of international relations, agendas and history. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s worth listening to because he’ll tell it exactly like he sees it. He makes it all so much more real.

He’s just been on Murnaghan talking about the situation in Ukraine. Unfortunately, he confirmed my feeling that the world is a very much more scary place this weekend.

He was very clear that one foolish mistake could tip a volatile situation into war. That, he said, could be one “trigger-happy” Russian soldier opening fire, a Ukrainian misjudgement of a situation. Something that could very easily happen in the heat of a tense moment.

He said that it wasn’t clear what the Russians were up to. He said it was possible, but unlikely, that their ambitions were limited to securing their international treaty defined rights of access to the port of Sevastopol rather than wider territorial gain. He likened Putin’s stance to Hitler’s over Sudetenland as opposed to the modern Western view that the fate of nations is subject to the view of its people.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , and | 51 Comments

Paddy and Jane Ashdown shaken by fatal car accident

Paddy AshdownThe Telegraph reports that Paddy and Jane Ashdown were involved in a road accident  yesterday afternoon on the A356 near Crewkerne.  A Vauxhall Corsa clipped their car, and the driver of the Corsa, Mark Hurford, sadly died at the scene.

Paddy Ashdown said:

We were coming back from the station and my wife was driving me home. We were about a mile outside Crewkerne and a car came around the corner.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

LDVideo: Paddy Ashdown gets BBC’s Norman Smith’s name wrong

On Tuesday, Paddy Ashdown was sent to do the rounds of the media outlets as a robust voice of reason. He was on a bit of a mission to tackle the idea that the Liberal Democrats were showing themselves up as not fit for government. Of course, those commentators in the media making that point didn’t balance it up with any credit for being 20% of the government but contributing so many decent policies. I mean, whatever you feel about the efficacy of raising the tax threshold as a means of tackling poverty, it’s a promise kept. As is the Pupil Premium, investing money to give disadvantaged kids the best chance in life. Then there’s the total sense on mental health. That’s an area that’s suffered from chronic underinvestment for a long time. Things won’t be sorted overnight, but it’s good to have a Deputy PM and a Health Minister who get it, who understand the effects of being dropped from all the support at the age of 18. When you live in a place like Scotland, where the Health Minister really doesn’t get it and vulnerable kids are having to wait a year to even see a psychiatrist, you really appreciate the changes happening south of the border.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

How can we do politics better?

There’s been a spate of articles and comments by Liberal Democrat politicians which, at a guess, isn’t co-ordinated, but they all address the same themes – the problems with the way that we do politics and lack of trust in politicians and institutions.

Paddy Ashdown told the Times (£), reported also for free in the Guardian that public faith in British institutions was “crumbling into dust” with some very harsh words for the BBC and NHS:

The BBC is revealed as an organisation which can’t manage its own affairs, misspends public money and seems to have been complicit in aggrandising

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 46 Comments

Paddy Ashdown warned Thatcher about CIA’s activities

Paddy AshdownEach New Year brings the unveiling of Government files from 30 years ago. This year’s revelations include some highly topical references to CIA approaches to British citizens.

In 1984 Margaret Thatcher ruled. Paddy Ashdown was one of 23  SDP/Liberal Alliance MPs – he did not become Leader of the Liberal Democrats until the merger of the Social Democrat and the Liberal parties in 1988. Before he entered Parliament he had been an MI6 officer, so he was well placed to observe the CIA’s activities.

According to today’s Guardian, this is what …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Kirsty Williams interview: “Scary” Paddy, women in the Cabinet and the reality of a Labour government

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has given a lively and often funny interview to Total Politics magazine in which she talks about everything from her success in persuading the minority  Labour government in Wales to implement the Pupil Premium.

What happened to the last person who said no to Paddy?

Anyone who knows Kirsty will know how down to earth she is and that comes across very much in the interview. She’s asked about whether she would move to Westminster and said that Paddy Ashdown has already asked that question:

Paddy says I should think about going to London,” Williams reveals. “He’s

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FREE: Extract of Paddy

Aurum Press, the publishers of Paddy Ashdown’s bestselling autobiography A Fortunate Life, have released a chapter of the book for free download.

It’s called 1983 – The Winning of Yeovil, and as I wrote in 2009:

MP also stands for Military Precision, so it’s no surprise that Paddy Ashdown’s campaign to become MP for Yeovil was long on discipline and short on creature comforts.

If you haven’t packed a book for the train to Conference yet, 1983 – The Winning of Yeovil is vital reading for all Liberal Democrat campaigners. And as is typical of the Chair of the Party’s …

Posted in Books and News | Also tagged | 2 Comments

LibLink…Paddy Ashdown: After the Syria vote, Britain must not sleepwalk into isolationism

Paddy Ashdown has been writing about the implications of the Syria vote for the Guardian’s Comment is Free site. First, he pretty much repeats what he said on Friday:

There are strange paradoxes here. It is possible to be both proud of a parliament that said no to the executive on a matter like military action. But sad; even – dare I say it – a little ashamed at the decision it took.

Of course there are reasons for this. The leftover poisons of the Iraq war; the toxic effect of public distrust in our politics. Mishandling by the government. President Obama’s

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 98 Comments

Clegg, Ashdown, Williams & Hughes set out case for action in Syria

Writing in tonight’s London Evening Standard, Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes, Paddy Ashdown and Shirley Williams set out the case for international action in Syria.

After describing the horrors of  chemical weapons, they declare:

We four believe a strong response from the international community is now necessary.

Posted in LibLink and News | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

Syria: what do Liberal Democrats want?

Last night we brought you Nick Clegg’s view on Syria, which can be summarised as follows:

  • if we stand idly by we set a very dangerous precedent
  • the use of chemical weapons is a repugnant crime
  • we will not stand idly by when chemical weapons are used in complete breach of international law
  •  Government “is not going to act outside the remit of international law”
  • we want to stand up for the standards and norms in the civilised world

In the last couple of days Paddy Ashdown and Sir Menzies Campbell, two of the most respected voices this country has on foreign affairs, have been …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 46 Comments

LibLink (Down Memory Lane Edition) | Paddy Ashdown – ‘After the conflict, a bright dawn for the Democrats’

Paddy Ashdown campaigning25 years ago, Paddy Ashdown became leader of the party then known officially as the Social and Liberal Democrats. Here’s an excerpt from what he wrote for The Guardian on his first morning as leader:

Hope, said Francis Bacon, is a good breakfast, but a poor supper. On my first morning as the new leader of a new party, standing at seven per cent in the opinion polls, I know what he meant! But at the end of a bruising and often damaging period in the fortunes of the Social

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

What has my marriage got to do with the Liberal Democrats?

More than you would think, I guess. My long-suffering husband at least went into our union with his eyes open. If there wasn’t actually a large bird of liberty in the room at the registry office, he knew that the party would play a large part in our lives together. And even then, I think it’s played an even bigger part than he anticipated and he’s dealt with it with patience, fortitude and humour. Most of the time, anyway.

Why is this even relevant? Well, it’s a Summer of 25th anniversaries. Next month, we will have been married for 25 years. Yesterday, it was 25 years since Paddy Ashdown was elected as leader and this video was released by the Party to celebrate.

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Will Ed Miliband “do a John Smith” and push for an early EU in/out referendum? There are advantages, y’know…

John Major and David CameronCould Labour be about to “do a John Smith” to the Tories over the timing of an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union?

In the 1990s, Labour wrought havoc on the fourth-term Tory government by (cynically) teaming up with the right-wing ‘Maastricht rebels’ to inflict damaging Commons defeats on their common enemy, John Major.

Could Ed Miliband try and do the same to David Cameron? That’s the hint in today’s Guardian:

Labour is considering backing an in-out referendum on Europe as early as

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Paddy Ashdown: Arming Syrian rebels could make things worse

Paddy Ashdown went on Murnaghan to say in no uncertain terms that now was not the time to be even talking about arming Syrian rebels and cautioned against any actions which could sound like a “Desist or we send our arms” message to Assad. The problem with that approach, he said, is that if you make a threat, you have to carry it out or nobody will ever believe what you say again.

I’ve been busy on Storify this morning.  My tweets summarising his comments are here. Here’s a selection:

Posted in News | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Ashdown says package offered to Afghan interpreter doesn’t “fulfill our debt of honour”

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that the Government had changed its mind and would allow Afghan intepreters to settle in this country. This is something that Paddy Ashdown and Nick Clegg had argued for vociferously.

However, as details of the scheme have emerged, they have been dismissed as insufficient by various people, including Paddy Ashdown as the Times (£) reports:

Senior politicians have accused the Government of mistaken priorities in their handling of safeguards for British Army interpreters when UK forces leave Afghanistan.

Only those interpreters who were still in British service on December 19, 2012, will be offered 

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown win the argument on Afghan interpreters

The BBC reports:

Up to 600 Afghan interpreters who worked alongside British troops are to be given the right to live in the UK, government sources have confirmed.

The plan marks a climbdown from ministers who had decided they should not get the same UK resettlement rights as interpreters in the Iraq conflict.

Afghan interpreters who worked on the front line for a year or more will initially be offered a five-year visa.

This is something, as we reported 3 weeks ago, that Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown have been arguing for.

Earlier this week, Paddy Ashdown said that it was Downing Street …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

LibLink…Paddy Ashdown: Let us not leave Afghanistan with this final gesture of betrayal and dishonour

Paddy Ashdown has written a hard-hitting article for the Yorkshire Post in which he implores the Government to give Afghan interpreters who have helped UK troops the right to come to the UK.

The interpreters and their families live under threat from the Taliban:

These men are different from our troops in this sense: our troops can be sure that their families are home, secure and safe, in Britain, whereas they cannot.

Their families live, day in and day out, threatened by mortal threat from the Taliban in Afghan society.

Our troops come home every six or nine months, whereas they do not. They

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Paddy Ashdown: Liberal Youth are absolutely fantastic

Liberal Youth’s Gold Guard effort during the local election campaign saw them campaign vigorously all over the country. There were action days from Berwick to Cambridge to Somerset and every night an hour was set aside to call for a specific candidate.

Some of the party’s most treasured figures put together this video to thank them, and it was emailed to their members last night. Well, Paddy said a little more than thank you, but he’s allowed, because we are obliged to obey his every instruction between now and 2015.

We thought you might like to see it.

Rumour has it, by the …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown say that Afghan interpreters should have the right to live in the UK

Almost exactly four years ago, Nick Clegg, as an opposition party leader, led a debate in Parliament in which the Labour Government was defeated on its plans to restrict the rights of Gurkhas to settle in the UK. David Cameron was keen to get himself into the photos with Joanna Lumley at the time.

Four years on, and Clegg and Cameron have opposing views on whether Afghan interpreters who helped our soldiers in that country should be allowed to settle here. Today’s Times (£) reports that the Prime Minister, along with Theresa May and Philip Hammond are against allowing …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

AD LIB digital edition – teething problems solved

Hopefully all of you have had the chance to have a play with the new AD LIB interactive digital edition which was launched this month.

If not, why not have a play now?

Remember, this issue is free to all party members.

As well as all the good stuff you get with the paper copy, the digital edition has a number of interactive elements. If you want to listen to Paddy’s conference speech while reading his cover interview, you can. If you’re intrigued about Eluned Parrott’s ‘On the Record’ music choices, you can click straight to the music videos. And if you …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Paddy Ashdown pays tribute to Margaret Thatcher (and shows Nick how it’s done)

MPs in the Commons and peers in the Lords have been queuing up this afternoon to record their tributes to Margaret Thatcher, including both Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown.

To read both their tributes, please scroll down the page.

Nick’s come in for some stick on Twitter, mostly from right-wing MPs/journalists, for instance Mark Reckless and Sarah Wollaston; even the usually fair-minded Isabel Hardman of The Spectator called it “sour”. I’ve both read and watched Nick’s remarks and don’t buy that criticism at all.

But two things do strike me. First, it’s a very perfunctory speech. The only two personal comments he makes are a nod to his Sheffield constituency (“where the mere mention of her name even now elicits strong reactions”) and a rather glib aside about her infamous “there’s no such thing as society” quote (I say glib because there’s a lot more to the quote than that: disagree with it by all means, but recognise there was a context to it).

Secondly, and more disappointingly, it tells us nothing about Nick and his views on Margaret Thatcher. Yes, of course the tribute is about her, not him; but surely everyone who grew up in the 1980s has a view on what she got right and what she got wrong? What’s Nick’s? Instead, he squirms round it equivocally: she “elicits” strong views… “whether people liked or disliked her”“remember her with all the nuance, unresolved complexity and paradox that she possessed.” There is a studied, deliberate vagueness here. I want to know what Nick thought then; and what he really thinks now. I think the closest we probably get to that is his observation that “much of her politics was subtle and pragmatic”: that’s the aspect I suspect Nick admires.

That’s why those Clegg-critics who sniped at Nick’s tribute surprise me: there’s far too little of him in his speech, not too much.

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , and | 87 Comments

AD LIB: Digital edition on its way

Paddy Ashdown cover of Ad Lib magazineWhen AD LIB launched last December one message we got back loud and clear, not least from Lib Dem Voice readers, was that you want a digital version.

Well, we’ve only gone and done it. And, what’s more, it will be available next week.

We’ve been working hard with the good people of PageSuite to get the digital edition ready to launch alongside the publication of April’s magazine, which will land through letterboxes next Tuesday (after the Bank Holiday).

And we’re making it a truly interactive experience …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 7 Comments

Bloggers unite to oppose “botched late-night drafting” that proposes new press/web regulation

I’m one of 17 signatories (on behalf of LibDemVoice) to a letter published in Saturday’s Guardian, reproduced below, which opposes the “fundamental threat” of the draft legislation approved this week by MPs of all parties which would regulate blogs and other small independent news websites.

It’s not often you’ll see us, ConservativeHome, LabourList, Guido Fawkes, Liberal Conspiracy and Political Scrapbook agree on something. But what we term the “botched late-night drafting process and complete lack of consultation” has, for once, brought us together. And, as the letter notes, perhaps even more remarkably got Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch agreeing, too.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 24 Comments

LDVideo: Lib Dem spring conference round-up (2)

Missed the Lib Dems’ spring conference this weekend? Here are three clips to help you catch-up, or re-live, some of what happened… (You can see part 1 of our round-up here.)

Nick Clegg criticises Theresa May’s Human Rights Convention comments

Posted in Conference and YouTube | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

LDVideo: Lib Dem spring conference round-up (1)

Missed the Lib Dems’ spring conference this weekend? Here are three clips to help you catch-up, or re-live, some of what happened…

“Where we work we win” says Nick Clegg

Posted in Conference and YouTube | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Paddy: “You’ve heard the saying it’s not the winning that matters, it’s the taking part. That’s b*****ks.”

Paddy Ashdown video screenshotPaddy Ashdown, Chair of the Liberal Democrat General Election Campaign, is about to speak to the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference. Here’s what he’ll say:

You know, making this speech today gives me a strong sense of déjà vu. I gave a speech at the Conference here in Brighton, right after the last time we won a by election in Eastleigh!

Some things haven’t changed. Orange diamonds. Fighting against the odds, Simon Hughes. But one big thing has changed. We were a Party of Opposition then. We’re a party

Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Opinion: Five reasons to go to Eastleigh to help Mike Thornton’s campaign…

Paddy at Eastleigh

It’s really, really close and this election looks like it could shape the general election. This is the time to take a stand and prove that Lib Dems can hold onto Lib Dem seats. We have good things to offer people, we have brought things to the coalition (think pupil premium and the £10,000 tax-threshold) and we have limited some of the more extreme conservative policies.  But to get people to recognise this we have to get the word out and the way to do

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

LibLink…Paddy Ashdown: If you’re opposed to drones, then think again

In Liberal Democrat circles, when Barack Obama is discussed, it’s generally agreed that he’s doing a grand job except for the not insignificant matter of the extra-judicial killings and the use of unmanned drone attacks.

Paddy Ashdown has expressed a different view writing in today’s Times describing drones as the most “democratic” weapon ever invented.

As a lifelong peace-loving hippy, you’d expect that I would have been the first to head Paddy’s advice:

 war is a revolting practice and cannot be discussed without using revolting words. So the squeamish and those morally offended by all violence should look away now.

I didn’t, though. Partly …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 19 Comments

Caron’s pick of the Federal Spring Conference agenda

Spring 2013 Federal Conference agendaIt’s just over three weeks until Liberal Democrats gather in Brighton for our annual Federal Spring Conference. This morning the agenda landed on my doorstep and I thought I’d share my highlights with you.

If you can, it’s worth trying to get there for 3 pm on Friday 8th March for the consultation sessions. This is an important part of the policy making process, where ordinary party members can have their say as policy documents are being written. Most of them are on issues which apply to the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Next week in the Lords: 4-7 February

House of LordsStrangely enough, in the absence of a Lords Reform Bill to debate (and who’s sorry now?), things are relatively quiet on the red benches. Quiet, but not exactly dead, I’m delighted to say. And now that Paddy Ashdown has hit Twitter, life is going to be a bit more exciting. And talking of Twitter, don’t forget that our Parliamentary Party in the Lords has its own Twitter feed. And yes, those are real Peers tweeting, in live time. So, what might they be covering next week?

On Monday, …

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