Interview: Life with Lord Ashdown is no Werther’s Originals advert

The Independent on Sunday carried an interview with former leader of the Liberal Democrats Paddy Ashdown. Among topics covered are his upcoming book on the Special Boat Service (in which he served), his 7oth birthday, the coalition, the MOD and the situation in Libya.

Here’s an extract from the piece:

“Being a party in government requires a completely different approach but I am astonished at the maturity that, by and large, the party has taken to that. There are some who still want to live in the cloud cuckoo, never-neverland of opposition. I have always said there is no point being a Liberal if you are not prepared to take the risks to put into practice in government and influence the lives of the people of your country, according to your principles. You take risks and make compromises for that.”

Things will be done differently in future. Bold election pledges – like the ill-fated student fees abolition – will be avoided. And a new strategy of preserving the party’s identity while not undermining the coalition will be shaped over the coming months, including spelling out policy victories over the Tories even if it irritates their coalition colleagues.

“There are some things this government has done which are entirely down to Liberal Democrats – 800,000 people taken out of paying tax, the Pupil Premium, the protection of the schools budget, the reversal of some of the appalling intrusions into our civil liberties and human rights, the fact we all have a choice about the future electoral system. These are down to us. I think we nevertheless have to have some eye towards the cohesion of the Government. If you are a government you have to represent your party but you have to govern for your country.”

You can read the interview in full here.

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3 Comments

  • The voice of reason and sanity. We love you Paddy!

  • Paddy
    I’m sorry but you can’t claim both ‘the protection of the schools budget’ and the pupil premium.

    The schools budget is only protected because of provision of the pupil premium (for which I do applaud the Lib Dems). There are two misleaidng problems with this; firstly that it implies the schools budget has been protectected AND the pupil premium is now in place and that secondly this is a very narrow definition of a schools budget. The term ‘ the schools budget’ for instance does not cover education for 16 to 18 year oldss; thus sixth form funding is being reduced. If you are at a school with sixth form then the overall effect is a reduction in funding. This is before one also factors in that such ‘protection’ comes at the price of a two year wage freeze for teachers.

    The school where I teach (a comprehensive in inner London) faces a shortfall of £700,000 per year from its budget. The only clear way to soften this blow is to become an academ….. a situation that no-one (governors,leadership, teachers, parents) wants on educational grounds but all are being strong armed into accepting for financial reasons.

    To blithely claim the schools budget is being protected is a matter of semantics and a willful mispresentation of the real situation.

    I actually appreciate the work of the Lib Dems in relation to this so that is not meant to be criticial of the party but rather to point out that it leads to a complacent view of the actual situation regarding the financing of education in this country.

  • Muxloe: “become an academy, a situation that no-one (governors,leadership, teachers, parents) wants on educational grounds”

    May I enquire as to what are the educational objections to Academy status?

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