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.

I could go on for quite a lot longer when it comes to the great stuff Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone have been doing around body confidence, violence against women in the UK and beyond, tackling payday lenders, putting together an action plan for transgender people (which, by the way, needs a bit of reviving now Lynne’s not responsible any more), shared parental leave and I haven’t even started on Steve Webb and pensions yet.

Yes, of course I have my “lock me in a cupboard with a bottle of gin” list of things I don’t like, but the good outweighs the bad.

Anyway, Paddy added the point that it was our internal democracy which had helped preserve unity in the party during the course of the Coalition. The grassroots had had the chance to have their say and as a result we are in a much better state of togetherness than the Tories.

In a way he’s right – we don’t all agree, but we don’t disappear off into factions and kick lumps out of each other. We’ll occasionally kick lumps out of each other over certain issues, but threaten civil liberties and we’re all standing side by side again. We also expect to have debates about stuff. We can argue, often passionately, about issues and not fall out. It’s part of the liberal nature. Anyone who tries to fit us into some sort of binary is mistaken. Our inter-relationships are much more complex than that. If you join the Tories, you don’t expect to have any influence at all, and in Labour your say is tiny in comparison to that of the unions and the upper end of the party hierarchy. As a normal Liberal Democrat member you can, actually, shape government policy. Yes, of course, the leadership ignores the will of the party in the same way that every leadership since, well, ever, has done so, but they couldn’t do without us, however much they think they might like to.

Anyway, back to Paddy. His interview was a lot longer than this clip. I watched it live raised my eyes when he kept calling Norman Smith Martin. I wondered if Smith would say anything… Watch and see.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Ruth Bright 23rd Jan '14 - 2:13pm

    Poor Paddy – I muddled up QVC and CQC recently – if you work in social care you’ll know just how bad that is!

  • Hey it could have been worse! At least Paddy didn’t call him “Nick”.

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