LibLink: Ming Campbell Tribute to Paddy Ashdown

As Paddy’s funeral took place in his home village of Somerset, Politics Home published a fantastic tribute to our former leader by another former leader of the party, Ming Campbell. He described him as “unwaveringly loyal and generous” and said that they never feel out even when they disagreed:

The first serious political test of his leadership was the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein in August 1990. Given his military experience, this was the perfect opportunity for him to display his leadership. There were party members in the Commons and Lords and in the country who were nervous about him giving support to the United Nations’ authorised effort to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait. But he brought together a small group of senior military figures and diplomats to advise himself and others speaking for the party. At the next Liberal Democrat conference, he got almost total support from his party

Paddy Ashdown’s close relationship with Tony Blair in the run-up to the 1997 General Election has been well documented and had Blair not won that election so comprehensively it might have produced the realignment of the left in British politics longed for by Jo Grimond, David Steel and the Gang of Four. He pursued the possibility of realignment with the same determination as in all things. When it did not come to pass, Paddy, who had by then been leader of the Liberal Democrats for 11 years, began to think of other things to do. When he stepped down he left a Parliamentary party of more than 40 MPs with a well-established and effective third-party role in parliament.

Following the breakup of Yugoslavia he had taken a keen interest in the Balkans and at some considerable risk had made several visits to the region. There was, therefore, no surprise about his appointment as the UN’s High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina where his characteristic decisiveness and determination were fully displayed. His authority was absolute and his impact immediate and immense. It is arguable that when he was working in that capacity he was happiest and at his most effective.

For my own part, Paddy was both a colleague and a close friend. He had more energy than anyone else I have ever known. His sense of responsibility and duty was unparalleled.

We worked closely together and while we did not always agree with each other we never once fell out. He was unwaveringly loyal and generous. Courageous, committed and charismatic. What more could you hope for from a friend and party leader?”

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

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2 Comments

  • John Marriott 11th Jan '19 - 4:22pm

    I thought the wicker coffin was an appropriate touch. I gather that Sir John Major attended the funeral. The more I see of him the more I reckon what a thoroughly decent chap he is. I’m sure that not everyone will agree.

    In conclusion I seem to recall the story that Paddy each day carried three cigarettes with him as his daily ration. Given the current febrile atmosphere I wonder, had he still been with us, whether three would have been enough!

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