Paddy Ashdown carves out a new career as a literary reviewer

He’s been a marine. He’s been an MP and party leader. He’s an election campaign chief and a successful author. Paddy Ashdown has now shown that he can be an effective literary critic. As you would expect, his comments are direct, no-nonsense and pithy – and required journalists and bloggers to put content warnings on their missives from Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Aberdeen.

From the Scotsman:

The former SNP leader’s book The Dream Shall Never Die recounts his experiences in last year’s independence referendum campaign.

The book was published yesterday, with Lord Ashdown telling the press he had been reading it on his way to the conference.

During a media briefing, Lord Ashdown said: “I was reading Mr Salmond’s biography on the way up. It’s not very good, is it?

“In my view, I think it is an extraordinary exercise in self-congratulation.”

He then went on to describe the book as “the longest exercise in literary masturbation since politics began”.

That could get awkward at his publisher’s Christmas Party:

And here’s a photo of Paddy at the briefing:

Paddy’s bluntness seems to have eclipsed (see what I did there) everything else that has happened at the conference so far…

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15 Comments

  • Steve Comer 21st Mar '15 - 3:28pm

    Am old phrase about pots and kettles comes to mind here!
    Are not all political autobiographies “….an extraordinary exercise in self-congratulation” I expect Alec Salmond could describe the Ashdown diaries in the same way.
    I saw John Cleese on tour just before Xmas promoting his auto biography. A critic in the Daily Mail criticised it for being ‘self centred’……..Cleese made the remark that obvious point that it after all errr an AUTObiography.

    By the way can anyone explain to someone in the South West of England why the UK Lib Dem leadership is spending so much time in the UK media attacking the SNP which has never stood in England and never will? Surely we should be attacking Labour and the Tories who are the main competition in all but a handful of our held seats and potential gains?

    When I campaigned in elections in the 1980s I seem to remember it was to break the mould of politics. I hoped the Liberal/SDP Alliance would do that, but we just failed to do so in 1983, and our breakthrough in 1997 was partly on the coattails of a strong anti-Tory swing. If the SNP really can break through in those rock solid Labour seats in the central belt of Scotland that will be truly mould breaking. I really hope they can do it. Safe seats are the worst feature of First Past The Post (and of AV too of course). If the SNP do win these seats (and I’m not as confident as the polls are – the Old Labour voters can be surprisingly resilient as we saw in 2010) then it will almost certainly bring another Parliament with No Overall Control – and surely we want to ensure majority government at the Imperial Parliament is a thing of the past don’t we?.

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 3:57pm

    I agree the targeting of our guns on the SNP is a little bizarre. Maybe we’re trying to attract Soft Cons?
    I really hope there are going to be some big attacks on the Conservatives soon: maybe we’re waiting for the dissolution?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 21st Mar '15 - 4:12pm

    We have 11 MPs in Scotland out of 56. They are all facing challenges from the SNP. That’ll be why.

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 4:49pm

    Ok, 11 MPs facing SNP challenge, 15 (IIRC) facing labour challenge, that leaves 30 facing Conservative challenge, so at least twice as much airtime should go into attacking the Conservatives?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 21st Mar '15 - 5:37pm

    In Aberdeen?

  • Philip Thomas 21st Mar '15 - 5:41pm

    In Aberdeen fair enough, but I seem to recall some attacks on the SNP in Liverpool…

  • Philip Thomas 22nd Mar '15 - 8:46am

    I think the party is broadly in support of a second chamber- democratically elected would be our preference of course. Meanwhile, the Lords is what it is, and not having any Liberal Democrats in the second chamber because we don’t like its constitutional make-up would be cutting our nose off to spite our face. For one thing, reform of the second chamber has to be passed through Parliament- easier to do that with support inside the second chamber.

  • I was busy campaigning in Banff and Buchan but you have just provided the motivation to drive through to Gordon this week. ( for the SNP of course)

  • Philip Thomas 22nd Mar '15 - 10:49am

    @Colin. An analogy: I think people born in the United Kingdom should be British Citizens, and it is my job to help people with obtaining British Citizenship.
    But I don’t help people born in the United Kingdom who are (in current law) not British Citizens to obtain British passports straight away… I help them under the legal route established to Citizenship (where possible), which involves recording a non-British nationality on their application forms.

    Likewise, even though I agree the current House of Lords lacks democratic legitimacy, I still want to change it by the legal route- which involves obtaining the consent of the House of Lords…

  • Philip Thomas 22nd Mar '15 - 11:52am

    But that new law has to go through the House of Lords: you can use the Parliament Act to ram it through after a year but it would be quicker if the House of Lords voted for its own demise.

  • Malcolm Todd 22nd Mar '15 - 2:02pm

    ” you can use the Parliament Act to ram it through after a year but it would be quicker if the House of Lords voted for its own demise”

    Well, it hasn’t done yet, so I think a one-year wait would be quick enough for me… but it’s a bit of a red herring from Colin, because the real difficulty seems to be getting the House of Commons to agree on an abolition law, without which the Lords’ consent or its absence is pretty irrelevant.

  • Do we have to have an old man as our spokesman? He look tired and his age.. We need a more youthful image, preferably female.
    “Literary masturbation”, is that the level we have descended to? It is best not to comment in these situations and allow your opponents to dig their own holes, as Salmond may well have done, see the Scottish Daily Mail yesterday.

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