Paddy Ashdown’s voice

PAddy Ashdown by Liberal DemocratsLiberal Democrats have always treasured the charismatic Paddy Ashdown. He has an engaging style in public and comes over as warm, realistic and credible; he is also very good at rallying the troops.

It seems that others beside the Liberal Democrats have noticed the pulling power of his voice, including an agency for voice-over artists which has now recruited him.

The Guardian reports the story  and refers to his ‘authoritative, reassuring tones’, but also highlights concerns by some party members. It quotes a ‘senior Liberal Democrat’ who said…

… he was ‘astonished’ that Ashdown was offering his services in such a way at a time when the party faced huge potential losses at the election, and said he hoped that any money he made would be dropped into the party’s none too healthy election war chest.

This concern is echoed by Naomi Smith, chair of the Social Liberal Forum who said:

It is concerning that, 100 days before the election, the chair of our general election campaign may not be giving 100% to the campaign but pursuing a voiceover career instead. His priority should be on helping our MPs facing very tough battles to hold their seats.

Paddy himself is quoted in the Guardian article:

“My agents [for his latest audio book] said, ‘Oh, you have got a good voice’,” so he agreed to do some tests with Soho Voice, for which he was not paid. He described the company as a “tiny little organisation tucked up a back street in Soho” and doubted whether many offers would come his way.

Just a thought – does he actually get paid for leading the General Election campaign?

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

Read more by .
This entry was posted in News.


  • “His priority should be on helping our MPs facing very tough battles to hold their seats.”

    I’m sure it is – I am also sure that in the vast amounts of time Paddy spends working for the party he is more than welcome to do something else every now and then…

  • Kav Kaushik 26th Jan '15 - 1:00pm

    Pretty sure Paddy isn’t paid to lead the GE campaign. Particularly as the post requires travelling to constituencies I don’t think we should cause drama if he’s getting some income for a side job which requires minimal hours. It is easy to raise similar concerns over members of federal committees and the Campaigns & Candidate’s Committee for balancing their professional lives with voluntary jobs for the party. It could be seen as the criticism against Paddy working part time is more to do with his relationship to Clegg. In constrast, there have been 0 concerns raised about the chair of the Campaigns & Candidate’s Committee having a full time job.

    Had Paddy been paid for the GE election post it would divert much needed money going to the constituencies to fund our election campaign. Surely having seen the bank accounts of the Tories and the fact that Lord Oakeshott is now funding the Labour party, we as Lib Dem members would really appreciate easing some financial strain off of this campaign…

  • I say good luck to the old boy.

    If Paddy Ashdown can earn a few quid by doing the voice over for the TV Advert extolling the benefits of ‘Tena for men’ or something equally suitable, then why not?

    He is not getting a brass farthing for the thankless task of trying to make our general election result look anything other than a complete humiliation. Give him a break.

    If I was him I would do a few quick voice overs and nip off to his vineyard in France.
    He would not then need to turn up to the dreadful HofL for £300 a day.
    His old age pension will go further now that the Euro has slipped in value against the Pound.
    Or perhaps there could be a whip round for a leaving present by those of his richer colleagues in the HofL who have, in David Steel’s words, “contributed their way” into Parliament.

  • That’s as big a bunch of BS as I’ve seen in some while!

    Questioning Paddy’s commitment to the party’s cause may well be the craziest thing I’ve seen all year. The only thing to say about Naomi Smiths comment is at least she put her name to it.

  • Alex Sabine 26th Jan '15 - 7:25pm

    @ JohnTilley
    “Or perhaps there could be a whip round for a leaving present by those of his richer colleagues in the HofL who have, in David Steel’s words, ‘contributed their way’ into Parliament.”

    Like Lord Oakeshott, you mean? Assuming he still regards Paddy Ashdown as a progressive kindred spirit.

    I agree with you regarding Paddy. Sounds harmless enough to me.

  • Voiceover work is a very over-crowded market. He is very unlikely to be called except once in a blue moon and then the work is unlikely to take more than a couple of hours.

    I very much doubt he will get much work in the voiceover world. He is not a trained actor and his voice is a very particular type. Indeed, his voice is very recognisable as Paddy, and therefore many companies would not want to be associated with a known political brand. Why hire Paddy when you can hire a trained actor who can do a Paddy voice and can vary their voice and its speed, modulation etc expertly, and understands timing and microphone technique etc?

    And does he have studios at his homes with ISDN lines? Most voiceover artists do these days, allowing them to knock off voiceovers at the drop of the hat, unconstrained by travel times.

    He has other interests, grand-children, various boards he is on, that take up far more time than this is likely to.

  • Chris Rennard 26th Jan '15 - 8:19pm

    The criticism of Paddy is just ridiculous. Perhaps the role was not really explained to those phoned up by the Observer?

  • @Paul Walter

    As someone with some experience of this kind of thing… he wouldn’t need a studio at home for a start. One microphone, a stand, a lead, and a cheap interface and he could record straight into a laptop – less than £200s worth of kit – but he wouldn’t need it anyway for the jobs he’d be likely to get. The sort of work he might be employed for would precisely use the fact that his voice was recognisable. He would be hired instead of an actor precisely for 3 or 4 line jobs (adverts say, rather than audio books) where there would be little opportunity for fluffs and any he did make could be easily edited.

  • Alex Sabine 26th Jan '15 - 8:42pm

    @ Paul Walter
    “…His voice is a very particlar type. Indeed, his voice is very recognisable as Paddy… Why hire Paddy when you can hire a trained actor who can do a Paddy voice and can vary their voice and its speed, modulation etc expertly…”

    Quite. Has anyone done a better Paddy Ashdown impression than Rory Bremner? Not just the voice but the narrowed eyes and furrowed brow…

    Courtesy of YouTube…
    (from about 3:30 to 4:00)

  • My guess is that Rory Bremner’s fee would be considerably larger than anything Paddy could command.

    It does occur to me that Paddy could make much more money by following Lemsip Opik and Lord Paddick into the fake jungle of ‘I’m a Celebrity Let’s provide a vehicle for Ant and Dec’.

    But I am assuming that Paddy has some Red Lines that he will not cross.

  • peter tyzack 27th Jan '15 - 10:41am

    the very suggestion that this would be impinging on the time Paddy has available between now and May is laughable, and it is roguish to suggest otherwise. Any campaigner, who has any worth, will not embark on anything during the coming months, other than the day job and family essentials.. even my plans for a spring holiday are postponed til late May.

  • The Daily Politics are running a fun segment on this right now with Paddy and Alan Dedicoat…

  • Olly Grender 27th Jan '15 - 2:21pm

    Thanks for all the supportive comments here re Paddy. Like most candidates and activists he is not paid by the Party. (though travel for campaigning visits are usually covered). This audio stuff was something he agreed last November having done his own audio book – he will never do commercial advertising but will do audio books and the like. He made that clear to the Observer. Surprise surprise the paper made it sound like he was going to do this during the election campaign. Of course he isn’t. If you’ve ever worked with Paddy you will already know that he works at an amazing pace and is totally dedicated to our Party. But he isn’t alone. He works hard because he knows that we are nothing without the volunteer time people in our party spend out there campaigning, giving up holidays, time with the kids (or in Paddy’s case grandchildren) etc. Let’s assume the best of everyone and that we are ALL giving it our all and get on with it!

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Jeff
    It is one of the many contradictions of Boris Johnson, that despite his role in the UK leaving the EU, he was happy for Crossrail and other transport project...
  • George Thomas
    "I would like to see the funding mechanism that has funded Crossrail (which saw London businesses contributing significantly) around the country used as a model...
  • James Moore
    £20 billion to connect places that are already well connected by one of the most comprehensive underground and rail systems anywhere in the world. What could ...
  • David Goble
    @ Andy Daer: "If MPs can't trust the Prime Minister, Parliament can't function". And is the Prime Minister worried? No! I get the feeling, particularly in th...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Caroline, It makes sense for euro using countries, and perhaps local councils in the UK, to make use of the European Investment Bank if the terms on offer ...