Paul Keetch obituary in the Telegraph

The Telegraph has published an obituary of former Liberal Democrat MP Paul Keetch who died last week at the age of 56.

Locally-born and a former city councillor, Keetch built on the efforts of previous Liberal candidates – among them Sir Robin Day. He ousted the long-serving and highly regarded Sir Colin Shepherd by 6,648 votes when the national anti-Conservative swing became irresistible, then fought hard to hold the seat, his majorities in 2001 and 2005 being 968 and 962 respectively.

Keetch was an assiduous party defence spokesman from 1999 to 2005, when Charles Kennedy dropped him. His main concern was the SAS, based in his constituency, but he became a tenacious campaigner on service welfare issues, with the interests of other ranks particularly at heart. It was Keetch who ascertained prior to the Iraq War that half the troops heading for the Gulf had refused a voluntary anthrax jab. He probed, uncomfortably for the MoD, why only three officers had been caught by drug tests, compared with 3,400 junior ranks. Keetch suspected the military had done its best not to test officers.

He also championed the cider industry, which was in the doldrums when he founded the All-Party Cider Group in 1997. Bulmer’s of Hereford recovered soon after on the back of a marketing campaign for Magner’s Irish cider, halting a situation in which many Herefordshire growers were grubbing up their orchards. In 2007 cider overtook beer in off-licence sales.

Keetch campaigned against large-scale house building in Herefordshire villages, and was one of the few Lib Dems to vote against a ban on foxhunting.

You can read the whole thing here.

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