Remembering Paddy

I still can’t get my head round Paddy being gone, even nine months on.

I am so glad I was in the room at Glee Club to see him tell the Joke in Brighton last September.

Paddy influenced a huge part of my development as a Liberal Democrat. I’ve been inspired by him, I’ve fought with him (yes, I dared answer back), I’ve admired the way he dragged us from an asterisk to a sizeable political force and then tried to do it all again. While I may have disagreed with him on a fair few occasions, I sought his counsel on many more.

I will never forget how, within seconds of me doing the Today programme at the nadir of our time in coalition, the aftermath of the 2014 Euro elections, I had an email from him praising me on my performance.

Every so often, he’d ring me up and tell me off or offer me some useful ideas. He was always worth listening to. I mean, he’d built a party from nothing and he’d put together a country in the aftermath of war. How could you not?

I was gutted that I couldn’t be at his memorial service at Westminster Abbey today. An impressive location for a giant.

As a party we fought the Major Government with a passion, but we knew that there was a respect between Major and Ashdown. It made me howl when I heard John Major’s tribute to Paddy today. While I opposed the Tories with my heart, Major reminds me too much of my Dad to ever dislike him. They both look alike and are incredibly kind and decent human beings. And the generosity and eloquence of his tribute to Paddy today cemented his place as one of my favourite people in politics.

Here are just some of the tweets from the service:

From our leader to one of our newest MPs

When he was leader, Olly was right there in his office, alongside Ed Davey, working for him. That work partnership endured for the best part of 30 years.

Westminster Abbey was full of the great and good – but they were only the tip of the iceberg.

Many, many more people were inspired by Paddy. His spirit lives  on in many of those who are or will be MPs, councillors, office bearers and foot soldiers in this party. We will never forget him.

And let’s give the last word to the Lib Dem Lords Twitter account.

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

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  • Yes. Beautiful speech by Major. It is really sad that Paddy didn’t get to see our recovery and the current buzz of excitement about our party. I think he would have loved ‘Bollocks to Brexit.’

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Sep '19 - 12:44am

    What a really special homage from Sir John for Paddy.

    A lovely account from Caron.

    We remember a great leader and more importantly, a good man.

  • He is greatly missed. I am sure he would express trenchant views on the on going situation in Hong Kong.

  • John Marriott 11th Sep '19 - 7:08am

    I met Paddy Ashdown on several occasions and still treasure the comments he wrote in his autobiography when he came to Lincoln to give a talk a few years ago. I think that the words of Sir John Major sum him up so well. It was said that he used to confine himself to three cigarettes per day. I wonder whether, now he doesn’t have to worry about such things now, wherever he now is, he might have upped that to…..five?

  • I was delighted to attend Paddy‘s memorial service. It was a great occasion. It was like a mixture of a state funeral with the four former prime ministers and the homily from John Major with touches of military formalities, poetry and laughter of which Paddy would have approved. Paddy’s Jane, Kate and Simon handle the occasion in their normal excellent manner.
    Can I add to the tribute to Paddy. His inspiration, energy and boundless ideas have shaped many of us. I am honoured to call him my friend.

  • What a wonderful tribute from John Major…. and how moving there can be such respect and affection across the parties – something sadly that we miss so much these days.

    On a personal note, Paddy’s great gift was to remember names and faces….. something I remember with some embarrassment. He once let me ‘borrow’ a razor when I had forgotten mine when we shared a room at a candidates’ training session in Oxford before he was elected……. and ten years later asked me when I was going to return it.

    Miss you, Paddy. One of the very best.

  • Laurence Cox 11th Sep '19 - 10:21am

    Paddy always valued our base in Local Government; I remember getting a congratulatory letter from him on House of Commons notepaper when I was elected in a Council by-election in 1991. He, more than any leader since, also took note of the opinions of ordinary members holding no elected position; he used to lurk (and occasionally post as jjd) in the Lib Dem conferences on Cix.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Sep '19 - 11:29am

    He may have been unhappy to see the results of the 2015 general election in the south-west of England, which need to be changed.
    The 4 former PMs, and many soldiers, would know about his service in Northern Ireland.
    Important to him were the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, electorally federal but undemocratic. In reality a communist dictatorship. The FCO put him next to the Croatian dictator Tudjman (đman) at a dinner in London and learned of his geographical and military ambitions.
    Paddy stood down as an MP to serve as an EU representative in the former SFRY and spoke to a meeting at the National Liberal Club on his return. He admitted limitations, difficulties and failures in that job. Hopefully historians will include with suitable prominence the job that he considered as most important in his life.

  • Denis Loretto 11th Sep '19 - 11:37am

    I was privileged to attend the great occasion in Westminster Abbey. It was deeply moving and uplifting in these troubled times.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Sep '19 - 5:45pm

    Imagine listening to the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra performing a free encore at the Royal Albert Hall Promenade concert, performing ‘Hey Jude’ to rapturous applause, albeit without a singer. That says something about China’s cultural freedoms nowadays. Paddy would have loved it. Hopefully they heard it in Hong Kong.

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