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Paddy Ashdown will be hugely missed

December 22, 2018 9:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Earlier this evening, Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats passed away following a short illness.

Our thoughts are with Jane and Paddy's family this evening.

This is a hugely sad day for the Liberal Democrats and for the very many people across political and public life who had immense affection and respect for Paddy.

He took up unpopular causes where he was respected for his convictions, in particular promoting the rights of the citizens of Hong Kong, and - later - military intervention in Kosovo. He was famous for his politics, but his talents extended well beyond that arena. He was an accomplished author, and had spent many years serving the country before he got near the House of Commons.

Few people know how hard he fought to get into politics following his service in the marines and diplomatic service. He exercised every ounce of his considerable personal stamina to win the Yeovil seat.

Paddy was a personal example to me and to many other candidates.

Paddy was a personal example to me and to many other candidates. The time he made for his indefatigable campaigning involved considerable personal sacrifice, building the constituency result up from a low base to famous victory in 1983.

Once in Parliament, he made a real mark. He was always listened to, in particular, on international issues and defence.

He took up unpopular causes where he was respected for his convictions, in particular promoting the rights of the citizens of Hong Kong, and - later - military intervention in Kosovo.

As Party Leader, he took time to tour the country staying with families all around Britain, as part of his 'Beyond Westminster' tour, properly understanding people in the recessions of the 1990s.

He took up unpopular causes where he was respected for his convictions, in particular promoting the rights of the citizens of Hong Kong, and - later - military intervention in Kosovo.

He inspired the Liberal Democrats from a polling position he famously described as 'represented by an asterisk', to become a formidable campaigning force, doubling the party's representation to 46 MPs and laying the ground for the strength which later took the party into government.

It was an immense pity that he himself didn't see office in government.

Though the Liberal Democrats had enjoyed incredible success in 1997, in large part due to his leadership, the Labour landslide meant that New Labour did not need Liberal Democrat support. It was a mark of his strength that he nonetheless successfully pushed the Blair government towards constitutional reform.

Sent by Tony Blair as High Representative to Bosnia, he brought that country back to stability, showing the qualities he could have offered to the Cabinet here.

Paddy was aghast at the direction our country has been taking, and as ever did all he could to campaign for a change of course.

Finally, he has been a powerful voice was of real significance for the pro-European cause in recent years. He was aghast at the direction our country has been taking, and as ever did all he could to campaign for a change of course.

He will be sadly missed in all parts of politics and Parliament.

We have set up an online book of condolence should you wish to share a message or simply leave your name. All messages will be sent to Paddy's family.

You can add your name and comments here: www.libdems.org.uk/book-of-condolence-paddy-ashdown