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As long as Paddy Ashdown’s on side then Nick Clegg’s position is secure

May 26th, 2014

The former leader has the power to stop regicide

Back in September 2012 at the Lib Dem Brighton conference Clegg announced the appointment of ex-leader, Paddy Ashdown as head of the party’s 2015 general election campaign.

This has been discussed in terms of his ability to reach Labour tactical voters who are central to the party holding onto those seats where the Tories are in second place. He’s also good at motivating activists.

    But what’s really significant about having Ashdown on side is the way it buttresses Clegg’s own position as leader.

    Grandees have always been hugely influential within the party and it’s hard to envisage a successful attempt to oust Clegg or persuade him to step down without Ashdown being on board.

The former leader and ex-SBS officer has been totally wedded to the leader and I detect no change there. As long as that remains my reading is that Clegg is untouchable.

If, however, Ashdown starts to have doubts then things could move and he would be the one to handle the negotiation.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble