It was announced about an hour ago that Paddy Ashdown, the first leader of Lib Dems has died at the age of 77. Two months ago he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Normally we don’t run obits on PB but I’m making an exception with Paddy who is someone I knew and had great respect for. He was the leader of the LDs from its formation in 1987 and saw the parliamentary party move from 22 seats to 46 providing the foundation for its growth to 62 seat at GE2005
He actually led the party at the 1992 and 1997 general elections. In the former I was a candidate for Bedford which happened to be the place where he had gone to school. This connection meant that there were a number of times when we were in contact and I remember chauffeuring him around on more than one occasion.
He had courage and a charisma that enabled the third party to make a mark and be heard. I can remember dozens of occasions on the doorstep when reminding voters that our leader was Paddy was enough to shift the vote.
His background as an officer in the special services and later on as a diplomat gave him a breadth of experience that made him unique amongst party leaders.
He will be sadly missed.