Rt Hon Lord (Paddy) Ashdown GCMG CH KBE PC

Rt Hon Lord (Paddy) Ashdown GCMG CH KBE PC

First Liberal Democrat Leader

Synopsis

Paddy learned to speak Mandarin and served in the SBS and Intelligence before entering Parliament and leading the Lib Dems for 11 years. He then served as the UN High Representative for Bosnia Herzegovina. In speeches he discusses the implications of a new multi-polar global power structure. As the first MP to have a computer in Westminster, he calls for faster, more responsive politics and the need to rebuild after May 7th.

Biography

Paddy Ashdown is one of Britain’s most respected politicians and elder statesmen. From his seat in the Lords he acts as mentor to Nick Clegg and a powerful supporter of the Coalition.

Born in New Delhi, Paddy saw active service as a Royal Marine in Borneo and the Persian Gulf. After transfering to the elite Special Boat Service he was posted in the Far East and Hong Kong, during which time he became fluent in Mandarin. He ended his military career in Belfast in the early years of the Troubles.

Back in civvy street, Paddy stood as Liberal candidate for Yeovil - raising the vote to its highest ever level. After only six years in the Commons, he was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats. He held the post for eleven years, and at one stage entered into a Joint Cabinet Committee with Tony Blair’s Labour Party to pursue apparently shared visions of constitutional reform.

During the conflict in the Balkans, Paddy was one of the leading advocates for decisive action by the international community. After stepping down as an MP, his detailed understanding of the region led to his appointment as High Representative of the International Community and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina - a role for which he remains widely praised. Paddy is also the UK President of Unicef.

Amongst many speech themes Paddy talks about conflict resolution and the new multi-polar global power structure. Closer to home he explains the chemistry between Clegg and Cameron: “What we have is two guys who get on very well together. You make coalitions because you agree about things, but their relationship is the lubricant that makes the system work.”

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Video

Conference Speaker Paddy Ashdown JLA Speakers Breakfast on 2010 election