The Death of Former Party Leader, Paddy Ashdown



Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats were shocked to hear of the death from bladder cancer of former Party Leader, Paddy Ashdown, aged 77, on 22nd December.

Andrew Lye, Chair of Carmarthenshire & Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats, Andrew Lye said “Paddy’s death has come as a huge shock to us as were not expecting the sad news, especially so close to Christmas. Paddy was one of those rare politicians who commanded respect across the party divide and was seen as the patriarch of the Liberal Democrats. In a time where today we are in a divided nation, most would listen to his views and generally agree with his comments. I would describe him as a titan in today’s world of UK politics, where we are surrounded by mediocrity.” 

Andrew Lye continued “I met Paddy a couple of times in the 90’s when he was Party Leader and I was Group Leader and Council Leader of West Wiltshire District Council, but I don’t have any stories to tell other than I was in awe of him then and that has not diminished and I cannot think of any member who has a bad word to say of him as he played a vital role as Leader in the early years of the newly merged party in the 80’s and 90’s”.

I have read many tributes over the last 18 hours and have been given the OK to publish the words of local party member, John Innes.

John Innes writes. “It is very rare that I lament the death of a politician – yes for Charles Kennedy, yes for Nelson Mandela (yes for Jo Cox … but that was different), … and Paddy Ashdown!, … and when I was a little kid, Winston Churchill.

When we learnt (6 weeks or so ago??) that Paddy had bladder cancer, I am sad to say that I did not think much about it. Bladder cancer? That is not one we hear of very often! I did not even think to pray about it!

I truly loved Paddy Ashdown. He was forceful …. and thank God I agreed with him 85% of the time. When I did agree with him, it was 120%! He could be a formidable foe however.

But for me, he absolutely encapsulated a bold Liberal Democrat. He fully understood the challenges of China & Russia, the rank awfulness of Trump, above all, the desolate disaster of Brexit.

I am heart-broken about his death, particularly at this awful time in our history. As both John Major and Tony Blair have said, he was a patriot … that is putting the interest of the nation above party politics, not to be confused to a nationalist, that puts a narrow (often xenophobic & racist) interest above the nation. Will this current government (the worst in my lifetime) learn anything?

No, he was not a saint, I do not think that he ever espoused any Christian faith, but I admired him! One thing we know – there will be many surprises in heaven!

Given my strong interest in both foreign affairs and the military, I always sought to go to any fringe meeting at (Lib Dem) conference at which he was a speaker.”

Andrew Lye added, “On behalf of Carmarthenshire & Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats, our thoughts are with Paddy’s wife Jane and his family. Paddy was clear about his views on Brexit and that will spur us on to ensure that Brexit is either stopped by Parliament or following a People’s Vote. We now all know the calamity that will befall us if we leave the EU and Paddy said “We are now embarked on a course that will bewilder future historians as the most remarkable example in modern history of a country committing an act of monumental self-harm while still in full possession of its faculties”.

“We will fight on to honour’s Paddy’s memory to ensure the UK plays it’s part within the EU and not as an isolated island of 65 million people and the fact that the polls are showing clear support for a People’s vote with Remain on the ballot paper is a hopeful sign. We are in a bad place at the moment and we still don’t know what Parliament is going to do in January. Theresa May has had over 2 years and the clock is still ticking, ever closer to midnight. Paddy will want us to continue the fight to stop the madness and it’s unfortunate that Paddy won’t be hear to see what happens. He will be missed by everyone in the Liberal D

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