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The Unsolved Mystery of the Money Tree

Anthony Howard: Jeremy Thorpe, 19 August 1999

In My Own Time: Reminiscences of a Liberal Leader 
by Jeremy Thorpe.
Politico’s, 234 pp., £18, April 1999, 1 902301 21 8
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... 25 years ago he attained for the then stand-alone Liberal Party more votes (over six million) than Paddy Ashdown achieved for the by now merged Liberal Democrats (five and a quarter million) at the last general election. Discretion, if not sheer political cowardice, decreed that his faintly saturnine presence should be air-brushed out of any contemporary ...

Crisis at Ettrick Bridge

William Rodgers, 12 October 1989

A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900-88 
by Chris Cook.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £9.95, August 1989, 0 333 44884 7
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Against Goliath 
by David Steel.
Weidenfeld, 318 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 9780297796787
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Labour’s Decline and the Social Democrats’ Fall 
by Geoffrey Lee Williams and Alan Lee Williams.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, July 1989, 0 333 46541 5
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by Annette Penhaligon.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0501 2
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Citizens’ Britain: A Radical Agenda for the 1990s 
by Paddy Ashdown.
Fourth Estate, 159 pp., £5.95, September 1989, 1 872180 45 0
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... time of merger and a serious candidate for the leadership of the new party. In the event, it was Paddy Ashdown who became the first leader of the Social and Liberal Democrats when David Steel decided that it was not for him. His ‘radical agenda for the 1990s’ is intelligent, civilised and left of centre. His vision of a citizens’ Britain is not ...


Ian Aitken: Closing Time at the Last Chance Saloon, 6 August 1992

... befall any editor who went in for more dirty tricks like the one that had been perpetrated on Paddy Ashdown. There was a collective sigh of relief among the politicians when the election came and went and nothing had happened. It was assumed that no editor was likely to launch such a story after the election if they hadn’t done the deed during the ...

Shining Pink

Tam Dalyell, 23 May 1985

Death of a Rose-Grower: Who killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Graham Smith.
Cecil Woolf, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1985, 0 900821 76 0
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... the politician was neither myself nor one of my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party, but Paddy Ashdown, Liberal MP for Yeovil. Mr Ashdown can claim the benefit of a rich experience both in the Royal Marines and as an Intelligence Officer. Like Clive Soley, Labour Spokesman on Home Affairs, who took part in the ...

Just what are those teeth for?

Ian Hamilton, 24 April 1997

... more than usually evasive. They are also more than usually absurd. Look at those silly clips of Paddy Ashdown playing hopscotch or John Major on his knees in a day-nursery or Tony Blair in his Newcastle soccer-strip. Who do these people think they’re fooling? Why don’t they treat us as grown-ups? What’s happened to the issues? To this, the ...


William Rodgers: Party Conference Jamboree, 25 October 1990

... Democrats than current polls foretell. Who knows, Neil Kinnock may still extend a friendly hand to Paddy Ashdown and, swallowing hard, ask him to name his ...


Kathleen Burk: Election Diary, 23 April 1992

... man as the one on Today in Parliament: he was in control both of himself and of the interview. Paddy Ashdown likewise was very impressive, and Major handled Dimbleby’s probing questions with very little difficulty. Either the wine had eroded my critical powers, or lack of exposure to television makes me too susceptible to the visual image: I thought ...
... Party in the Sixties and Seventies was generally treated with tolerant ridicule, the party led by Paddy Ashdown is taken seriously. It is possible that the next general election will produce a result for the Liberal Democrats much like that for the Alliance in 1987. They may do rather better in the seats where they were second last time and rather worse ...


David Marquand, 20 December 1990

Citizenship and Community: Civic Republicanism and the Modern World 
by Adrian Oldfield.
Routledge, 196 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 415 04875 3
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Community and the Economy: The Theory of Public Co-operation 
by Jonathan Boswell.
Routledge, 226 pp., £30, October 1990, 0 415 05556 3
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Encouraging citizenship: Report of the Commission on Citizenship 
HMSO, 129 pp., £8, September 1990, 0 11 701464 8Show More
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... by his or her own public spirit. At the centre and on the centre-left, a disparate band including Paddy Ashdown, Ralf Dahrendorf, Raymond Plant and Julian le Grand have suggested that the state should be the guarantor of social-citizenship rights rather than the provider of services, in the old Beveridgean way. Charter 88 sees the root of our political ...

Pretty Much like Ourselves

Terry Eagleton, 4 September 1997

Modern British Utopias 1700-1850 
by Gregory Claeys.
Pickering & Chatto, 4128 pp., £550, March 1997, 1 85196 319 7
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... Beings who must have set out for Earth millions of years ago turn out to look pretty much like Paddy Ashdown apart from their dwarfish stature and sinisterly monotone voices. Spacecraft capable of negotiating black holes crash in the Nevada desert, while their occupants display an excited interest in human dentures and genitals. Their speech and ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... policy prescriptions were formulated in large part by Keynes. Still, the party’s recent leaders, Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy – significantly, a former SDP MP – and Menzies Campbell, had all identified clearly with the left of British politics. Yet post-1945 Liberalism turns out on closer inspection to be deeply implicated in free-market ...


Ben Pimlott: Anthony Crosland, 3 September 1998

Crosland’s Future: Opportunity and Outcome 
by David Reisman.
Macmillan, 237 pp., £47.50, October 1997, 0 333 65963 5
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... would Crosland now be a supporter of Tony Blair? Or of his own disciple, Lord Hattersley? Or even Paddy Ashdown? Would he have supported the Third Way? He believed in Labour as an ordinary people’s party – like other middle-class socialists of his generation, he was sentimental about the working class – and would not easily have joined a party that ...

Why the Tories Lost

Ross McKibbin, 3 July 1997

... they were inevitably unable to exploit them. The unintended beneficiaries were Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown. Yet again the Conservatives had the worst of both worlds. What Thatcher and (especially) Major wanted to establish was a modernising democracy based on a mobile and meritocratic middle class who would provide the Conservative Party with an ...

The Tax-and-Spend Vote

Ross McKibbin: Will the election improve New Labour’s grasp on reality?, 5 July 2001

... are probably still over-dependent on well-entrenched individuals. In Yeovil, for example, where Paddy Ashdown was no longer standing, there was a strong swing to the Conservatives. The Lib Dems now have an odd profile. They are the main challengers to Labour in Liverpool, but also the main challengers to the Conservatives in Surrey. The difference is ...

Old Europe

Jeremy Harding: Britain in Bosnia, 20 February 2003

Indictment at The Hague: The Milosevic Regime and the Crimes of the Balkan Wars 
by Norman Cigar and Paul Williams.
New York, 339 pp., $24.95, July 2002, 0 8147 1626 1
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Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia 
by Brendan Simms.
Penguin, 464 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 14 028983 6
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Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo 
by Fred Abrahams.
Human Rights Watch, 593 pp., £18, October 2001, 1 56432 264 5
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Milosevic: A Biography 
by Adam LeBor.
Bloomsbury, 386 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 7475 6090 0
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... as realpolitiker descendants of the consummate Disraeli faced by a posse of minor Gladstones – Paddy Ashdown leading the LibDem charge, for instance, or Martin Bell of the BBC – whining about the agony of the Balkans. Hurd and Rifkind, and minor figures such as Douglas Hogg, all fancied themselves as men of steel, cool under fire, especially if it ...

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