With a post-war record number of MPs, the Liberal Democrat party
might have been expected to have smothered Paddy Ashdown in affection at
Eastbourne last week. Even though parts of his main speech were received
with the usual rapture, there were clear indications that there is some
distance between ’where Ashdown wants to take the party and where they
want to be’ (Donald MacIntyre, the Independent, 25 Sept).
When he produced his usual ration of fighting talk in public, there were
signs that the real business of getting on with Labour is being done in
covert operations, despite the helpful Mr Mandelson giving Ashdown the
opportunity to do a bit of tub-thumping.
Yet again the week ended with a vote with which the leader had to
distance himself from the rest of the party. Three years ago they passed
a motion to support the legalisation of cannabis. This year the topic
was voluntary euthanasia. It left some pundits questioning whether Paddy
would be there to lead the party at the next election.
Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Cuttings supplied by The
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