Thursday, March 10, 2011
A politician's destiny
These thoughts came to mind on meeting Paddy Ashdown this week and how ministerial office passed him by. As a leader of the Liberal Democrats he did OK. But his military and diplomatic experience caused him to be called to sort out Bosnia and for Gordon Brown to offer him the job of Northern Ireland secretary. He would have done a terrific job. He would have made a first rate Foreign Secretary, of that there is no doubt. He always cuts an impressive and statesmanlike figure. He has a tremendous grasp of world affairs, of history and of knowing the right thing to do. His talk at the Bridgewater Hall on Tuesday this week - organised by lawyers DLA Piper - was wide ranging, serious and, at times, scary. His remarks were off the record, so I won't repeat directly what he said - but the importance of legitimate structures that provide a framework to an interconnected world are vital.
But there's one more thing about him that will forever haunt him. That nickname. It doesn't seem to have done him that much harm, but everyone I told I was seeing him offered it as an aside. William Hague has to be careful how he rides out this current difficulty. A joke won't do it. A quip won't work. A bit of pumped up muscular liberalism might though. Just ask Pantsdown.