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After being selected in 1976 as Liberal candidate for Yeovil, he gushed about the Lib-Lab pact that saw David Steel’s tiny group of Liberal MPs keeping the useless Labour government of James Callaghan in power. The pact did little to solve the political instability.The Liberals were tarnished for many years for that ill-judged alliance.
This earned him the nickname ‘Paddy Climbdown’ from young Liberals.That was at least better than ‘Paddy Pantsdown’, the sobriquet bestowed on him a few years later after he was caught having an affair with his secretary.In 1979, he proposed that UN soldiers should patrol the streets of Ulster.Next, with the Left in full CND mode in the early Eighties, Ashdown came over all peacenik and demanded the removal of all Cruise missiles from British soil, even as it was obvious the West’s long-standing nuclear deterrence was bringing Soviet totalitarianism to its knees.He is often invited on to BBC night-time political programmes — especially for election specials, whose producers ask him on, I think, just to be mischievous — and is on first-name terms with archbishops, Tony Blair and the Dimbleby brothers.
Leaping on suggestions that Theresa May was not going to introduce an Australian-style points system for immigration controls, he took to Twitter, that milieu of instant opinions blurted without intellectual elaboration.