Monday, March 16, 2009

Lord Paddy Ashdown: What'd He Really Think On Iraq and Saddam?

Tomorrow Iain Dale is to interview Lord Paddy Ashdown for his throbbing organ - Iain's throbbing organ Total Politics that is - and he's seeking inspiration on questions.

Here are mine:

The entire parliamentary Lib Dem party in the Commons, along with 139 Labour MPs and a few odds and sods such as Tories Hogg and Clarke voted against the invasion of Iraq in support of US Shock and Awe 2003.
Their noble Lib Dem lords being less unanimous and indeed broadly supportive of the creed of liberal intervention and Atlanticism. As I recall Lord Tim Garden thought it was wrong only because Syria should have been taken out first, and Lord Paddy Ashdown simply seemed to support the decision quite enthusiastically.
- What does LPA recall of his and other senior colleagues views at the time?
- How did these wise old heads advise Charles Kennedy, and was that advice relevant to his apparent shilly-shallying over whether to take part in the protests of 15.02.03 and how to whip the party?
- Did that advice contribute to the rather high level of abstention and absenteeism from Lib Dem MPs over the earlier relevant vote?
- With the benefit of hindsight how does he see all this and does he still think Blair was right to back the USA. "My special relationship right or wrong"?
March 16, 2009 8:45 AM

Of course the Lib Dem pretender in Manchester Withington, the then Mr John Leech, took the then Mr Bradley MP to task over a voting pattern of opposition to the war in the later pair of votes and less so in the earlier pair of votes, depending on the expected second UN resolution as I recall. Many of the Lib Dems - about half of them as I recall - did not even vote in both sets. Many of them tactically abstained on the first vote. Avoiding commitment I suppose. Hoping it would never happen.

In fact Leech pretended that Bradley voted for the war in the final analysis which, like so much else the fibbing-for-fun hoaxmeister Leech spouted at the time, was not quite true.

It is also worth noting that Leech's major wish in his 2008 interview with Total Politics was that he had been an MP in 2003 to vote against the war. Now, I've no doubt that John leech would have voted against the war along with his party colleagues, but I do continue to be disappointed that he gets away with these lines when he was AWOL from all the relevant protests and anti-war activity in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and before election in 2005.

That Total Politics interview also revealed that Paddy Pantsdown is Leech's political hero, and that Cllr Norman Pantsdown his local hero. All good. Though apparently John expected Tolkein's deliberately unpublished hobbity tosh The Silmarillion would be any good. Doh! And twice doh!

Seems to me that Leech did not walk the talk on the war when it mattered. As far as I know he never once showed his face at the persistent weekly demonstration in the ward he lived in, every Friday night for more than two years at the Whalley Hotel. And he didn't show his face at the regular at times but overall slightly more sporadic one on Friday nights also at Chorlton Cross.

I'm not aware of his being at any of the major London demonstrations, or even those in Manchester. He was not obviously present, never mind speaking or organising, at any of the protests in Manchester on the day the war started.

It only seems to have been on his leaflets - with their various other lies and distortions - that he opposed the war in Iraq in any way. Lip service. And that apparently remained the case until around 2006 when he started popping up accepting petitions and the like. Bah Humbug!

Like his class-of-2005 muppet-mate Paul Rowen - who has missed at least four relevant meetings and debates in the last couple of months including missing his party's Harrogate debate after apparently partying too hard night and early hours before - MP Leech is also Johnnie-cum-Lately to the cause of Gaza.

Looking rather uncomfortable in an obvious photo call, then making his excuses and leaving. Not quite standing-up-and-being-counted at the front of a recent demonstration. Standing up and being photographed is about the limit. Though Leech's picture did make the Manchester Evening News (not online afaik). Is that all that matters after all John?

Here's how it should look:

But let's see your War cuttings from 2001-2005 please John.

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