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Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown dies aged 77



Former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown has died at the age of 77, the party has said.

Lord Ashdown, who led the party between 1988 and 1999, revealed last month that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Speaking to the Somerset Live website at the time, Lord Ashdown said: “We must see about the outcome, which as always with things like this, is unpredictable.

“I’ve fought a lot of battles in my life.

“This time I am lucky enough to have the magnificent help of our local hospital, and my friends and family, and that gives me great confidence.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Paddy Ashdown passed away earlier this evening following a short illness.

“He will be desperately missed by everyone at the Liberal Democrats as a dear friend and colleague, and remembered as someone who made an immeasurable contribution to furthering the cause of liberalism.

“Our thoughts are with his family and all of his friends at this difficult time, and we ask that their privacy is respected.”

Prior to entering politics, Lord Ashdown served with the Royal Marines, the secret services and as a UK diplomat.

He was the founding leader of the Lib Dems following the merger of the old Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable said that, while Lord Ashdown was famous for his politics, he was also an accomplished author and had spent many years serving his country before reaching the House of Commons.

“Few people know how hard he fought to get into politics following his service in the marines and diplomatic service,” he said.

“He exercised every ounce of his considerable personal stamina to win the Yeovil seat.

“He was a personal example to me and to many other candidates.

“Once in parliament, he made a real mark.

“He was always listened to, in particular, on international issues and defence.

“He took up unpopular causes where he was respected for his convictions.

“He inspired the Liberal Democrats from a polling position he famously described as ‘represented by an asterisk’, to become a formidable campaigning force laying the ground for the strength which later took the party into government.

“In recent years, he has been powerful voice of real significance to the pro-European cause.

“He will be sadly missed in all parts of politics and parliament.”

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