Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Review: Paddy Ashdown, Elmwood Hall, Belfast

A refreshing honesty from elder statesman Ashdown

Published 21/10/2010

There was no armchair punditry from one of the Coalition's key elder statesmen Paddy Ashdown at the Elmwood Hall last night. He sat on the table front of stage and showed himself a keen analyst of foreign and domestic affairs, and the perfect after-dinner speaker.

Although promoting his autobiography, A Fortunate Life, Ashdown started with a hilarious anecdote about George Brown, Labour foreign secretary in the 1960s. The punchline, when Brown asked a woman in a red dress to dance, was that she wouldn't because he was drunk. It was the National Anthem playing and her title was the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima.

Duly warmed up, we were treated to passages from his book that he felt revealed what his life was all about. With an honesty that is rare in his profession, Paddy Ashdown described his trip to Bosnia with journalists in the early '90s. After visiting a brutal Serbian prison, he later learned that one of the survivors had revealed that the casual killing of inmates had stopped after the British MP's visit. That was his “best day's work”.

There was a good Q & A in which Lord Ashdown refused to condemn the cuts on the day the Chancellor announced painful reductions in public funding, and discussed the use of mercenaries in Afghanistan.

This was a brilliant, one man Question Time.


Belfast Telegraph

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More


From Belfast Telegraph