Paddy Ashdown, ex-Liberal Democrat leader dies aged 77

Paddy Ashdown, Liberal Democrat leader between 1988 and 1999 has died aged 77, the party has confirmed.

Lord Ashdown revealed last month that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. At the time he spoke about the help of his local hospital and his family and friends.

“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.”

On Saturday evening, a Lib Dem spokesperson confirmed the news of his passing.

“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.”

Prior to entering politics, Lord Ashdown served with the Royal Marines, the Special Boat Service and as a UK diplomat. He was the founding leader of the Lib Dems following the merger of the old Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Current leader of the Lib Dems Vince Cable spoke of his and others respect for the former leader.

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

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

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

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