Official portrait of Lord Ashdown
Official portrait of Lord Ashdown of
Norton-sub-Hamdon, by Chris McAndrew

I was saddened this holiday season to hear of the death of Paddy Ashdown. Although we could not have been less politically aligned, I always respected Lord Ashdown (Jeremy John Durham Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon) for his service to his country. He was a true patriot, having served as a Royal Marine, Special Boat Service officer and an intelligence officer in the UK security services.

He was elected Member of Parliament for Yeovil in 1983, where he served for 18 years. During that time, he was the driving force behind the creation of the Liberal Democrat party and was very involved with Tony Blair and “New Labour”. We were working in Windsor at that time, and I remember watching his brief morning TV shots as we readied ourselves for work during the run-up to the general election. I am certainly no expert on British politics, but I always felt Paddy was a reasonable man who seemed to be seeking ways to find common ground with his political opponents.

Later in life, he received international recognition for his role in Bosnia–Herzegovina as its High Representative from 2002 to 2006, following his vigorous lobbying for military action against Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In recognition of his service, he was appointed as Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 2006 New Year Honours and Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2015 New Year Honours.

His passing comes at a time when the world needs more reason and compromise. He will be missed.