Saturday, 31 August 2013

Britain is no longer a country for an old soldier, politician and advocate of armed intervention in the war in Syria called Paddy Ashdown

Paddy Ashdown, the 72 year old former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and now a member of the House of Lords is a deeply unhappy man. After Members of Parliament voted this week to reject Britain's military response in Syria in reaction to the chemical weapon attack on civilians in Damascus he tweeted that :

'We are a hugely diminished country this am. MPs cheered last night. Assad, Putin this morning. Farage too as we plunge towards isolationism. In 50 years trying to serve my country I have never felt so depressed/ashamed. Britain's answer to the Syrian horrors? none of our business.'
Speaking to the BBC's Radio 5 Live, he also expressed his unhappiness by saying that the outcome of the vote played into the hands of those who wanted to see Britain break away from the international community and “withdraw from the world”. He began by saying : " Call me an old warhorse if you wish, but I think our country is greatly diminished this morning."
He went on to say :
“ This country, which famously became Great Britain because it got engaged in the outside world, understood that dangers abroad were dangers for us - go back to Churchill - has decided that in the face of the breach of a war crime and a breach of international law it will not join with an international coalition led by a democrat American president. In more than 50 years of seeking to serve my country at home and abroad I wake up this morning more depressed, and I have to say, probably more ashamed than I have ever felt.”

What you possibly didn't know about this old warhorse, that he :
* was born Jeremy Ashdowne, the eldest of seven children, in New Delhi, India, during the Second World War in 1941 into a family of soldiers and colonial administrators with his father serving as an officer in the Indian Army.

* moved to Northern Ireland when he was a boy, where his father bought a farm in 1945, was educated first at a local primary school, then as a boarder at Garth House Preparatory School in Wales and then from the age of 11, Bedford School in England, where his Irish accent  earned him the nickname, 'Paddy'.

* left school and joined the Royal Marines at the age of 18 in 1959, served in Borneo during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation before training as a swimmer canoeist in 1965 and joined the elite 'Special Boat Section' and commanded a Section in the Far East, then went to Hong Kong in 1967 and undertook an interpreters  course in Chinese.

* returned to Britain in 1970 and was given command of a Commando Company in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the time of 'The Troubles' and retired at the age of 32 with the rank of captain in 1972 and joined the Secret Intelligence Service and, as a cover, worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as First Secretary to the UK mission to the UN.

* decided to give up a comfortable life in Switzerland, with his wife and two children on the shores of Lake Geneva with plenty of time for sailing, skiing and climbing, to enter politics and eventually became a Liberal Member of Parliament in 1983.

* in the early 1980s, was a prominent campaigner against the deployment in Europe of American nuclear-armed cruise missiles describing them at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1983 as "the front end of the whole anti-nuclear struggle. It is the weapon we have to stop."

* when the Liberal Party merged in 1988 with the Social Democrats to form the Lib Dems, was elected as the new party's first leader (left) and resigned as leader in 1999 after 11 years, then  retired from the House of Commons in 2001 and then became a member of the House Lords.

* took up the post of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002, reflecting his long-time advocacy of international intervention in that region and testified as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Paddy, an old soldier out of tune with the majority of people in his country and members of its House of Commons.

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