Former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Ashdown was the UN High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina during the conflict and is a former marine. With his extensive knowledge of international politics and strategic issues, Paddy sits in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat peer and is a best-selling author. He is a globally respected keynote and conference speaker.
Lord Paddy Ashdown is an internationally respected keynote and conference speaker whose vast knowledge of international politics and strategic issues make him a fascinating and erudite speaker.
Starting out his professional career as a Royal Marine, in 1972, Paddy left the force and joined the Foreign Office. He was posted to the British Mission to the United Nations in Geneva where he was responsible for Britain's relations with a number of UN organisations and took part in the negotiation of several international treaties and agreements between 1974 and 1976, including aspects of the European Security Conference (the Helsinki Conference). After leaving the Foreign Office Paddy worked in industry in South-West England between 1976 and 1981 and in 1981 went to work as a Youth Worker with the Dorset County Council Youth Service, with responsibility for initiatives to help the young unemployed.
He stood as the Liberal Parliamentary candidate for the Yeovil constituency in 1979, raising the Liberal vote there to its highest ever level. Shortly after entering the UK Parliament in the 1983 General Election, Paddy became the Liberal spokesman for Trade and Industry within the Liberal/SDP Alliance team in the House of Commons and went on to be Education spokesman four years later. He was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats in July 1988 and appointed as a Privy Councillor in January 1989. In the 1997 General Election he further increased his majority in his Yeovil constituency to over 11,000. Paddy stood down as the leader of the Liberal Democrats in 1999 and retired from the Commons in 2001. He was made a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2000 and a Life Peer in 2001. Lord Ashdown was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 2006 New Year Honours List for his work in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paddy was one of the leading and most vocal advocates for decisive action by the international community. He argued strongly that this would help bring the conflict to an early close, and that this was in the interests of all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina whatever their ethnic background. He visited the country many times during the conflict and subsequently. Lord Ashdown was the UN High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from May 2002 until January 2006. Paddy now sits in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat peer.
He has published books to critical acclaim on nation-building, political strategy, conflict and resolution. He lectures and speaks to audiences worldwide on a variety of international and strategic issues. As a leading international political strategist Lord Ashdown is well-placed to advise the corporate circuit on the future of the UK outside the European Union.
2016 saw Paddy set up More United, a tech start-up firm which supports modern democracy and market based economy.
Lord Ashdown, a former Special Forces Commando, and one the UK’s most influential politicians, is a charming and erudite after dinner speaker.