The Ashdown Diaries Vol. II: 1997-1999

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9780713995114: The Ashdown Diaries Vol. II: 1997-1999
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On May 1st 1997, Paddy Ashdown knew that any hope of a formal alliance with the Labour Party had been buried in Tony Blair's landslide election victory. This second volume of his Diaries reveals in detail the edgy cooperation that Ashdown and Blair maintained in the first two year of Labour's administration, Ashdown's continued involvement in the Balkan wars and the last days of his leadership.

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Synopsis:

The first volume of Paddy Ashdown's acclaimed diaries ended on 2 May 1997, the day after Labour gained its landslide victory and the Lib Dems won more seats than at any time since 1929, with the fateful words: "Tony starts his Prime Ministership with a tidal wave of hope and good will behind him. A new age". But was it? This second volume takes us from that post-electoral euphoria to the moment when Paddy Ashdown, believing he had taken his party as far as he could, stands down as leader. For four years he and Tony Blair had worked closely on a project intended to totally realign the Left in British politics. Ashdown's account reveals that having missed the chance to bring their plan to fruition immediately after the election, he and Blair tried again in November 1997 and once more a year later. It ultimately failed because of Blair's belief that he could not overcome the opposition within his own Cabinet. During their many meetings - some in the midle of the night -Ashdown and Blair built up the closest relationship of any two British political leaders in modern times.

Here, for the first time, is the gripping story of their complex and secret talks on how and when Ashdown should lead his party into the government. Intertwined with this tale of high politics, formidable willpower and strong emotion are two other great stories of Paddy Ashdown's leadership: the astonishing truth behind the Lib-Lab pact in the Scottish parliament and his involvement at the very highest level, both in the field and behind the scenes, in the Kosovo war. Candid, shrewd and exciting, the diaries present a vivid inside picture of Westminster, and the most intimate portrait yet of Blair and his government.

About the Author:

Before he began his political career, Paddy Ashdown served in the Royal Marine Commandos and the Special Boat Service (SBS) and afterwards as a member of the Diplomatic Service. In 1983 he became MP for Yeovil, and in 1988 won the leadership election for the new Social and Liberal Democrats. In the May 1997 election he led the Liberal Democrats to their greatest electoral achievement since 1929. He stood down as the party's leader in 1999.

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