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Sir Bob Russell pays tribute to Paddy Ashdown

December 23, 2018 1:36 PM
Originally published by Essex Liberal Democrats

Sir Bob Russell, who was Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester for 18 years from 1997 to 2015, has paid tribute to "my friend and colleague" Lord Paddy Ashdown whose death was announced on Saturday evening.

Paddy Ashdown addresses Lib Dem spring conference 2013

Sir Bob said: "Paddy Ashdown was a great Parliamentarian, and I am honoured to call him both a friend and colleague - someone who did so much to make it possible for me to be elected MP for Colchester.

"Paddy visited Colchester half-a-dozen times, both before and after I was elected as the first Liberal Democrat MP in the East of England. I believe it was this personal commitment by him that helped me secure a narrow victory in a three-way marginal.

"Those visits by Paddy made it clear to everyone that the Liberal Democrats were serious about winning Colchester. I shall always be grateful to Paddy for his personal commitment to me and to Colchester.

"I first got to know him, in person, in 1995 when I was selected as candidate for Colchester - the top target seat for the Liberal Democrats in the East of England.

"Once I was elected two years later I obviously got to know him more, as a Parliamentary colleague. He was always friendly and supportive, and I think he - as a former military man - particularly liked the fact that I was MP for a garrison town.

"He would always engage MPs in discussions. He was engaging in a very pleasant way, with a lovely sense of humour. I recall Paddy's mischievous comments when his local football team Yeovil, from the town where he was MP, thrashed Colchester United one year.

"Parliament and the country, not just the Liberal Democrats, have lost someone who contributed so much. I shall always be grateful for his support to me, for it was his personal commitment which led me being elected MP for Colchester."