Sunday, September 12, 2010

David Steel, Paddy Ashdown and mingling

The Independent on Sunday reported this morning that:
Nick Clegg has told his ministers to "mingle" at the Liberal Democrat conference next week, to avoid the impression that being in government has gone to their heads.
Paddy Ashdown was the great mingler among senior Lib Dems. At Conference you would often find him in the bars in the evening with his jacket slung casually over his shoulder, chatting with delegates.

This made a hugely favourable impression because of the approach of Paddy's predecessor, the last Liberal leader David Steel.

Steel did not mingle at all. You only ever saw him at the centre of a large entourage as it swept through the Conference venue. Advisers, spin doctors, bag carriers, interns, speechwriters, minor celebrities, heads of state of small Commonwealth countries... if the party was doing well it could take several minutes to pass.

Paddy's approach was undoubtedly the right one. So Liberal Democrat ministers should mingle for all they are worth in Liverpool.

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