James Forsyth

What Gordon told Paddy

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Michael White has the scoop on a classic exchange between Gordon Brown and Paddy Ashdown when Brown was trying to persuade Ashdown to come into his big tent:

When Paddy Ashdown turned down a cabinet post - Northern Ireland - he explained: "I can't support your attitudes towards civil liberties." GB is supposed to have asked: "But could you keep quiet about them?" No.

It is easy to see how Ashdown resisted this seduction attempt. But as White points out, the interesting question is what will happen when the various Tories and Lib Dems who were vain enough to accept Brown's blandishments realise that he is taking advantage of them.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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