More than 600 pupils, parents and Petersfield locals were delighted to be given an audience with Paddy Ashdown on March 21.
The lecture, entitled: ‘Why the world will never be the same again (and what we should do about it)’, provided a fascinating insight into the current state of play from a man who has been involved in high level politics for many years.
He began the lecture by saying: “If you have come here to be cheered up, you might be disappointed,” referencing the unstable nature of world politics and the fact that this is unlikely to change quickly.
He explained that in today’s world everything is interconnected – that world criminality is now global, not limited to “unilateral organisations” such as individual countries or territories. What happens in one place quickly and easily affects somewhere hundreds of miles away. He used the example of swine flu breaking out in Mexico and the direct impact on Glasgow Airport only hours later.
In another example, he pointed out that the G8 became the G20 because it was no longer enough to only include such a small number of countries – world economics had become much further-reaching than this.
Paddy Ashdown’s solution to global instability is a system of global governance (which he distinguished clearly from ‘government’) and suggesting that treaty-based organisations would do this best. In his own words, “we need order and governance in the global space.” He went on to say the UK needs to build alliances and diplomatic bridges with those with whom we have shared goals.
Other parts of the lecture touched on the rise in importance of food security, terrorism in today’s world, and the inevitability of the rise of China as a global power and interestingly, a peacemaker. He closed the evening stating “the most important thing you do, is what you can do with others” and to promote world peace, we must understand and learn to love our enemy.
The event is part of Churcher’s College’s Academic Lecture Series; The Grill Lecture, which takes place annually and was named after Judy Grill, a former teacher at Churcher’s College. Previous speakers have included Lord Robert Winston, John McCarthy and Monty Halls. Prior to the event, Paddy Ashdown met and spent time with with Churcher’s College’s Sixth Form students.
About Paddy Ashdown
Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG KBE PC has had a wide and varied career. After school, he served for 13 years as a Royal Marines Officer, including Special Forces and command of a Special Boat Section in the Far East. He then studied Chinese in Hong Kong, obtaining a First Class interpretership in Mandarin before returning to the UK.
Paddy left the Royal Marines to join the Foreign Office for four years, before standing as the Liberal candidate for Yeovil (a seat held by the Conservatives since 1910) which he won in 1983. He was also appointed the Liberal Spokesman on Trade and Industry. In 1987 he became the Liberal/SDP Alliance spokesman on Trade and Industry and Education Spokesman. In 1988 he became the leader of the Liberal Democrats and was appointed Privy Councillor in 1989. Paddy stood down as leader in 1999 and retired from the Commons in 2001.
He went on to serve as International High Representative and European Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 – 06 and was awarded the GMCG on his return to the UK for his work to secure peace in the Balkans.
The author of a number of articles on foreign affairs and politics, Paddy has also published nine books, including two volumes of Diaries, a book on peace keeping, a best-selling memoir and three historical narratives based around Special Forces and the French Resistance in World War Two. His latest book Game of Spies: the Secret Agent, the Traitor and the Nazis was published in September 2016.