Paddy Ashdown invokes Jo Cox memory with new group to fight political 'extremes'

Posted On: 
24th July 2016

Liberal Democrat grandee Paddy Ashdown has set up a fresh political movement to stop Britain being “dragged away to the extremes”.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown
PA Images

MoreUnited.UK intends to support political candidates it agrees with - regardless of their party affiliation - with cash and on-the-ground campaigners.

Former party leader Lord Ashdown said his plan was in-part inspired by Labour MP Jo Cox, who was killed last month, and was about giving “voice to the voiceless who want to hold this country in the centre”.

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“There are hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of people out there who hate seeing our country dragged away to the extremes,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

He said those people “believe in what I would call the values of a civilised country” and “want to have a means - not necessarily through a political party - to express their view”.

The peer listed four principles of the campaign group, which he said would start taking donations of any amount if it amassed 25,000 supporters.

His principles included a market-based economy “where the market is our servant not our masters” and a commitment to a proportionally representative voting system.

The group would also seek to be “as close to the EU as possible” and would support re-joining the bloc if the opportunity arose.

Lord Ashdown said the group – which has been backed by historian Simon Schama and entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox – would was about “ordinary people” rather than politicians.

“This movement gives voice to the voiceless who want to hold this country in the centre,” he argued.

“And gives them the financial and manpower ability, leverage to make sure they get their way with candidates selected from any party.”