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Paddy Ashdown presented the idea of ​​a ‘hemispherical’ House of Commons

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown urged Tony Blair to renovate the House of Commons as a symbol of “new convention culture” as he seeks to reform British politics, the newly released government documents.

Papers, since 1998, released today by the National Archives, also revealed for the first time that Ashdown attempted photography. Ken Clarke, Former Conservative Chancellor, in his contract with Blair following the sweeping of Labor. 1997 election victory.

Ashdown’s actions led to a “coordination committee” in which members of the Labor and liberal Democrats sat together, as well as a report by Lord Jenkins, a former secretary of the Labor House and a senior member of the Lib Dems, on electoral changes. .

However, the paper revealed that Ashdown’s efforts to forge a multi-stakeholder alliance met with many suspicions from Downing Street, including Jonathan Powell, a senior staff member.

Ashdown offered his views on changing the design of the room in July 1998. Its design – common in European countries – was intended to be less controversial than in the past, where government and opposition lawmakers face each other.

“We want to set a realistic goal for the project, restore the importance of parliament and open up a new culture of dialogue, multiplication, debate and even disagreement,” Ashdown said in the letter.

“And as a sign of this we can say that we are going to change the structure of Parliament, transform it into a world and create a competition for this before the Millennium.”

In sending the letter to Blair, Powell asked for the Prime Minister to continue the agreement.

“I do not believe he has any plans for Parliament,” Powell wrote. “Are you sure you want to continue with this project?”

The Labor-Liberal Democrat coalition began with the recognition in the run-up to the 1997 elections that the two parties had similar interests and opposed many of the responsibilities that the Conservative Party, which has ruled since 1979, assumed. .

Both parties benefited from the election from an anti-Conservative opinion. Labor increased the representation of the Commons by 145 to 418 out of 659 seats, while the number of Liberal Democrats rose from 18 to 46.

Ashdown acknowledged in a July 1998 letter that critics could portray any move to deepen the alliance as a “violent alliance between the parties, not the interests of the country”.

He also said that instead he should show solidarity – as Ashdown expects the seat of his cabinet and the Liberal Democrat – “together to start something new”.

An April 1998 report from Ashdown to Blair stated that, at lunchtime, Clarke refused to attempt to promote multilateral cooperation, saying he would be a permanent judge.

Clarke, one of Europe’s most iconic finalists in his party, told Ashdown, according to sources, that his job, along with Tory Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, was to “keep good people in the party”.

Clarke urged Ashdown to force Blair to hold a referendum on British membership of the new EU euro before the election. No such referendum has ever taken place.

Blair and Ashdown publicly announced their intention to extend their agreement in November 1998. But the new papers made it clear that only a handful of Labor politicians, who had a larger majority of Commons, were interested in such an agreement.

The papers contained an email report, dated January 1998, from the Chief Complaints Officer from the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

“She was complaining. . . about Tony wanting to ‘kiss Lib Dem to death instead of pushing them to die’, “the email read.

The JCC was abolished after the 2001 elections, after Blair failed to hold a promising referendum on a change in voting, a crucial step for the Liberal Democrat.

Ashdown continued after leaving Commons to become an international Chief Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006 he dies in 2018, aged 77.

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