How many skiers after Paddy Ashdown resigned as leader?

Ski-holidays revisited

In an earlier post on 19th January), I wrote about the annual Ashdown-Atkinson ski-tours and the large number of LibDem activists - including M.P.s, peers, at least one knight and lots of ordinary members like me. Many, if not most us, came with our families which meant that there could be as many as 20-30 of us being led down the pistes by our intrepid party leader.

At one point during the 1999 trip, Paddy and I were alone on a 2-seat chair-lift together - one of the only places for a private chat on such expeditions. He told me that, as you couldn't put a cigarette-paper between his politics and Tony Blair's, he was planning to quit the party leadership later that year - " give a new leader at least two years to establish himself and become well-known to voters before the next general election."

Although I was surprised (and less than 100% convinced by his argument), I managed not to pass his news on to anyone else, even though it became quite difficult towards the end of the holiday, after the Ashdowns and some of the others had gone home. On skiing up to a group of senior LibDems, I was greeted by "We think it's essential that Paddy leads us through the next election; what do you think."

I can't remember exactly how I replied, but it was along the lines of: "I know what you mean but I suppose it's really a  matter for him and Jane to decide."

A few weeks later, on 20th January, he announced his intention to resign the leadership of the Liberal Democrats. By August, 1999, the party had elected Charles Kennedy as their new leader.

The  next ski-holiday  

The following winter fewer than usual came on our annual ski-holiday. The Ashdowns, Atkinsons and Kenny-Levicks were all there and had a very merry time. But, although I'd notified everyone of the dates and location, none of the other LibDems were able to make it...

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