'Don't panic' Ashdown tells the conference
Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown has urged members not to panic – telling them when he joined, the party could get all of its MPs "into a phone box".
The ex-Yeovil MP attempted to shake off repeated poll ratings of less than 10% by underlining the parlous state of the Liberals when he stood unsuccessfully in Somerset in the 1970s.
"The Tories had been in power since 1911," he said. "They didn't count their majorities they weighed them. Where I was representing a party that could very nearly get all of its MPs into a phone box."
Eventually elected for the Westcountry seat in 1983, Lord Ashdown built the party's powerbase in the South West.
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He added Nigel Farage's eurosceptic UK Independence Party has admitted how he is looking to ape the model.
Lord Ashdown told delegates in Glasgow: "I suppose all imitation is flattery, but there are limits.
"Just think for a moment, what are the slogans? 'Whinging here'. Or perhaps 'A record of extremism, a promise of more'."