This is from the GMTV Sunday programme earlier in the year. No wonder Paddy felt he had to say no...
Steve Richards: Have you got a sense now from the more relaxed perspective from which you can view these things compared with the mid 1990's about how Gordon Brown will approach this specific area of foreign affairs? Is it your sense that he will be empathic to the agenda you broadly outlined in this interview and which you will do so in more detail in the book?
Paddy Ashdown: My guess is not. I mean, I don't think he likes foreign policy, I don't think he's very interested in it. He's passionately interested in Africa but I think that comes much more from his Methodist, his Presbyterian upbringing in the Manse. You know, I suspect it's the same general instinct that would have caused his mother to sell jam for starving children in Africa on the stalls in Edinburgh or Glasgow or wherever he was. So I don't think he has a grand world vision in the way that Blair, maybe too much, had a grand world vision. One of the things that worries me about Blair sometimes is this sense of Messianic and moral purpose, which I quite dislike in somebody who leads the country into war. So no, I don't think he will be. I think he will have a narrower vision. I remember saying to a friend recently that I thought that Camelot would turn to Gormenghast overnight when Gordon Brown came to power. Our spectral Prime Minister would be seen flitting up Downing Street after the hours of darkness and there would be a single guttering candle shining out of a window in Downing Street. So I think it would be a rather more gloomy Downing Street than we have at present.
Steve Richards: That's quite an image. Given that obviously the current leader of your country Sir Menzies Campbell has some important calculations to make, you famously moved your party away from what's called equidistance - going through the middle of the other parties and keeping a similar gap between both. I got the impression at his weekend speech in Harrogate that Menzies Campbell was saying 'No way can the Conservatives meet the challenges I'm setting!'. Well, he was explicit. He said 'They can't meet them. Gordon Brown, meet them and you'll have done the business!'. Was he indicating a sort of movement?
Paddy Ashdown: You'd better ask him, Steve, not me. I mean look, Gladstone once famously said that ex-Prime Ministers, for this take ex-party leaders, are like untethered battleships in the harbour. They bang about and do a lot of damage. I said when I finished my job that I would leave the decisions, the very difficult decisions that have to be taken, and not interfere in them - certainly not in public! The truth is that each of the past Liberal Democrat leaders has had an opportunity to do this. Thorpe did; Steel did, as you recall; I did. Each of them did it in a different circumstance and had a different hand of cards to play and Menzies will be different as well and he will have to take those decisions for himself. One thing I would say, however, and it's the only exception I make to this rule, and I suspect Menzies would say it too, is this: you know the old phrase in English 'If you dine with the Devil, you take a long spoon' - I would not dine with God if PR was not on the menu, but I would dine with the Devil if it was.
Steve Richards: Right, so absolutely central to it is proportional representation.
Paddy Ashdown: That's my view.
Steve Richards: Right, that's absolutely your view. It's interesting: he didn't mention that actually in his speech.
Paddy Ashdown: I wouldn't dine with God if PR was not on the menu but I'd dine with the Devil if it was.