Ashdown resigns: `I Shall Lay This Down With Great Sadness'

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The Independent Online
From Ashdown's letter to his MPs: "... After what will have been a very happy and productive 11 years as leader, the tasks I set myself to achieve for the party are now nearing completion. I therefore told our Chief Whip that I planned to stand down after the elections of this May and June.

"This has not been an easy decision. I would not, for anything, have missed the privilege of leading the Liberal Democrats for the past decade or so. It has been, quite simply, the best thing I have done in my life.

"... We are in the fortunate position of having potential leadership candidates of high ability and enthusiasm. There will, I know, be many new opportunities which a new leader with fresh energy and new ideas will be best able to grasp. To his Yeovil constituency party chairman, Hilary Leamon: "... I have been very proud to be the MP for Yeovil. But I also have a very clear idea of how the job of MP for Yeovil ought to be done and no wish to continue beyond the point where I feel I can do this justice. I shall, when the time comes, lay all this down with great sadness ..."