Ashdown says Blair is 'flawed decision-maker'

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Tony Blair is a flawed decision-maker, the former Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown, claimed yesterday.

Tony Blair is a flawed decision-maker, the former Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown, claimed yesterday.

Mr Ashdown said he had been disappointed by the Prime Minister because of his refusal to bring Liberal Democrats into an alliance government after the 1997 election and because he has not taken the UK into the euro.

He told BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme: "His failure to face up to the big decision on Europe and his failure to do this [form an alliance] is indicative of a flaw of his."

Mr Ashdown said this was not deceit or deceiving others but "it may be a difficulty in taking decisions at the right time".

The Prime Minister had been described by Peter Mandelson as walking round decisions before "pouncing", Mr Ashdown said, but "sometimes he does not pounce".

On the euro, Mr Ashdown warned that Mr Blair would face growing difficulties because of his failure to take Britain in. "He is now in severe danger of the issue of the euro destabilising his premiership in just exactly the same way as it did John Major's. The longer he leaves it, the more damage it will do."

Mr Ashdown said he thinks the Liberal Democrats will be brought into government in the future and branded those who resisted it as "the forces of tribalism".

Asked why the plans broke down, he said: "Both of us were still in the psychology of fighting an election campaign rather than the psychology of the new government which was then being formed."

The attack comes as Mr Ashdown is promoting diaries of his time as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

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