Lord Paddy Ashdown, one of the UK's most influential politicians, is the first headline speaker to be confirmed for the BMF All Industry Conference 2017, which takes place in Budapest next June.
A former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Ashdown now sits in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat peer whose experience extends far beyond the bounds of domestic politics. Before entering Parliament in 1983, he served as a Special Forces Commando in the Royal Marines, then joined the Foreign Office where he was posted to the British Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, taking part in the negotiation of several international treaties.
Lord Ashdown retired from the House of Commons in 2001, the same year he was made a Life Peer. After stepping down as an MP his detailed understanding of the Balkans led to his appointment as UN High Representative and European Union Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the conflict in that country in the 1990s, he was one of the leading advocates for decisive action by the international community, arguing that it would help bring the war to an early close.
He has since published two volumes of his diaries and written other books including 'To Build a State', which examines the challenges of nation building in a post conflict environment and bringing stability to destabilised and lawless spaces, and 'Swords and Ploughshares: Bringing Peace to the 21st Century'. His most recent book 'Game of Spies: The Secret Agent, the Traitor and the Nazi, Bordeaux 1942-1944' is being published by Harper Collins in September 2016.
Most recently, following the result of the UK's Referendum on EU membership, Lord Ashdown helped to launch More United, a new movement setting out to change British politics. It aims to give a voice to "the millions of open minded and tolerant people in the UK" by helping to get more progressive politicians, from any party, elected in order to shift the balance in Parliament away from extremism.
John Newcomb, BMF managing director, said: "We are delighted that Paddy Ashdown will address BMF's All Industry Conference next year. The current political landscape reflects our Conference theme of 'Change, Challenge and Opportunity'. As a leading international political strategist Lord Ashdown is well placed to speak on the future of the UK outside the EU. I'm sure everyone will be keen to hear his thoughts on this and other issues and I have no doubt that his session will be one of the highlights of the Conference."
Mr Newcomb added: "Paddy Ashdown follows in the footsteps of two leading political speakers at previous Conferences, Michael Portillo in 2013 and Alastair Campbell in 2015, which means that we will have had all three major parties, Conservative, Labour and now Liberal Democrat, represented at the BMF Conference."
The BMF All Industry Conference takes place in Budapest from 15 to 18 June, 2017, at the five-star Intercontinental Hotel. Broadcaster and TV personality Gethin Jones will host the event, which has already sold out.
Further details are available on the Conference website, www.bmfconference2017.co.uk.