A week ago we had the death of Charles Kennedy, the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats. His death cannot have been entirely unexpected, not only because of longstanding ill-health issues, but also that those were not unlinked with his now well-known alcoholism. Having lost his seat, despite the fact that there were further opportunities beckoning him, the temptation to drink must have been overwhelming.
It has however been interesting to see how his death has been reported by the British Establishment Political class and the comments that they have made, which all seem to be along the lines of what a wonderful warm person he was. I did not know him personally and, indeed, never met him so I cannot vouch either way for that.
The one certain thing that I do know about him which has an impact on my attitude to him is that, not surprisingly, as a Lib Dem Leader, he was a highly enthusiastic Europhile who, not only as a Lib Dem, but also as a Scot, hated the “very idea of England”.
Indeed he told a Dumfermline meeting of Liberal Democrats back in 1999, when he was their Leader, that he was an enthusiastic supporter of Regionalisation “Because Regionalism in England is calling into question the very idea of England itself”. Nothing could really be clearer as to his Anglophobia. That is enough to damn him politically as far as I am concerned.
It is however interesting to consider the British Political and Media reaction to mr Kennedy's death. Especially, in light of the kind of comments that they have made about Alex Salmond’s comment in which he simply tried to suggest that Charles Kennedy might have had some sympathy for the Europhile SNP brand of Scottish nationalism. This may after all be true, since it certainly is the case that Mr Kennedy was keen, as any Europhile would be, to break up the old great Nation States so they could be more readily digested by the emerging EU State.
We are hearing a lot about Magna Carta at the moment but we don’t need to go back nearly as far as that to a day when it was quite normal for rival politicians not merely to hate each other but to try to get their rivals executed when they fell from power. That was the normal state of affairs in England as recently as the early 18th Century and in the 17th Century it was all too typical.
Of course in those days politicians generally sincerely believed in their politics. Also then the difference between the various political groupings was a serious matter of principle, as opposed to the sort of cosy club that now prevails and which Alex Salmond would appear to be in danger of being blackballed from!
Here is an example of the type of article which I am refering to:-
With Charles Kennedy’s death a light has gone out in Scottish and British politics
The late former Liberal Democrat leader always had a smile on his face, but was every inch the serious politician
By Alan Cochrane
Charlie Kennedy was one of those fortunate people who didn’t need a surname. To everyone, throughout Scotland and over the entire political world, he was just Charlie. Thus when I received a text shortly after six thirty this morning asking: “Have you heard about Charlie,” I knew at once who we were talking about.
And, sadly, I also at once guessed the worst. To many, if not most, of those who knew Charlie Kennedy it was not an exactly surprising, if still appalling, bit of news that he had died a little over three weeks after losing his seat in his beloved Highlands in the general election.
I take nothing away from the Ian Blackford, the SNP candidate who defeated Charlie – he has all the attributes necessary to turn out to be an accomplished MP – but with Kennedy’s death a light has gone out in Scottish and British politics.
That may appear as an over-worn cliché but Charlie Kennedy did brighten every room, every company, every conversation he entered. He was a marvellous communicator an engaging companion and will be missed terribly.
There was an impish quality to his public persona and he was seldom without a smile on his face but he was every inch the serious politician and was a hugely successful Liberal Democrat leader – at least with the public.
He demonstrated in spades his political skills in what was perhaps his finest political hour – when he withheld his party’s support from George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, leaving only the Tories on their own in backing Tony Blair. It was tactical masterstroke which increased dramatically his party’s support in the country in the 2005 general election.
But you cannot talk about Charlie Kennedy without talking about his battle with booze. He did not hide his struggle with drink. At first when challenged about his drinking, he tried to laugh it off and insisted that as a Highlander it was not exactly an unnatural trait for him to enjoy a dram. However, he did eventually concede that it was a problem that had got out of hand and he did try to tackle it. But it did contribute to his losing the leadership of the Lib Dems and thereafter his position in the political firmament gradually receded.
However, his popularity with the general public never diminished and he played a key part in fighting by-elections for the Lib Dems and was one of the stars of the all-party Better Together campaign last year in fighting off the SNP led plan to break up Britain. Charlie spent the bulk of that campaign in his native Highlands, helping to ensure that it voted ‘No’ to independence.
I didn’t see much of Charlie recently, and I had the impression that of late he seldom ventured out of his Highland fastness. However, when last we encountered each other he pointed at me and with a huge grin asked the assembled company: “I see a large edifice over there. It looks like Alan Cochrane.”
You couldn’t really use such a description about Charlie Kennedy. He may have put the beef on a bit lately but he will best remembered as that slight, red-haired Highlander with a permanent grin on his face.
But there was nothing insignificant about his political standing and the affection in which he was held by the people who matter most – the voters.
He will be much missed.
(To see original article, click here >>> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/politics-blog/11645170/Voters-will-remember-Charles-Kennedy-with-affection.html).