Tuesday, June 02, 2015
Charles Kennedy RIP
It is still difficult to comprehend the news of Charles Kennedy's death this morning. I got the announcement within seconds of turning on the radio. The less news is expected, the more shocking it is. He is a loss not just to the Lib Dems, but to the nation and to the pro-European movement. He would undoubtedly have played a major role in the forthcoming EU referendum.. In a world of colourless politicians, he was an inspiration.
I first met him at the Buxton SDP conference in 1984. I was staying at a campsite with about 12 others in a caravan and tent (I provided the tent!) and he visited us with the BBC to interview us about the joys of slumming it at conference. Our paths crossed more often when I worked for the party.
Sadly, inspiring colourful people too often have flaws and for Charles, it was his battle with alcohol. I was in the press conference at Cowley Street on 5th January 2006 when he admitted to the world he had a drink problem and announced he was putting his leadership to a vote of the membership. Days later, he announced his resignation. It was a sad end to his leadership. And while other senior figures in politics often don't go quietly, Charles did not use his backbench position to attack the leadership or the party.
So farewell Charles and thank you. You will be missed.