Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A good man...

So bye bye Charles Kennedy, much loved by those who knew him well, much respected by those whose only connection with him was his media exploits and his close alignment with social democratic politics.

To those, like myself, who met him and listened to him hold forth at Libdem conferences in the late 1980's and early 90's he was a breath of fresh air, funny and self effacing unlike some of the more 'serious' politicians who he often sent up over a beer or two.  The usual kill joy chunterers that trammel their way across any organisation 'hurrumphed' about his appearances on 'Have I got News for You' and similar television and radio programs as not being how 'proper politicians' should conduct themselves by 'making light' of important issues and, the ultimate sin, 'laughing at themselves and their party'.

I note that Alex Salmond is under attack for suggesting Mr Kennedy was less than happy with the 'Better Together' campaign's approach but to a man whom was a committed UK federalist, Mr Kennedy's less than ringing endorsement of the campaign for the status quo is unsurprising. At some point in the future we may discover Charles Kennedy was badgering Clegg to get a 'devo-max' option on the ballot for September 2014. I would be very surprised if he did not.

According to Alistair Campbell, Mr Kennedy was talking half seriously about creating a new left of centre party to counter act Westminster's continuing right wing drift by looking to have informal discussions with members of the social democrat wing of Labour to create a way forward for this 'proto' party over the next year. Not, I would suggest, the actions of a man who had given up on life after losing his seat to the SNP in the General Election but just the sort of action of a man thoroughly disillusioned with what the Parliament at Westminster has become, holding true to his social democratic beliefs as, like Jimmy Reid before him discovered, his party had left him in its rush for ministerial limousines, red boxes and the associated 'perks'.

The mark of the man is he did not back stab the Libdem Party with 'off the record' briefings or 'insider leaks', so beloved of Labour's apparatchiks, but held his 'wheesht', no matter how much he disagreed with being Conservative lobby fodder or Clegg's ineffectual coalition with Cameron. How sad must he have been to see the party he lead to its best results in half a century in 2005 reduced by Clegg's mishandling to a state not seen since the barren days of Jeremy Thorpe, able to get all its MPs and MSPs in two taxis. Not much of a reward for staying loyal to a party he believed in and must have hoped would find its heart and soul once released from Cameron's clammy grip on its throat. Clegg 'triangulated' - Kennedy must have been distraught at the failure to create a clear difference between the Libdems and the other two parties offerings, wondering if his personal vote would carry him through because Clegg's Libdem manifesto offering had left him with little other hope.

A sad end for a singular man and a loss for all of us interested in Scottish politics, whether we agreed with him or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment