Charles Kennedy – Principled. Charismatic. Liberal. Normal.

by Charlie_East_West on June 2, 2015


“Ignore things that don’t matter. Question things that do matter.”
– Charles Kennedy, 1997.

Charles Kennedy gave me these words of wisdom when I left my job as a Scottish Liberal Democrats researcher in 1997. Wise words indeed.

These words reflect the man. News of his death has left me deeply saddened. He was a politician of huge principle, charisma and blessed with that rarest of political qualities – the common touch. Charles was a normal human being working in a deeply weird and dysfunctional environment at Westminster. A highlander to the core, he was also blessed with that fantastic voice – quite possibly the best Scottish accent that I have ever heard, and combined with a wonderfully dry sense of humour.

He was an old fashioned liberal. He was one of the reasons I supported and worked for the Liberal Democrats. The fight against injustice. The promotion of compassion. Both traits were shown through his noble campaign against the war in Iraq. He was exactly what the Lib Dems stood for before the robotic, careerist Yellow Tory/Orange Bookers came along and stole the party.

Charles Kennedy was the most successful Lib Dem leader in terms of election success. The Lib Dems illiberal hounding him out of leadership due to his well documented battle with alcoholism was a deeply dispiriting moment in the history of the party. The tragic irony being that if he was still leader of the Lib Dems in 2010, it is unlikely that he would have ever dared to form a coalition with the Tories – and the subsequent election wipeout in 2015.

I have been lucky. I was privileged to work with him along with his fellow Scottish Liberal Democrats between 1995-1997. He was pretty easy to work with. He kept things simple. If I drafted a press release, he signed it off immediately. Pedantic semantical amendments were not his style. The little things did not matter a jot to him. The big things did. This approach encapsulated his words of wisdom to me.

A genuine man. A talented politician. Charles Kennedy will be missed.

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