He was the Liberal Democrats’ most successful leader for 80 years, who won 62 seats in 2005, yet to many people he was “chat show Charlie”, a bibulous lightweight and an embarrassment to his party.
Everyone went on last week about his alcoholism – sometimes referred to has his “demons”. I could name a hundred politicians who drank. Winston Churchill started the day with a whisky, drank a bottle of Pol Roger champagne for lunch, and then began serious drinking in the evening. He seemed to manage it well enough to become Britain’s greatest war leader.
A different age, you say – and of course it was. But I can’t help wondering if we aren’t missing something here. We expect our politicians to be sober men and women who don’t have dark sides and never do anything at all in case it looks bad. Then we wonder why they’re just empty suits.
I’m not sure the reputation was entirely justified. I can honestly say that in all the years I knew him I never once saw Charles Kennedy the worse for drink. But the post-mortem on his death at 55 was unequivocal: Charles Kennedy died of a massive haemorrhage caused by alcohol.
Alastair Campbell was on the air within minutes, calling for Westminster to take the lead in addressing our drink culture. He even commended the SNP Government in Scotland for taking the kind of action that Westminster has fudged.
FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/charles-kennedy-was-a-victim-of-one-of-the-most-remarkable-shifts-in-political-al.128189217
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