Charlie Kennedy 316

I have known Charlie since about 1979. He was, and always remained, a brilliant, witty and very gentle man. His weaknesses were of the gregarious kind, one of many things we had in common. We first met on the universities debating circuit and in student politics. He became President of Glasgow University Union and I of Dundee University Students Association. As we both ran as Liberal Democrats that was uncommon. By one of life’s quirks, a generation later he was Rector of Glasgow University and I was Rector of Dundee University. We both shared a horror of the marketization of universities and an urgent desire to return to the old Scottish tradition of democratic governance, and we worked together with other Rectors to institute regular Rectors’ meetings and try to make the office of Rector relevant.

Charlie had come under the most enormous pressure not to oppose the Iraq war. The entire force of the British establishment bore down on him, including from former party leaders and from Ming Campbell, though he denies it now. Charlie showed tremendous courage and spirit in resisting the pressures to which almost everybody in authority in the Westminster power structure caved in.

Charlie told me the story of how, as party leader, he was invited by Blair to Downing Street to be shown the original key evidence on Iraqi WMD. Charlie was really worried as he walked there, that there really would be compelling evidence as Blair said, and he would then be unable to maintain the party line against the war. When he saw the actual intelligence on which the dodgy dossier was based, he was astounded. It was incredibly weak and “totally unconvincing”. Blair was not present while Charlie saw the reports, but he saw him afterwards and told Blair he was quite astonished by the paucity of the evidence. Blair went white and looked really rattled, and resorted to a plea for patriotic solidarity. He then reminded Charlie he was not allowed to reveal what he had seen. Charlie felt bound by good faith – he had been shown the intelligence in confidence – not to publish this. Not I think his best moral judgement.

Charlie was very definitely not an enthusiastic supporter of the coalition and, though a federalist not a nationalist, generally kept his distance from the Better Together campaign. He seemed to me to have lost self-confidence through the exposure of his struggles with alcohol, and probably underrated his influence. Charlie was consistent in both his faults and his principles. As President of Glasgow University Union, he was inclined to hands off sybaritism; his expenses and use of taxis became an issue, and that epicurean streak never left him. In his presence I always felt an inferior talent, and those of us who knew him 35 years ago I think all expected him to rise even higher than he did. But he never had the sociopathic streak that makes a dominant political career, and he was at base a very decent and kind man. That is how I shall remember him.

316 thoughts on “Charlie Kennedy

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  • RobG

    Dreoilin, if your comment is directed at me I’m not sure what you’re getting at?

    Do you want us to all be sheep?

    Is being totally stupid the new chic?

    In which case you are there, honey.

  • YouKnowMyName

    As another sheep, I’ve just noticed that the summer offensive has started, a coalition government of Chocolate & Uhmurkin forners is now firing all its weapons at civilians along the eastern front – firing eastwards along the eastern front, hoping to provoke a response?

    Perhaps it’s connected with a denunciation at the G.7 in a few days?

    More than 19 non-combatants, locals, dead, today, no whisky involved.

  • Dreoilin

    “Dreoilin, if your comment is directed at me I’m not sure what you’re getting at?”

    It wasn’t directed at anyone. I was reminding myself that I’m not staying here batting a tabletennis ball back and forth for the rest of the evening. Which is mostly what goes on here.

    “In which case you are there, honey.”

    Thank you. Love your manners.

  • RobG

    3 Jun, 2015 – 7:23 am

    But let’s get back to the real world where we are run by psychopaths and their minions.

    Just look at comment threads like this.

    The totally psycho is now the new normal.

  • Dreoilin

    “Try telling us something new or of interest.”

    Is the above from RobG at 7.25pm the kind of thing you’re talking about Mary?

  • RobG

    3 Jun, 2015 – 7:34 pm

    I could give you more on this, but I won’t do so out of respect for Craig.

    In the meantime it’s over to the psychos…

  • RobG

    Here’s one for the psychos.

    Of course it has nothing to do with three commercial-size reactors being in complete meltdown on the coast of Japan for more than four years now…

    I know I’m wasting my breath trying to inform people about the death of the Pacific Ocean.

    That’s why the human race has had it.

    Your extinction was due to complete, total and utter stupidity and greed.

  • Dreoilin

    “Your extinction was due to complete, total and utter stupidity and greed.”

    Why don’t you say “our”? Do you have escape plans?

  • Dreoilin

    “Sorry, Dreoilin, but I don’t count myself as one of you.
    You are all completely insane.”

    Nevertheless I understood you were talking about the “human race”. So what are you, a lizard?

  • Villager

    “I must find a few more illustrations of Israeli barbarity. It will be an easy task.”

    Mary musturbating. Not a pretty sight!

  • Villager

    TC agree. It is repulsive to see such an acutely narrow mind.

    Mine is just to paint the caricature. Don’t shoot the messenger! 😉 I am just ferreting out the bigots and exposing them to, and in, broad daylight.

  • Clark

    RobG, *sigh*. You linked to a Guardian article recently giving figures for the increase in cancer rates. Appalling. But nowhere near high enough even to halt the rise of the human population.

    I want all the power reactors shut down and decommissioned. But your claims of human extinction due to the Fukushima disaster just don’t seem convincing. I suppose I’d best put myself against a wall and shoot myself for saying so. Then you’ll have one less anti-nuclear-power campaigner.

  • technicolour

    You tell yourself that, if you want to, Villager. In reality, you’re frequently outright winning on this blog’s repulsion stakes, and the extremes you go to are unjustifiable.

  • Villager

    Thanks TC, I hear what you are saying, but please forgive me dear friend if I decline to enter myself to your judgement.

    I’d be happy to hear from you on what you made of Mary and PostmanofScotland flirting with the troll and sock-puppet (next thread).

  • Republicofscotland

    “I’d be happy to hear from you on what you made of Mary and PostmanofScotland flirting with the troll and sock-puppet (next thread).”

    Yes so would I go on then,it would appear by TC’s comment,that even he things you’re a bit of a plonker.

    He wouldn’t be wrong.

  • BrianFujisan

    Conga Eel

    Sorry if i don’t recollect seeing you here before.. Thanks for posting.

    Villager on the other hand has been around long enough to Know why i use Japan’s sacred mountain…that i am a jui jitsu expert… Total Fail Villager..Wise up

  • Rehmat

    Jonathan Arkush, president of Board of Deputies of British Jews, paid rich tributes to Charles Kennedy by saying: “Mr. Kennedy had a warm relationship with the Jewish community and Israel during his time leading the party and also as an MP during his long political career.”

    In March 2009, MP Kennedy defended his loyalty to the Zionist entity during a speech at Calderwood Lodge School attended by 200 Zionist Jews. He told his audience: “I sacked a member of my front bench over her criticism of Israel.” He was making reference to his firing of MP Jenny Tonge, now Baroness Tonge, in 2004.

  • RobG

    Clark, here’s some of the latest…

    And I’ll repeat my earlier link to a Guardian piece…

    The laughable (and sad) thing is that none of these reports about the mass die-offs in the Pacific Ocean ever mention the ‘F’ word, or the ‘R’ word.

    Bottom line is, humans are so greedy and stupid that they’ll let the Pacific Ocean die (and by extension, a large part of the human race) just to earn a buck.

    So long, and thanks for all the fish…

  • Clark

    RobG, you didn’t engage with my point. You repeatedly exaggerate the effects of the Fukushima disaster. I think such alarmism is counter-productive; people who accept it but then find out it’s exaggerated become likely to dismiss accurate warnings of the actual damage and dangers, and as you correctly point out there are too few such reports to begin with.

    I mention this again because we’ve seen it happen so many times; many anti-nuclear campaigners repeatedly discredit their own activism by making exaggerated claims. Have you never heard the stories of Chicken Little or the Boy Who Cried Wolf? Or are you really a secret agent?

  • RobG

    Clark, Chernobyl is still often referred to as the ‘worst nuclear accident’, yet the No.4 unit at Chernobyl was one third of the size of any of the reactors at Fukushima, and was a partial meltdown that was ‘contained’ within 10 days (at a huge loss of life that is still denied by the nuclear industry).

    At Fukushima there are three full-size commercial reactors in complete and ongoing meltdown, and it’s been going on for more than four years now, and due to corruption and stupidity it looks like it will continue for hundreds of years. There’s also at least two spent fuel pools that went sky high as well. Watch this brief video, it shows the massive explosion at unit 3 on 14th March 2011. By way of perspective, the vent stacks shown in this video are about as high as a 40 storey building…

    Unit 3 was running MOX fuel (illegally under Japanese law) and anyone who knows about these things will realise that just this one explosion was ‘it’; but on top of this unit 1 also exploded and went into complete meltdown. Unit 2 also went into meltdown but as far as we know there wasn’t an explosion. At unit 4 there was a severe fuel pool fire. All four reactor buildings at Fukushima Daiichi are now so radioactive that no one can get near them, and robots get fried within minutes (the fuel rod removal at reactor 4 is a complete farce and pr stunt). There’s also problems at the nearby Fukushima Daani plant, which has four reactors, but there’s never any solid information given about that.

    The salient point is that each of these reactors and fuel pools – just one of them – contains enough manmade radioactive crap to wipe out all life on earth. Unit 3, running MOX fuel, contains enough crap to wipe out our solar system.

    It sounds like something out of Thunderbirds, doesn’t it. In the meantime the WHO gave us the jolly announcement that cancer rates will increase by 70% over the next 20 years…

    Am I making this stuff up..?

    I only wish I were…

  • RobG

    Clark, I know I’ve refused to engage you on nuclear issues in previous threads (my bad), but I’ll check back on this thread and will respond to anything you might say to me.

  • Clark

    RobG, you linked to a 2011 interview of Chris Busby recently. He described three likely scenarios of how the Fukushima disaster could develop: (1) They could keep pouring water on it thus washing contaminants into the ocean, (2) one or more cores could undergo prompt-critical explosion dispersing contaminants into the atmosphere, and (3) Busby’s choice of least-bad; the cores could just continue melting their way into the ground.

    Of these three, (3) is what is happening. Busby thought that a prompt-critical explosion was most likely; thankfully that hasn’t happened. Ironic to say it, but the world has been lucky – so far. After this much time I doubt that any of the Fukushima units will go prompt-critical and explode, but there are plenty more reactors out there.

    You wrote:

    “…due to corruption and stupidity it looks like it will continue for hundreds of years”

    What would you have them do? Busby seems to think it best to let the cores melt into the ground and he may well be right.

    Regarding the Guardian article:

    The incidence of cancer globally has increased in just four years from 12.7m in 2008 to 14.1m new cases in 2012, when there were 8.2m deaths. Over the next 20 years, it is expected to hit 25m a year – a 70% increase.

    The cancer death rate is less than 60% of the cancer incidence rate, and not all cancer is caused by radioactive contaminants, but even comparing the full figure of 25 million per year against the global population increase rate which has probably exceeded 80 million per year by now, we are still looking at substantial population increase rather than extinction, and that means that global warming is the major, and increasing, threat.

    None of which justifies power reactors – decommission them all as fast as politically possible – but it’s suicidally stupid to exaggerate a lesser threat while ignoring a greater one.

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