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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  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Happy to agree with all of the above comments on Charles Kennedy (and with Craig’s tribute to him). One of the better guys.

  • fred

    “Heart wasn’t in “better together” shock horror….true.”

    Sick.

    Couldn’t even let the body go cold.

  • John Goss

    Wonder what we’ll get from the lips of Cameron, something musteline I have no doubt, like his eulogy to Nelson Mandela, for whom his mindset and contemporaries wore ‘Hang Mandela’ badges in their college days. Mandela probably knew about Cameron ‘losing’ nuclear weapons and definitely wanted an independent court for the Lockerbie trial. Instead they borrowed a bit of Holland, called it Scotland for the sake of the trial, and convicted an innocent man.

    Everyone was also aware of Cameron’s all-expenses-paid trip to Apartheid South Africa while Mandela was still in prison. Cameron’s tribute was glowing.

    “Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death – a true global hero.

    “Across the country he loved they will be mourning a man who was the embodiment of grace.

    “Meeting him was one of the great honours of my life.”

    Then he and Obama took a selfie at his memorial service squeezing in close to the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, an laughing. It does not matter which of the tabloids you read. It seems they all covered the selfie story.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/nelson-mandela-memorial-david-cameron-2912167

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Couldn’t even let the body go cold.

    There is no tasteful way of expressing what I feel about your contribution, si I pass on that.

  • Briar

    “Heart wasn’t in “better together” shock horror….true.” Indeed. Monstering Salmond is a long-standing tactic, used against anyone not singing from the free marketeers’ song-sheet. Evidently telling the truth, a truth which in no way discredits Mr Kennedy (who also told the truth), is “sociopathic”.

  • Dreoilin

    “Evidently telling the truth, a truth which in no way discredits Mr Kennedy (who also told the truth), is “sociopathic”.”

    Yes, smacks a bit of desperation.

  • Mary

    Thanks John. Yes fine now as you are too I trust. Weather awful though.

    Here is Charles in a HoC debate with BLiar in 2004. BLiar had just been to see Bush and Kofi Annan. Note BLiar’s support for Israel.

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2004-04-19.21.0#g27.1

    Full debate
    Iraq and Middle East Peace Process
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2004-04-19.21.0#g21.1

    11 years later little has changed for Palestine or for Iraq.

    There will no eulogies for BLiar when his time comes.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Very typical of the Eminences, even on a thread of this nature:

    1/. Conspiracy:

    “Am I reading too much into it all to wonder about a third highly principled Scot to die suddenly, after John Smith and Robin Cook?” From “Tom”.

    “Just too British with the public finding nothing suspicious of the great man suddenly dying at age 55 after his whole public life lay in ruins.” From Trowbridge

    2/. Obsessions

    “It occurs to me that some MPs (including Dominic Grieve) will know a great deal of the truth about the death of Dr. David Kelly which the rest of us will have to wait another 65 years to know thanks to Lord Hutton.” From Big Ears

    “We should never forget that blog trolls are the tip of the iceberg so far as establishment skullduggery go. Anyone body who seeks truth is interfered with. If Charles Kennedy had coping mechanisms for this truth-hating skullduggery, so do I, and the estblishment lackeys in the mosques get fed information about my weaknesses.” From Guano

    “Mandela probably knew about Cameron ‘losing’ nuclear weapons and definitely wanted an independent court for the Lockerbie trial. Instead they borrowed a bit of Holland, called it Scotland for the sake of the trial, and convicted an innocent man.” From Mr Goss (again)

    3/.The sourpusses (gracious even in the face of death):

    “The Guardian are trawling up the likes of Gordon Brown, Prescott and Diane Abbott for their eulogies. The usual NuLabour gross hypocrisy.” From Mary

    ++++++++++++++++++

    These incontinent people really have no shame.

  • fred

    “Evidently telling the truth, a truth which in no way discredits Mr Kennedy (who also told the truth), is “sociopathic”.”

    The truth is Charles Kennedy worked hard and campaigned hard for a united Britain.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Nothing conspiratorial in my comment, Habby.

    Just alluding to the hypocrisy of politicians and the media who helped drive him to drink, and ultimately killing himself.

  • Frazer

    Aye..a good tribute to a decent man..I will raise a wee glass to the man tonight..

  • Juteman

    For disgusting Britnat comments, check out the latest post on Wings over Scotland.
    Truely shameful comments from Freds hate squad.

  • MJ

    “Just alluding to the hypocrisy of politicians and the media who helped drive him to drink, and ultimately killing himself”

    As far as I’m aware all we know about the circumstances of his death is that he was at home, it was sudden and the police believe it was not suspicious. It may have been unrelated to drinking.

  • Republicofscotland

    Yes I have to agree with you Craig,Charles Kennedy was a very likeable guy,he’ll surely be missed.

    I recall he stood on a platform with George Galloway in 2003 in Hyde Park,at a anti-war demo,but even that couldnt halt the slaughter in Iraq.

    At the moment the Libdems seem to be in freefall,with no young fresh Charles Kennedy types breaking through,and out of the ranks.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Trowbridge

    “Nothing conspiratorial in my comment, Habby.

    Just alluding to the hypocrisy of politicians and the media who helped drive him to drink, and ultimately killing himself.”
    __________________

    I note your use of the word “suspicious” in your original post.

  • Dave Hansell

    Republic of Scotland,

    Cannot disagree but seriously disturbed barely covers it.

    Reading those tweets etc on WoS and Fred’s comments on this site one can only stand in awe of the sheer patheticness of people who use the death of someone like Charles Kennedy to indulge their sick retarded minds in hate filled political point scoring, smears, and abuse.

    Such people besmirch the memory of Charles Kennedy with such puerile behaviour and deserve to be ostracised by decent society.

  • Mary

    Dave My disappointment and disillusionment are great. You are correct.

    ‘It is shameful, but hardly surprising, that University Rector Charles Kennedy should endorse an initiative based on the denial of basic human rights to the Palestinian people. Sadly, this is not Charles Kennedy’s first involvement with a pro-Israeli group committed to displacing Arabs and replacing them with Jewish immigrants; Kennedy was a Patron of the JNF (Jewish National Fund) whose involvement in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine is well-documented. Kennedy supported the JNF in its stated aims of increasing its land-holdings in Israel/Palestine. No JNF land may be sold or leased to an Arab.’

    Mick Napier of the Scottish PSC is a reliable source.

    http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php/31-campaigning/on-campus/500-one-voice-the-screech-of-racism-crime-and-violations-of-international-law

    The JC are claiming him as a ‘great friend of Jews and Israel’
    Marcus Dysch,
    June 2, 2015

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/137204/charles-kennedy-was-great-friend-jews-and-israel

    He hardly went abroad as a sponsored MP but made many after dinner speeches.
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/regmem/?p=10334

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “One would hope that this thread would be troll free. No such thing.”
    ___________________

    As one hoped that you would come back a little less of a sourpuss. No chance.

  • Republicofscotland

    Apologies for going off topic.

    This Saturday the Orange Order will take over George Square for seven hours followed by a march,the O/O a fascist anti-catholic bigoted organisation,who swear allegiance to the Queen,have been given permission for their “Orange Fest” by Michael Matheson,head of Glasgow City Council.

    This bigoted booze up in the heart of the city quickly follows on the heels of the visit from the bigoted Derry Boys from NI two weeks ago.

    And as if this bigoted religious group,hasn’t had enough coverage their main march in Scotland goes ahead in four weeks time.

    God only knows what tourist make of the up to your knees in fenian blood song.

    Time to ban this lot for good.

    http://athousandflowers.net/2015/06/01/orangefest-set-to-take-over-glasgow-this-saturday/

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “‘Decent and kind’, and a patron of the Jewish National Fund”
    __________________

    “Dave” beat you to it this time, Mary ! 🙂

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