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)

    “Apologies for going off topic.”

    Didn’t take you long did it, RepublicofNonsense.

    Not even half way down the first page.

  • Republicofscotland

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

    David Hansell,I agree with most of your comment,but rather than ostracise these constantly angry Britnats,we need to educate and embrace them.

    Of course some folk will never ever stop digging whilst their in a hole, but others can be persuaded to put down the shovel.

    A 60% threashold is required to obtain independence for Scotland,we must keep plugging away,convincing folk independence is the right direction for a future Scotland….and it is.

  • giyane

    A great man of integrity has died and his admirers gather to pay respect.

    At this point the troll decides to have a pop at the commenters who shared the great man’s political views, about the Union and Iraq

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

    Why not just state outright that the great man objected to a policy which was favoured by zionists? Shut up shill shut up!

  • Republicofscotland

    Things just keep going from bad to worse for Charles Kennedy’s Libdem colleague Alistair Carmichael.

    The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner has launched a formal inquiry into the conduct of former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael.

    The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner will investigate Mr Carmichael’s actions under three sections of the MPs’ code of conduct. These are:
    Section 10: Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.

    Section 14: Information which members receive in confidence in the course of their parliamentary duties should be used only in connection with those duties. Such information must never be used for the purpose of financial gain.

    Section 16: Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its members generally.

  • Ishmael

    I did not know him at all…Like most…

    I don’t mean to be offensive, and i’m probably being hypocritical looking back. But is it not strange to go on like this publicly. The problems you have is shared by most others on this blog and beyond, an overriding sense of there own importance over others. Everyone should shine sometime but some imagine it’s there constantly endowed privilege.

    I’d never considered that I have or want as many friends as many seem to think they have. And ones that have died, I never really speak about or expect many others to care about.

    I was catching up on this blog recently and it strikes me you have no power, get behind some ordinary people in their struggles why don’t you. Because they, we, have the power to chance all the things you bitch and moan about. But you don’t, you try and get “into power” or just pontificate over someone else’s investigative or other work. … When it’s the people that have always had the power. No, you want to stand apart. Because that’s where you stand. It’s just a fact.

    Most don’t care or listen or regard that this blog even exists. Untouched.

    The problem is also the indoctrination into this strange strange cult of the establishment. Even bad state schooling does not birth such odd behaviour. But including state school indoctrination I lament so few seem to have retained an independent mind from an early age. And seen power and the establishment for what it is. My guess is you don’t know freedom, so have no good perspective.

    But those who do see, those who do and wouldn’t have joined at 16 let alone after some life experience aren’t important are they….And some may argue that it’s all about serving, But get this. I DON’T WANT people thinking i’m more important. To regard me, or pretend to regard us as what were clearly are not. Being honest, I don’t believe anyone who says this, including me.

    It’s a lie Craig, a big Lie…You can ‘friend’ all the people you like. And think of them how you like. The fact is they are hugely self serving in the most crooked ego centred material and spiritual way. How about reality over what’s said? “what they do”. Just look at when they have, what you have, and what we have.

    Jet around from country to county, public or privileged money at your fingertips. It’s a power trip. Serving all these people, come on……. True acts of kindness are for yourself don’t you think? At least what you can’t not do…And it’s something iv rarely seen in what is generally considerd to be just good people underneath. Yes, but there is mountains of dirt that covers any natural goodness. It can never clean off because it’s bound up in the very notion of their importance. The constant justifications. Ongoing complicity. And no wonder, being subject to the rule’s one makes for others is just not cricket is it.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    So Mary starts off by sharing the goods thoughts about Charles Kennedy and then along comes “Dave” to tell her that Kennedy was a Friend of Israel or something similar and – lo and behold – Mary does a swift reverse ferret and Kennedy’s not a good guy any more.

    How can anyone take people like her seriously?

  • Ishmael

    Mary your back. Alive. Good.

    There was strange ruminations. I try not to follow peoples personal stuff so didn’t pay much attention.

    Back to work.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Giyane obviously didn’t read my post properly or perhaps he is slow on the uptake.

    So, just for him, I’ll repost it.


    “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.”

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Mary’s only criterion for judging anyone is that person’s view on Israel.

    That is a very blinkered and prejudiced way of judging anyone.

    I should say it is Nazi-like in outlook.

    After all, the Nazis judged their German co-citizens on whether they were Jews or not.

  • Dreoilin

    In Mary’s world, there are good people, and there are friends of Israel.

  • fred

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

    I don’t have a hate squad.

    Salmond’s comments about Charles Kennedy so soon after his death were sick.

    Your personal attacks on me trying to associate me with comments on social media are examples of the Nationalist Nazi system of intimidation.

  • Dreoilin

    If Mary really had to post her

    “Following the last but one Israeli attack on the Palestinians, here is Charles defending …”

    she could have waited until the poor man was buried. At least.

  • Dreoilin

    “Salmond’s comments about Charles Kennedy so soon after his death were sick.”

    In which case, so were Mary’s.

  • giyane

    Habbabkuk’s only criterion for judging anyone is that person’s view on Israel.

    Mods please delete his appalling comments.

  • Mary

    I said I was disillusioned and disappointed and I was.

    The sanctimonious comments of the troll and the troll’s moll are rather comical.

  • fred

    “In which case, so were Mary’s.”

    I couldn’t comment, I have a policy of not making personal comments about other posters who have not first made personal comments about me.

  • Macky

    Dreoilin; “In Mary’s world, there are good people, and there are friends of Israel.”

    From a person who thinks of herself as a pro-Palestiniain supporter !

    Reminds me of the time this “pro-Palestiniain supporter” complained that the I/P issue was being discussed too much on this Blog !

    What have the poor Palestinians done to deserve such “supporters”, they would actually be much better off without them !

  • giyane

    Tony Blair engaged this country on the sole agenda of the us NEO-CONS. We have just witnessed the disappearance of a self-confessed zionist labour leader who criticised Israel for its brutal violence. Jewish people rejected him in the May election.

    Charles Kennedy stood agaist Tony Blair’s engaging this country into the flight path of the Zionist Neo-cons. Tony Blair took that path through the destruction of Afghanistan, through the destruction of Iraq which is still ongoing and through the latter phase of his career as a failed middle-east diplomat who always took Israel’s side against the Palestinians.

    If Charles Kennedy, as part of a genuine effort to bring about peace, sticks up for Israel’s right to defend itself, that does not put him even remotely on the same flight path as the neo-cons. It may have been mis-guided for Charles Kennedy to believe that Israelis are capable of listening to conciliation or reason, but Blair is on the exact same flight path as the Israeli criminals.

  • Ishmael

    This blog is getting a joke. Anyone who’s not abdication there power to those below, creating a more democratic legacy replacing that privilege is not to be taken very seriously. And this blog is not changing. It has no structure that will live on, feed something else.

    Seem’s mostly, in fact, Habbabkuk’s merry go round.

    Make it into something better for everyone please. News blog. Petition gathering, get a journalist, structurally link to some other human rights thing. Or it’s what ? A freedom of speech blog? Fine I guess. Though I often say what I want elsewhere…

    The only remotely worthy stuff I can see is the ongoing following of news links. But who does it reach and how and why. Whatever, just thought’s. *sigh*

  • giyane


    you prat!

    Can I claim my f… o.. and d.. you …retard c… please. Gonk!

  • Juteman

    “I couldn’t comment, I have a policy of not making personal comments about other posters who have not first made personal comments about me.”

    Hypocrite. You call half the people of Scotland blackshirts, Nazis and worse. Their crime in your eyes? They want to run their own country.

    Fuck off you bitter, racist old twat.

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