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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  • Mary

    Why don’t you add a comment Villager, of course omitting your foul mouthed ad hominems. You are a big phony.

  • Dreoilin

    “Why don’t you add a comment Villager, of course omitting your foul mouthed ad hominems. You are a big phony.”

    What are you gasbagging about now? YOU’RE the one who introduced the word “moll”, thereby calling me a whore. And you nearly had a conniption when Villager called you a bitch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’re a hypocrite. And a very silly woman.


  • Dreoilin

    “the world is bigger than this blog, you know.”

    Absolutely, Tech. And I’ll be travelling some of it today, to get some fresh air after spending too long here yesterday.

  • Anon1

    Yours is the errant nonsense, Craig.

    The alcoholic cannot stop drinking once they have had their first drink, which is why total abstinence is the only path to recovery. If you can find me an alcoholic who managed to successfully moderate his drinking so that he was able to fit back into a ‘normal’ pattern of drinking behaviour than that is a very rare thing indeed. I certainly have never heard of one. A friend of mine who for 15 years was a therapist at a recovery clinic never knew of a single case.

    As for it not being a physical addiction, the alcoholic risks death or permanent cognitive impairment by stopping drinking without the administering of either decreasing amounts of alcohol or benzodiazepines. I have seen someone shake so much after abstaining from alcohol for just one day that that he couldn’t hold a pen to sign a cheque. It is the only regularly misused substance that one can die from by ceasing to use it. Even heroin will not kill you if you go cold turkey, extremely unpleasant though that would be. If that is not a physical addiction then I don’t know what is.

    I am afraid that because you are not an alcoholic and apparently have no long-term experience of alcoholism, you are viewing it through the prism of your own experience with drink. That is, because you have at times been a heavy drinker (not an alcoholic), you feel you have some insight to offer on the subject. But there is a world of difference between someone who enjoys a drink, even to excess on occasion, and an alcoholic, whose entire life is dominated by alcohol. Only those who have been alcoholics are able to understand and help other alcoholics to recover, which is why AA works, and why before AA people just died without any hope of recovery. It is also why any AA meeting would fall about with laughter were your ill-informed rubbish to be read out. It frankly amazes me that in a society as saturated with drink as ours, there remains such appalling ignorance about alcoholism as that you have displayed here.

    Therefore I would advise you to keep whatever follow-up post you had in mind firmly to yourself. It might persuade a recovering alcoholic that he can have a drink again. Just the one. And that can be fatal.


  • Conga eel

    Krishnamurty was moved to make a last and final lecture at Pune in disgust after levanthal shock jocks “then I witnessed both towers collapse, first, and then the second, mostly due to structural failure cause the fire was just to intense” bad acting. The poor nu yowker has “disappeared” since.

  • Villager

    “you’re a hypocrite. And a very silly woman.”

    In addition, she is a very divided, fragmented woman. How can such an inwardly divided person contribute to the wholeness of Peace (outwardly) in the World. Serious question.

    She is so filled with absolute hate for Israel and the Jews, that say what she will, she could never be a part of Israel-Palestine peace. No matter how small.

    What is completely wasted and phony is Mary trying to show herself on the ‘right’ side of things. Without the slightest sense of self-awareness.

    I have, in the past, and recently tried to suggest to Mary that she stop hollering “troll” here; let the Mod do his job. But, no, instead she comes back fighting fit and immediately starts picking fights here and sowing divisiveness. I’m glad to take the wind out of the REAL Moll’s sails.

  • Dreoilin

    “She is so filled with absolute hate for Israel and the Jews, that say what she will, she could never be a part of Israel-Palestine peace. No matter how small.”

    Very true. I confess I hadn’t thought of it that way before. But in the case of Mary, the Israelis would be 100% correct in claiming that they had “no partner for peace” (a claim I have always rejected in relation to the Palestinians themselves.)

    And Macky waffles on about me being a Pal supporter who does more harm than good? She should take a closer look at her “idol”.

    Ok, me gone

  • Conga eel

    Dreolin can help the Palestinians no end by solving this countdown conundrum 6-4+1.5=6m ?! There is an original plaque (on which all “proofs” relied) and a Russian replacement in 1990.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I am delighted to see my words have had an effect, cat bainnean, but how about we drop the nonsense about being a wren, now?


  • fred

    “Massie will say anything for the price of a pint.”

    The message looks valid as how much you attack the messenger.

  • Conga eel

    Re Bruce lee and Jiddu Krishnamurti posting by village fool godbole.

    20 seconds of hot curry cultist jidu half-truths (out of 8.20) and we have a cohort devil villager (and the video maker) making out its a Krishnamurty-Bruce Lee video !

    The evil falsehood and deception of Villager – a cultist devils disciple, no further proof required. Mary just ignore the trash curry.

  • Mary

    Session: 2015-16
    Date tabled: 02.06.2015
    Primary sponsor: Corbyn, Jeremy
    Sponsors: Lucas, Caroline
    Oswald, Kirsten
    Paterson, Steven
    Williams, Hywel
    Durkan, Mark

    That this House notes that a decision on the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapon submarines is due in the life of this Parliament; further notes that the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) will precede that decision; recognises that international circumstances have significantly changed from those in which the current Trident missile system was conceived, designed and constructed; further recognises the Government’s decision to require departments to reduce expenditure; and therefore calls on the Government to ensure that the SDSR sets out how it has considered the delivery of UK defence and security capability without nuclear weapons, including threat assessments, estimated costs and all non-nuclear options, as a basis for public debate ahead of the replacement decision.

  • Mary

    The latest available report of Israeli atrocities. The banality of their evil.

    IOP newsletter headlines for 31 May 2015:

    Gaza farmers under Israeli Army fire in 3 districts

    Israeli Army occupies West Bank village home

    Israeli Army orders destruction of West Bank home

    Israeli Occupation forces destroy greenhouses and order destruction of village well

    Night peace disruption and/or home invasions in 2 refugee camps
    and 8 towns and villages

    3 attacks (3 Israeli ceasefire violations)

    26 raids including home invasions

    1 beaten – 1 injured – 3 abductions

    5 acts of agricultural/economic sabotage

    13 taken prisoner – 9 detained – 97 restrictions of movement

    Read more:

    Gaza Ceasefire Summary for April 2015

  • Villager


    ‘Phony’ (sic — American), I have just proven above is you. Palestinian peace and Israeli peace are one. Say what you will, your hate gets in the way. That division is firmly entrenched in your psyche; in who you are.

    ‘Ceaseless’ better characterises you Mary. Try some reflection and meditation. They say it is therapeutic; scientifically proven.

    Stay well!

  • Juteman

    I see Massie has tweeted that his article was OTT.
    Hopefully his apology will receive the same publicity as his original article.

  • Mary

    Thought this game would appeal to the adolescent ‘Villager’. I am not replying any further, but like Dreoilin who has swept off as per usual, he will probably have to have the last word.

    Villager – Minecraft Wiki
    6 days ago – Villagers can breed, spawning baby villagers. After exactly 20 minutes, the baby villager will grow up to an adult …..
    LOLZ 😉

  • Villager

    Thank you Mary for your kind consideration. But, as usual, you fall flat on your face, and show your lack of comprehension from the terribly narrow mind you have.

    There are enough villagers on this globe. Look beyond Palestine and see how most of humanity lives. Abject poverty, hunger, no clean drinking water, rampant disease, infant mortality, conflict, violence, unstable shelter, corruption, cheats, thugs, so on and so forth.

    And I am on their side.

  • Dreoilin


    Sure you are, liar

    How about we drop the nonsense about being a komodo dragon, now?
    or even “Ba’al the exalted”?


    “I am not replying any further”

    Famous last words, Mary. In your case, ceaseless.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Villager (10h53)

    A very insightful post, for which all (inclding its subject)should owe you thanks.
    And a thank you also for the literate and temperate phrasing – a welcome contrast to most of the barely-readable guff we get on here.

    Keep up the good work, you always have something good to contribute.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Congratulations also to Anon1 for his post on alcoholism.

    If the Eminences and Useful Idiots were sincere when they say they want this blog to be a forum for serious argument and serious discussion, the that is the osrt of post they themselves should be producing.

    Well-argued, based on facts, temperate. And sa a bonus, some people will have learned something they didn’t know.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    We could refer to him as “Zeus” – a most exalted personage and the name has the right silly sound when you say it aloud, hasn’t it?

  • Dreoilin

    I’ll be calling him a lot worse than Zeus, if he doesn’t stop poking. I don’t know what his objection to Dreoilin is. It’s the Irish word for a wren. It’s a handle, a pseudonym, call it whatever. But he’s got something against it now?
    Resentful, obviously. I thought he could let the argument about IP addresses go, but he can’t.

    Call him Zeus if you wish. I think it’s too good for him.

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