Lib Dem FightBack

Charles Kennedy (1959-2015) Our Lost Leader

Charlie Kennedy was our leader. A decent, well-loved statesman who was nearly always right on the political issues of the day.  He was the most successful leader of the Lib Dems seeing 62 MPs elected in 2005.

For a generation of us, Liberal Democrats who campaigned for the Liberal-SDP Alliance he was the great hope of that Alliance who was elected in a shock election win in 1983 in his twenties and someone who took Social Democrats into the new Social and Liberal Democrats.  When he became leader in 1999 he then inspired another political generation with his principled opposition to the Iraq War in 2003. Charles led a centre-Left Liberal Democratic Party which put people first. He Opposed the Labour plan for imposing Student Debt and Tuition Fees on University Students. It is the greatest tragedy that in his battle with alcohol that our great party could not have found a way for him to have stood down and to have returned after a prolonged sabbatical.  His political fall was the start of a political change in the party which so many of us regret. Many of us wish that he could have been our leader in 2010 when the party faced it’s greatest test in coalition.  History has proved his judgement on the coalition to have been correct as with so many things.  

We must now vow to keep our party as a party which he would want to see, one with a centre-left heart that looks after people, but also one which embraces popular and principled campaigns such as opposition to the Iraq War. Even in the face of establishment taunts. We must get the Chilcott report published to find out the truth about Iraq. We must reconnect with those people who loved Charlie and said so today in 100,000 tweets of condolence from grieving people .Many of whom hated our role in coalition. 

He was later determined that Scotland should stay in a Federal Union and that Britain should stay in a Federal Europe. He never held a grudge and forgave his detractors. Charlie was loved by the public, not just in the party but by the voters as a genuine and principled politician.  He had judgement and courage and wit. None of us will ever forget what we were doing the day our Kennedy died, so we raise a toast to our King over the water, sadly taken too young. Our hearts go out to his family.