134 Views

Charles Kennedy, the left-wing Lib Dem: The Badger pays tribute to ‘a brilliant politician’

The BadgerHarry Howard believes Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader who died yesterday, was a ‘brilliant politician and decent human being’. 

Tributes were pouring in throughout yesterday after the sudden death of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, aged just 55.

Kennedy was first elected as an MP at the age of just 23, representing his home constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands.

Notwithstanding the hugely impressive feat of becoming an MP at such a tender age, Kennedy was an extremely talented politician.

He led his party to their greatest ever result at the 2005 general election, gaining 62 seats and nearly six million votes. This feat is all the more impressive if it is compared to the party’s 2010 result, where they actually lost five seats, despite their leader Nick Clegg riding a wave of unprecedented popularity in the run-up to the election.

Amongst Kennedy’s best features was his principled leadership of the Liberal Democrats. He distanced himself and his party from Tony Blair’s New Labour despite previous leader Paddy Ashdown’s close relationship with Blair.

Perhaps most striking was when he refused to support the commencement of the Iraq War, arguing that evidence to go to war was sparse at best. He was, as we now know, proven right; but despite the situation in the Middle East getting decidedly worse in later years, he showed his good nature by refusing to play the dirty game of saying “I told you so”.

The Iraq saga wasn’t the only time that Kennedy refused to bend in the face of the political consensus. He spoke in favour of the legalisation of cannabis and put his words into action by pledging to look seriously at the issue if he ended up in government.

He was also one of only a handful of Liberal Democrats to refuse to support the 2010 coalition with the Conservatives, seeing it as driving a “coach and horses through the long-nurtured re-alignment of the centre-left.” His opposition was immediately made clear when he objected to the raising of tuition fees, leading a number of rebels to vote against the policy.

Indeed, for a party that had done so well positioning itself to the left of New Labour, Kennedy was right to spot the damage that a coalition with the Tories would do to his party, and it was unfortunate that he himself was a victim of this damage.

Perhaps most presciently, Kennedy spoke out in favour of electoral reform in 2011, referring to the “grotesque distortions” of first-past-the-post. His point was highlighted aptly by UKIP getting four million votes but only one seat in last month’s election.

More evidence of Kennedy’s talent was made clear by a number of appearances on the BBC’s satirical news programme Have I Got News for You in which he was shown to be easily capable of holding his own amidst humorous attacks from the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Ian Hislop.

Yet Kennedy stood out most for his humanity, with his faults as obvious as his virtues. He fought a career-long battle with alcoholism, and despite repeated refusals to admit to having a problem, it was this issue that forced him out as party leader in 2005.

His alcohol troubles even provoked a vicious joke from Ian Duncan Smith during the latter’s pathetic tenure as leader of the Conservative Party. Speaking on the issue of tax rises at his party’s conference just days before resigning, Duncan Smith said, “Charlie Kennedy wants to raise them [taxes] even further, except of course on wines and spirits”.

This low blow did little to save one of the worst party leaders in British political history, and Kennedy – with the phenomenal 2005 election result ahead of him – was to last another two years.

The Scot was one of the many inevitable Liberal Democrat victims of both the rise of the SNP and his party’s decision to stick to the Coalition, as he lost his seat at last month’s election. It was certainly sad given his principled and prescient stance on many issues that have since become part of popular opinion.

Certainly, it was the tributes that came in from all sides of politics after news of his death emerged that made clear his popularity and decency. Perhaps most touching was the contribution from New Labour veteran Alastair Campbell who said that Kennedy “was a terrific communicator and a fine orator. He spoke fluent human, because he had humanity in every vein and every cell.”

Harry Howard

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
688 views1
Campus News
688 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
149 views
Arts
149 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
176 views
Arts
176 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
165 views
Arts
165 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
200 views
Arts
200 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
208 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
204 views
Arts
204 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
197 views
Arts
197 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
316 views
Campus News
316 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
157 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
419 views
Arts
419 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
195 views
Arts
195 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
292 views
Artist Focus
292 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
201 views
Interview
201 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
278 views
Arts
278 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
313 views
Arts
313 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
356 views
Arts
356 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
255 views
Artist Focus
255 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
266 views
Books
266 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
343 views
Science
343 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
326 views
News
326 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…