Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): Champagne Charlie

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Champagne Charlie

Well, Thursday night I thought I'd come up with an amusing little story about Dave Cameron and I'd rather hoped it'd run for a bit. Sadly one day is a long time in politics, and by the evening I found myself in one of the most surreal political experiences I've ever had. I still can barely believe Charles Kennedy's announcement about his alcoholism and desire for a confidence vote actually took place.

Firstly, I should say, as is probably obligatory, how sorry I feel for him. This is a true personal tragedy, and it is testament to his wife that his family has stayed strong beside him. Alcoholism is a terrible blight and I really do hope he has beaten the bottle for his sake, for his wife and his wider family, and for his little son.

Secondly, it is such a tragedy I'm not going to gloat or glory in the Liberals' misfortune.

On a political note, however, this really has driven a stake close to the heart of the party and has been appallingly handled. Great debate has been taking place between Oxford bloggers Ken and Richard over at Militant Moderate. Respect though I have for Richard, I can't bring myself to endorse much of what he says at all.

Kennedy only came clean when he knew he had to because he was being pressured by ITN. He had deceived the country and, apparently, many of his most senior colleagues repeatedly. It was Kennedy himself who said, during the election, that Mr Blair had "integrity issues". Sadly it is now Mr Kennedy himself who has such issues. Remember, he didn't say he wasn't going to talk about such issues and that they weren't important or relevant. He denied the truth. His mistake wasn't becoming addicted to alcohol - people sympathise with that - it was lying and failing to do his job as a result of it. What if he'd won the election?

As to the future, my view is that Kennedy may just cling on. Many in the grassroots will have great sympathy with his unfortunate position and will, I suspect back him over it. Tragically, however, I don't see any victory will be more than a hollow one. He has lost the support of his Parliamentary Party. This man knows the consequences of that. Yes, CK has the luxury of leap-frogging his mutinous MPs, but the writing is on the wall. As with Blair, it is now a matter not of if, but when. The longer it goes on, the more harm it inflicts on the fledgling party.


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