Kennedy a talented politician with his personal problems

Morning View
Morning View

Charles Kennedy’s death was met with heartfelt sadness at Westminster.

He was a popular MP, who had been elected to the House of Commons by surprise in 1983 at the astonishingly youthful age of 23.

But he was an unusually mature and smart young man, who was comfortable both in the Highlands, with London elites and on TV.

As an accomplished public performer, his election as leader of the Liberal Democrats was logical.

Mr Kennedy led his party to its biggest success in the 2005 election but by then his personal problems were becoming increasingly apparent.

He had to deny his drink problem in that campaign, but later the truth of that problem ended his leadership.

Alcohol addiction is not unusual so there was sympathy when his career was cut short in that way.

Things did not improve. His appearance on Question Time in March while under the influence was well publicised but in fact he held things together well on that occasion, given that he had been drinking – a sorry reflection on his experience in handling drink.

Charles Kennedy was on the left of his party and reportedly unhappy with it going into coalition with the Tories, but loyally defended the decision.

It was a decision that destroyed the party, but it was the right thing to do.

Even many supporters of our electoral system are uneasy that the Lib Dems were so under-represented by the first past the post.

Losing his seat happened shortly before Charles Kennedy’s death but there were clearly other problems in his life.

In 32 years, he was an unusually talented and liked politician, who served the UK with distinction.