Tag Archives: charles kennedy

Charles Kennedy: Lib Dems must be the voice of rational pro-Europeanism

Here is a flavour of what Charles Kennedy would have brought to this European referendum. Bold, passionate, principled stuff from the 2013 Glasgow conference.

He talked about his worry about opposing the Iraq War, that it could seriously damage the party – but it was the right thing to do and he was glad that we had done it.

What that episode proved to me was that you can take a distinct position which isn’t necessarily popular with everyone but marks you out and people can recognise your sincerity and honesty and make a case that none of the others are prepared to make.

If the voice of rational pro=Europeanism is going to be heard thee is only one place it can come from and it should be us and it will be us.

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A year ago today….

A year ago today, we woke up to the awful news that Charles Kennedy had died suddenly at the age of just 55.

That sense of shock and loss still feels very real.

Last night at his parish church in Caol, where his funeral was held, a stained glass window was unveiled in his memory. The artist who designed it, Pinkie Maclure, shared pictures of it on her Twitter account.

She told the Scotsman more about the design:

I thought it was a lovely idea and it was a great honour to be asked to make it.

“I was told to include the eagle and Ben Nevis, but they left the rest up to me.

I asked a bit more about his family and discovered his father used to play the fiddle in the church so I decided it would be nice to include some music as well as a fiddle.”

The window was made from handblown glass which was made to order in Germany.

It also includes Mr Kennedy’s name, the dates of his birth and death, his initials and bulrushes and violets which are symbols of humility.

It was devastating to lose someone who had been part of our lives for decades.

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Portrait of Charles Kennedy unveiled at National Liberal Club

Last night, Alan Beith unveiled a new portrait of Charles Kennedy at the National Liberal Club in London.

From the Herald:

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Book review: Charles Kennedy: A Tragic Flaw by Greg Hurst

I had a chance to read this recently updated book while on holiday in West Africa. It is a remarkably fine volume. Painstakingly researched and impeccably sourced, it offers a skillfully balanced portrait of a remarkable and inspiring man. As the title suggests, the author does not hold back on the human frailties of its subject but these are, nevertheless, presented as part of a rounded, fair and endearing commentary. I feel this book helps us to inch forward a little further in understanding the rather enigmatic Charles Kennedy, while deconstructing a few myths along the way.

I’ll pick out a few parts of the book which particularly caught my attention:

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Repost: Charles Kennedy’s New Year’s Day reflections from 2014

In 2014, we faced European elections and a Scottish referendum. In 2016, we face Scottish Elections and an EU Referendum. On New Year’s Day, Charles Kennedy sent us his reflections on the year ahead. There is much in here that is relevant today, particularly the bit about being “bold to the point of fearlessness” about portraying our unique political optimism. It brought a tear to my eye reading it. He is so missed.

Locally and nationally 2014 is going to be a decisive one – not just for us Liberal Democrats but for Scotland, the UK and the European Union

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“Whatever jokes he made about himself, he was nobody’s fool”

 

Ian Hislop remembered Charles Kennedy in The Observer yesterday.  He writes:

think Charles would have laughed. David Cameron was one of the last to arrive at his memorial service and walked down the aisle looking for a seat. The only one available was in a pew next to Nick Clegg. “Awkward,” said someone sitting next to me as the prime minister greeted his former coalition partner warmly and sat down.

Politics is a funny business in both senses of the word – bizarre and comic – and Charles Kennedy always had a keen sense of this. It was why the public warmed to him so strongly because he realised that the world that engaged him so passionately could strike ordinary people as strange or ridiculous. Acknowledging this was a way to bridge the gap and he was always very good on Have I Got News for You, irreverently answering questions using exaggerated political cliches or avoiding them entirely using absurd evasive euphemisms.

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Jim Wallace’s inaugural Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture: Charles’ legacy should be a call to refresh our radicalism

Five days before what would have been Charles Kennedy’s 56th birthday, Jim Wallace, who entered the Commons on the same day as Charles in 1983, delivered the inaugural Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture in Fort William. Seeing Charles Kennedy and Memorial in the same sentence still freaks me out slightly. It feels very wrong.

Jim has very kindly provided us with a copy of his lecture so that those of us who couldn’t make it up to Fort William can hear what he had to say. His subject was Charles, the legacy he left of internationalism and an example of always conducting his politics with respect and how his values were shaped by his highland background. He talks about the challenges we now face as a party and how we can learn from Charles as we deal with the challenges we face.

Here is the lecture in full. It’s long, over 5000 words, but, do you know what, every single one is worth reading. Go make yourself nice cup of tea, put your feet up and enjoy.

In keeping with many public lectures in the Highlands, albeit of a somewhat different nature, I start with a text: from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 51, verse 1 –

Look unto the rock from which you are hewn.

It is an enormous privilege to have been asked this evening to deliver the inaugural Charles Kennedy memorial lecture; to speak about one of my closest friends in politics, Charles, and how his politics were shaped by his roots in this Highland community, and the Highland Liberal tradition.

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