Tag Archives: charles kennedy

LIbLink: Alistair Carmichael: Parliament can not duck responsibility for UK joining Iraq war

As we have a 13-years-too-late mea culpa (but a big boy made him do it) from John Prescott, Alistair Carmichael writes for the Times about Parliament’s role in supporting the Iraq War.

He makes the very valid point that Parliament could have given Blair a much harder time, asking for more evidence, scrutinising every claim made, but they ducked it.

Too many of those who now say, “Of course, if I had known then what I know now …” must be challenged. For the most part they could not have known then what they know now because they were not prepared to ask the questions or to demand the evidence.

Attention focuses on the actions of the prime minister and government of the day and rightly so — they failed to do what they should have done. That is, however, equally true of the Conservative opposition. Where they should have questioned, they acquiesced. Where they should have demanded evidence, they accepted assertions. As a party of the establishment, they could not allow themselves to believe that the various arms of government would be embarking on a war without a sound basis in law.

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One big thing to remember about the Iraq War as the Chilcot Report is published

The long awaited Chilcot Report will be published in a few minutes.

On the eve of publication, Twitter amused itself by guessing #chilcotslastline

My favourite came from Lib Dem Josh Dixon.

I suspect that in the wall to wall coverage today, one big thing will be missing. There will be comparatively few mentions of the one UK party that opposed the war from the start. That would be the Liberal Democrats.

Taking an anti-war stance is a courageous thing. Charles Kennedy showed enormous courage and resolve in doing so. He was roundly abused, accused of not supporting our troops, called every traitorous name under the sun.

In fact, the Sun, as you would expect, heaped ire on him as this headline shows:

It was taking a huge risk, too. He suspected, but didn’t know, that they weren’t going to find weapons of mass destruction capable of reaching the UK in 45 minutes.

I felt huge pride in the party at the time.

Watch his speech to the anti-war rally on 15 February here.

 

Also worth watching is his full speech to the House of Commons during the debate on the Iraq War on 18 March 2003. I also include the text from Hansard. Note the the extent of the aggression from Conservatives, including one Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Fabricant, that he faced.

Note the manner of Charles’ intervention. He sticks to the facts and at the end acknowledges the Prime Minister’s sincerity even though he does not agree with him. In a highly charged atmosphere he kept his cool and made his case.

It goes without saying how much we miss him.

Following the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle), I acknowledge with thanks, through him, to the right hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) and to all those concerned in all parties in this House, that an honest option has been discussed and agreed in a cross-party way. In the previous debate, the right hon. Gentleman made a powerful contribution to that cross-party basis, which needs to be heard and discussed rationally today.

Although it is sad that we have lost a very good Leader of the House, there is no doubt, having listened to his brilliant resignation statement in the House yesterday evening, that those of us who are supporting the cross-party amendment in the Lobby tonight, as I and my right hon. and hon. Friends will do, have gained a powerful additional advocate for the case that we are sincerely making.

Given the events of the past few days and the last few hours, there has been much understandable comment about the drama of the situation. In the next few hours and days, however, we are liable to see even more drama and trauma when what appears to be the inevitable military conflict against Iraq begins. Let us hope, as we all agree, that the conflict can be conducted as swiftly as possible, with the minimum of casualties: first and foremost, clearly, among our forces, but equally among innocent Iraqi civilians, with whom none of us has ever had any quarrel and who have suffered terribly under the despicable regime of Saddam Hussein.

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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.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

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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