July 12, 2005

Kennedy assassinated

Here's a nice little job on Charles Kennedy by a former Deputy Chair of the Lib Dems.
I first realised Mr Kennedy's unfitness to lead when the party had to campaign against the illegal Iraqi invasion, despite Mr Kennedy rather than because of him. For months prior to the invasion, we urged him to lead the opposition to the war but he refused, stating he was not against the war but in favour of the UN.
Anything else?
When the party voted to end the corrupt practice of Liberal Democrat peers working as political lobbyists, he threatened legal action against those who complained about the continuing practice. Indeed, Lord Clement-Jones, who was employed as a political lobbyist by the notorious Cayman Islands tax haven, has just been made the party's federal treasurer, and Lord Razzall was put in charge of the general election campaign which called for fairer taxation, despite his being a director of a company in the Channel Islands tax haven.

But where would you say he stands on the political spectrum?
Whilst unbelievably downplaying the war in the run-up to the general election, his lieutenants, instead of building on the successful centre-left progressive coalition that had won so many Tory seats, embarked on a policy of "sounding more Tory", which ended in total failure at the election. This lurch to the right was heralded by the publication of the infamous Orange Book, which, despite Kennedy's written introduction, was derided across the party as a right-wing Blairite manifesto. Nevertheless, Kennedy placed the core Orange Book authors Vince Cable, David Laws and Mark Oaten into key positions of power. Britain does not need or deserve three centre-right parties.
What about the vision thing?
Finally, there is Mr Kennedy's unwillingness to take a clear position on most issues. Indeed, this was claimed to be an advantage by his aides, who said it meant voters from both sides of issues ended up supporting him. This is political nonsense. Constructive politics is about advocating policies that will benefit the wider good. A party has to campaign on its policies if it is to persuade the public of their value. The party has a range of crucial progressive liberal policies such as a renewable energy economy, creating a fairer democracy, an effective drugs strategy and so on, yet the leadership refuses to encourage grassroots campaigning on these.
But he won votes, surely?
After the general election, Kennedy distracted attention from his failure to make a major breakthrough by launching a profoundly dishonest attack on his own party activists who had just worked their hearts out. He blamed them for foisting unpopular policies on the party which had been attacked by our opponents in the election. The real truth was that these policies were included in papers submitted by Mr Kennedy's own Federal Policy Committee.
And the future?
Unless the leadership passes to people with political integrity and campaigning talent, the Liberal Democrat Party will miss the enormous opportunity that it currently has to lead Britain to a better future.
So here lies Charles Kennedy.


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