Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy taking off or putting on a jacket
“I’ll get my coat!” (Photograph from Dale Rhodes Tailoring.)

Since beginning writing this post the Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Anyway, this is what I wrote:

I’m really feeling for the Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP just now, after he admitted to be battling with alcohol addiction:

Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy has called a leadership contest after admitting he has been battling with a drink problem.

He said he was determined to carry on as leader but wanted to give party members the “final say”.

Mr Kennedy – who has previously denied a drink problem – admitted seeking “professional help” to beat the bottle.

(Source: BBC News, Thursday 5 January 2006)

“Giving party members the final say”, of course, means a leadership election. And how are his fellow LibDem MPs supporting him? Well, they’re clearly not. This is from today’s BBC News website:

More than half of his 62 MPs told a BBC Newsnight survey that Mr Kennedy should go or said his position was untenable.

This was from an article that opened with:

Charles Kennedy has rejected claims he is in denial over his political career, after senior MPs urged him to quit.

Interesting use of the word ‘denial’ there. There was such a fuss made about his lying to people about his drink problem. Well, of course he was! Don’t they realise that he was lying to himself in the first place? That’s a key part of the whole denial aspect of substance addiction. Jane, who is a trained alcohol counsellor, pointed that out as soon as it was mentioned on the news. It wasn’t that he was deliberately misleading people, it was that he genuinely didn’t believe that had one. That’s the nature of the condition.

That he was finally open about it and admitted it publically is to be applauded. It should be seen as an incredibly brave move on his part, at a deeply personal level, that he recognised it and admitted it to himself and that he sought help. If he really hasn’t drunk any alcohol for two months that is surely to be praised.

And what an incredible example it could have been to the thousands of people here in the UK who are also struggling with alcohol problems. And the UK, I think I’m right in saying, has one of the highest rates of alcohol problems in Europe. And not just among adults either, but among children, and teenagers, and young adults too. And at every social strata too. I can’t help but think that how this has been handled isn’t healthy. I wonder how vulnerable other members of parliament now feel who also have a hidden drink problem.

That Charles Kennedy has been publically clawed apart in both the political and media spheres because of it — and now forced to resign — is, in my opinion, utterly disgusting. I hate the hypocrisy in politics, and in the media for that matter. You just have to read through any single issue of Private Eye to have an inkling of the double-standards and the deeds carried out through greed, vanity and ambition that go on behind the scenes.

I have long admired Charles Kennedy — I voted for him while I was living in Inverness, before the parliamentary boundaries had been moved. I applauded that the LibDems secured so many more seats this past General Election. I just hope that the LibDems haven’t shot themselves in the foot (or head!) on this one, because I do think that they could be the real alternative party.

We should pray for Charles Kennedy, for his family, for any others who are struggling with substance addictions, and for British politics in general.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

4 thoughts on “Charles Kennedy”

  1. Well said about Charles Kennedy. Denial is a standard symptom of alcoholism. (And before you ask, no, I’m not an alcoholic….).

    And well said about the double standards of the media. Who rules Britain? Hypocrisy does, anyway. There is, sadly, no chance of any political leader being praised for admitting any form of weakness.

    As I said to Christine: it’s a good job I didn’t go into politics because you wouldn’t have liked living in Downing Street. (Her reply withheld).

  2. Thanks Bernard, I’ve had a few emails and IM messages from people saying much the same. Such as

    Liked your piece on Charles Kennedy very much.

    I had a really good conversation with an old friend from my London days on the telephone today, and we too were lamenting the seeming inability of anyone in a prominent political position from admitting to any kind of weakness.

    I’m glad that God uses our weaknesses. Reminds me of this passage from Philippians 2:

    If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care– then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.

    Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human.

    It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death–and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.

    Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth–even those long ago dead and buried–will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

    (Philippians 2:1-11, The Message translation)

  3. Hi there – you are so right about Charles Kennedy. I really feel for him right now and all the other alcaholics who will now feel they might have to hide their real selves for fear of losing their jobs. He has sought help and so far as I can tell is doing what he can to help himself. The libdems are totally out of order to give him the vote of no confidence. It is a sad day for politics.

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