Charles Kennedy was the reason I rejoined party political activisim. But unlike him, he kept to his promise when he died to leave feet first with his membership card in his pocket. Alcoholism may have forced others to ensure he stood down as leader, but Nick Clegg was standing on Kennedy’s shoulders (having lost a few MPs) when he went into coalition government with the Conservatives in 2010.
Charles Kennedy was the social liberal I considered myself to be. Against ID cards, tuition fees and unilateral military action without UN Security Council go ahead (my proviso against that: when another country’s sovereignty or population was not threatened). The second Iraq war did influence my timing, as the threat to civil liberties and religious freedom did following 9/11. It was a no brainer to join.
In the same way it was to leave, two years into the coalition. Nick Clegg’s sober leadership was proving disastrous when it came to social welfare polices, as I saw services cut for the disabled and myself penalised, for caring for my brother so he did not go into care, with income support no longer tied to inflation. Clegg’s decision to debate Nigel Farage on the EU was a political miscalculation as the 2015 poll showed. A party that said no to tuition fees in 2010, now in 2015 was against reducing the very increase they supported in government.
There is at the moment no credible opposition to the Conservatives on liberal principles unless Tory MPs rebel.
I can hope the Liberal Democrats and Labour party change under a new leader to fill the void.
I just do not see anyone with the principled populist touch that Charles Kennedy had on the left. That makes me grieve even more than I do for the man.