Saturday 7 January 2006

Gareth Saunders drew my attention a few moments ago to his latest blog, which talks about the resignation of Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Kennedy “came out” the other day as having had a battle against alcohol, something there have been rumours about for months now and which he has previously publicly denied. It seems he’s come under increasing pressure from colleagues and the press to “go public” about it, and now that he has done his fellow LibDem MPs have forced him to resign the leadership.

As Gareth rightly observes in his blog, Charles Kennedy wasn’t lying – as an alcoholic, he would have been in denial and so genuinely would have believed that he was right in telling the media that had had no drink problem. That’s what alcoholics do.

Charles Kennedy.  Click for the article on BBC NewsFor his parliamentary colleagues to force him out of the job like this, after he has so bravely gone public about his problem, is a disgraceful and ignorant thing to do. Have they no respect for his honesty? It seems they’ve forced him to quit simply because he has admitted that he is a human being with human flaws. What hypocrites. And I don’t normally like calling people “hypocrites” because nobody is perfect and we’re all therefore hypocrites in a small way.

I used to be very political, especially when I was at university, but have become increasingly disillusioned with the whole malarky because of the backstabbing, bitterness, selfishness and often pure evil that pervades the political process. A couple of years ago I read The Political Animal by Jeremy Paxman, which explores the motivation people have to become Members of Parliament. He paints a very dark, cynical picture of the terribly underhand, egotistical and nasty things that people do to advance their own political careers, and the book helped me realise that politics, particularly party politics, is an ugly game often very far removed from the public interest everyone clamours to claim they serve.

Why do politicians have to put so much energy into doing each other down? Why did Charles Kennedy have to resign simply because he admitted to battling a terrible sickness like alcohol? Why can’t politicians let each other be human? Surely that’s what we want from them.

My respect for the LibDems and the political process generally has taken a big dent today.

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