Remembering Charles Kennedy

A remarkable political talent, Charles Kennedy, has passed away suddenly at the age of 55. He led the UK Liberal Democrats to their greatest heights. Because Nick Clegg did well in the television debates in the 2010 election and ultimately became Deputy Prime Minister, many people inaccurately reconstruct the LibDem peak as 2010. But remember, it lost seats in that election, and indeed other than a tiny gain a few months after Clegg became leader in 2007, the LibDems started losing local elections well before the 2010 national election, and has lost every one of them since. This was topped off with the 2015 slaughter, which also deprived Kennedy of his seat.

Because of what I do for a living, I always take particular note of how people with addictions manage their lives and careers. Kennedy sadly was brought low by his drink problem, and apparently never got into stable recovery (He was drunk on Question Time this March). Whether his drinking and the immolation of the Liberal Democrats hastened his death we cannot know, but in any event it’s hard not to wonder how much more he might have achieved with different flaps of the butterfly’s wings.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College Lonon. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over ten thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

One thought on “Remembering Charles Kennedy”

  1. As Mrs Parker so aptly put it, "The poor son of a bitch."

    We can wish he had held it together a little longer to see off the unspeakable Clegg. But he didn't, and this is the world we live in. In another age his drinking would simply have been regarded as an eccentricity – as the poet remarked of the younger Pitt and Henry Dundas at the height of their power: "I cannot see the Speaker, Hal, can you?/What! Cannot see the Speaker? I see two!" – which would hardly have impacted his political career. Of course, Pitt didn't make old bones either, so perhaps there's a lesson in it after all.

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