Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Charles Kennedy's untimely death is not your soapbox

I was very saddened to wake this morning to news that the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy had passed away at the age of fifty-five.  I was almost as saddened to see that, amongst the many and varied warm, personal tributes to the former MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, a few people on social media have decided that Mr Kennedy's passing is the perfect platform for their own axe-grinding political prejudices.

Of course Charles Kennedy had principles.  But Nick Clegg led his party into coalition on principle too.  If the Lib Dems hadn't gone into government with the Conservatives, would their voteshare have collapsed so dramatically at last month's general election?  Of course not.  To do something even though it is bound to be unpopular and lose you votes, because you think it is the right course of action, is surely the very definition of 'principled'.

Using Mr Kennedy's death as an opportunity to take a swipe at those in the Lib Dems who supported going into coalition in 2010 seems cheap.  Undignified.  When you say 'RIP Charles Kennedy', it is a statement of respect for someone who is sadly no longer with us; how respectful is it to cherry-pick certain aspects of Mr Kennedy's life which tally with your own world view, and use them for tacky political points-scoring, or to push your own agenda?

When someone well-known dies, and your response boils down to 'the best thing about Charles Kennedy was how he agreed with me and vindicated my opinions!' that's not a eulogy, that's petty, self-serving banner-waving.  Charles Kennedy's death is not all about you.

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