Former Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy died at his home aged just 55.
Events like this often from shock and surprise begin a large outpouring of tributes from family, friends, colleagues and past political opponents. Complements and sharing from friends and foe alike that he will never know compound the tragedy of his passing; that he will never know the esteem with which so many held him in. A dedicated politician, like so many devoted his life and purpose to making the country a better place. We may differ in direction but not in the purpose. The sudden and untimely passing of Charles, stirs up such reflection and inspection of his life and it’s legacy upon us all, also for us stirs up feelings of what we ourselves have accomplished, how we will be remembered, what we too will inevitably leave behind.
Widely acknowledged as a great politician, talented and a loving father, he rose to the height as leader of the Lib Dems taking the party to its greatest electoral success in the 2005 elections with 62 seats. As with all main characters that generate such admiration and pathos he was flawed. He disclosed he was an alcoholic and was gently pushed aside, background of depression, family private difficulties, suffered marital problems all in the glare of the public eye for such a private person. Not befitting a man of such a distinguished and length service for his country as a public servant he lost his seat of twenty years just a few weeks ago to the SNP ending his political career in the most tragic of ways.
What I will personally remember him for is two things: firstly his stand against the Iraq War of 2003. He was not persuaded he declared; the great public were not persuaded. He spoke on behalf of the great many of us who were indeed not persuaded doing what all Members of the House should be elected to do- represent us. With courage, with the strength of his convictions and with great intellect and oratory he sought to sway the debate. Integrity and authenticity at work leaves a lasting impression.
The second was undoubtedly his appearance on Have I Got News For You as guest chair. Brilliant. Funny. Self effacing, humble and witty. He won the respect of the audience and the panel- not hard to do as other guests have often found. And appearing on this show must have been such a vulnerable position to put yourself in. Courage in the most exposed of situations, I felt he was facing his demons and critics, and soared.
So through tributes and reading how just this one individual will be remembered, are we not all asking how will we ourselves be remembered, what is the sum of our own lives worth before it too becomes all too soon forgotten.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”