LETTER: Enormously sad at loss of Charles Kennedy

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As a former researcher to two MSPs at Holyrood, and the Liberal Democrat candidate in Hartlepool in 2001, I am enormously sad to hear of the death of Charles Kennedy.

He was said to have been removed as leader by the other Liberal Democrat MPs because of problems with alcohol but I, personally, never saw him drunk or even slightly intoxicated at any party conference nor any party event.

One could not say the same of all the other MPs.

He couldn’t be everywhere at once but, God bless him, he did try and broke a few hearts trying.

As Leader he was always on television, and he knew the importance of it.

His colleagues were eclipsed by him and that caused some tensions.

He came from the SDP originally and some of those Liberals whose families had been in the party for three generations or more could not forgive him for it.

He let the party members have their own way and decide policy at conference, particularly on tuition fees, when some of the MPs and MSPs saw tuition fees as the future.

Divisions within the party and outside it over tuition fees were more likely to be the true reason for his downfall, and ultimately for the poor show in last month’s election.

He just couldn’t tell the members what to think and he knew it.

Paddy Ashdown tried and failed to do that.

Ming Campbell and Nick Clegg tried too and failed.

Yet they criticised Charlie Kennedy for something they could never achieve themselves.

The party conference makes the policy, not the party leader.

Nigel F Boddy,

Fife Road,