The Lib Dem MP and former leader Charles Kennedy died this week. In every single sense this is a tragedy not only for his family, but for Liberal politics in Scotland and across the UK.
Kennedy was exceptionally well liked because he was a decent man and those of us that dumped Labour after voting for them for the last time in 1997 found Kennedy’s party a more democratic fit than the increasingly right wing, authoritarian Labour Party that Tony Blair was shaping.
When Kennedy was hounded out of the leadership job by his own party due party to his struggle with alcoholism, but because the right of his party decided to use his illness to pull off a coup and drag the party to the right, I felt real sorrow because Kennedy had worked so hard to build the Lib Dems up as a moral and intellectual force that stood against not just the Tories, but what Labour had become.
But I still gave the Lib Dems my vote in the hope things would remain the same, and like many, many others I lived to regret it as Nick Clegg jumped at the chance of getting into bed with the Tories and in the last five years Kennedy has been dismissed by far too many in the Westminster political bubble as an irrelevance or worse.
When I heard of Kennedy’s death the second thing I though after the initial shock (55 is not an age to go) is ”when is some lunatic going to blame his death on the SNP?”.It only took hours. Then Michael White of the Guardian joined in on his Twitter feed, and then the Daily Mail piled on. At this point even the Mail crossed a line, but then again, it’d crossed the line of using a sad avoidable death for copy previously.
I was pretty fucked off by the entire thing but being unable to articulate that I was glad to see this brilliant article from the Wee Ginger Dug that articulates things perfectly. It’s a fantastic, angry and human piece of writing that stands above the open sewer the Mail stands in and the likes of Michael White and Ruth Davidson splash around in trying not to get shite on themselves but on their enemies.
There are truths that are true because they actually happened. And there are truths that are true just because everyone knows them to be true. The UK media specialises in the creation of the latter. The latest true truth that’s only true because everyone knows it to be true is that Charles Kennedy was hounded into his grave by Scottish nationalists. But everyone isn’t everyone. Everyone isn’t you or me, it’s everyone with power, everyone with influence, everyone with a position to lose. They say it must be so, and so it becomes the truth.
So now we have another true truth that never happened, the latest in a litany of the lies that comprise the story telling that passes for news. Like the truth that Nicola Sturgeon wanted the Tories to win so it doesn’t matter what the French ambassador said. Like the truth that Dennis Skinner was driven…
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