PODCAST: The story of Charles Kennedy’s leadership, and lessons to learn from it

The latest episode of Never Mind The Bar Charts welcomed back Duncan Brack for another of our reviews of previous party leaders. This time, it’s Charles Kennedy we took a look at:

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3 responses to “PODCAST: The story of Charles Kennedy’s leadership, and lessons to learn from it”

  1. No mention of his rôle in the Dunfermline by-election shortly after he was deposed? An unfortunate omission, I think, considering it propelled a certain W. Rennie into front-line politics.

    I think too you might have made more of the trust which Charles enjoyed amongst the general public. There can be no doubt that despite his flaws, his ability to make a connection with ordinary voters helped us gain many more votes during his leadership.

    • The podcast highlights that both Charles Kennedy and Boris Johnson were popular participants on HIGNFY. I think the parallels go further than that – both men had an easy going affability that gave them an everyman appeal across the political spectrum, both got some big political calls right – Johnson in recognising the public wanted to Get Brexit Done, and over Ukraine, Kennedy in recognising that there was an appeal post ’97, amongst voters on the centre left, for a non-socialist alternative party, and of course, Iraq. Both were inherently lazy, and unable to grasp policy detail, both were incapable of defining what they really stood for, politically, or where their party should direct itself. Both were brought down by their parliamentary colleagues being unwilling to serve under them, and subsequently a myth has grown around them both, that they were toppled by jealous rivals, and their successors have failed to match up to them.

  2. This is fascinating and familiar especially the 2001-5 period. Charles’ inability to lead (due to his disease) an increasingly ambitious group of MPs led to what became a public act in of cruelty that many still feel was justified. I dislike the title of Hurst’s book immensely. Being ill is not a flaw. This book tends towards labelling and defining someone by their disease. Churchill had mental health and alcohol problems. But being Prime Minister and ensuring success will bring with it the gifts of forgiveness. Charles’ tragedy was that he was unable to fulfill the ambition of his MPs, who eventually found their own success and failure by sealing their coalition pact with the right wing.

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