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There’s been much speculation over the last few days concerning Charles Kennedy’s drinking past, mainly fueled by the pending release of Greg Hurst’s new book. Essentially, though, it doesn’t seem to say an awful lot more than most people already presumed.
I say past drinking problem – but just exactly how “past” is it? I know that any recovering alcoholic would say they are never really ‘cured’ of alcoholism, but there’s certainly been a general idea that Charles has given up the alcohol, and is doing his best to adjust to life without it: An admirable ideal. Indeed, back in January, when admitting his problem for the first time at an extraordinary press conference, Charles said:
As a matter of fact I’ve not had a drink for the past two months and I don’t intend to in the future.
But Guido now appears to be suggesting that Mr Kennedy may not be living up to the high standard he’s set himself:
Sharper readers of the dead-tree-press will realise that headlines like “Kennedy ‘must recover’ before return” and “Sir Menzies Campbell made clear that he would be welcome but only once he is ‘fully recovered’ ” don’t make sense if he is now sober …
To be fair, when asked on television recently when it was he last had a drink Kennedy avoided answering the question. Guido knows that he has been the worse for wear as recently as June.
I like Mr Kennedy. I don’t think he’s the solution to all the world’s problems, but he was a different kind of politician to those who usually gravitate to the position of leader, and that was probably healthy for democracy. I would really hate for him to be politically damaged further by appearing to be deceiving the public a second time. I don’t think he’s done that yet, but I really think he needs to watch his step, and handle things very carefully and delicately.
Honesty may well be the best policy second time around.