Friday, January 06, 2006

Charles Kennedy faces mutiny!

UK: As more MPs say you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. Reuters with the predictable literal slurping.

LONDON (Reuters) - Liberal Democrats leader Charles Kennedy faced a mutiny by followers on Friday when he refused to resign after admitting he had undergone treatment for alcohol abuse. Twenty-five of the 62 MPs from Kennedy's party signed a statement saying they would not serve under him as party leader beyond the weekend. One senior party figure called him a "dead man walking". But Kennedy, 46, who led the historically centrist third party to its best showing in decades in an election last year as the only major party leader to oppose the war in Iraq, said he wants to see off a challenge in a vote by party members. "We're a one member, one vote party and I believe I've the members' strong support," he said outside his London home. Kennedy said he had received a flood of letters of support from party members since acknowledging his drinking problem in a dramatic address on Thursday. A spokesman said he would not quit over the weekend.

Lib Dems historically centrist? If that was true, I am scared what would pass as leftist. Telegraph says this latest move proves Kennedy can't stay as leader.

Charles Kennedy deserves great sympathy and understanding for his drink problem, and credit for having had the courage to seek treatment for it. He has, however, exhibited deplorable judgment in choosing to call a leadership contest in an attempt to justify his belief that he should remain in charge of the Liberal Democrats. He is advancing no policy platform or programme on which he might claim to invite the renewed support of his party, other than that he is now sober, not having had a drink for two months. A reliance on alcohol does not rule anyone of talent out of high political office - Asquith was notorious for attending the Commons drunk when prime minister, and Churchill's daily consumption of champagne, claret and brandy was for decades prodigious. However, both Asquith - until the crisis after the Battle of the Somme - and Churchill enjoyed the confidence of their closest and most significant colleagues. Mr Kennedy manifestly does not.

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