Why they want Kennedy to go
There has been a concerted campaign to change the leadership of the Liberal Party, yet the demand is not coming from within the membership. It is, therefore, justified to ask the question as to who or what is behind these efforts. The short answer is that Charles Kennedy is an obstacle in the establishment plan to retain control of the body politics.
When Tony Blair changed old Labour into new Labour with the help of Peter Mandelson, not many suspected that this would mean the end of the Labour movement; today Blair is widely known as Bush’s poodle. For these career politicians in the service of the establishment political loyalty does not exist. Mandelson, now the embodiment of capitalism, started out as a member of the Young Communist League. There is no reason to believe Gordon Brown will be any different, but with the Iraq war and ultra-Thatcherite reforms at home the government’s credibility has been severely dented and the chances of Labour winning yet another term are slim.
This month the Tories have seen the beginning of the old Conservative Party to be revamped into the New Conservatives under David Cameron. It is no coincidence that Cameron was the leadership favourite and media darling. He is a neo-conservative (in the American meaning of the term) apologist of the war who compared Islamic terrorists to the Nazis. His true colours were first exposed by Neil Clark in the Guardian.
Nonetheless, the Tory party is far too discredited and tainted from its past to be considered a serious alternative to the Blairite nanny state government. And here is where the Liberals are destined to play there part unless they’re careful. Cameron has appealed to Liberals to enter into an alliance with him as his new Tory party is the real liberal centre ground. Charles Kennedy who is both critical of the Iraq war and conciliatory towards Muslims would, of course, have to go before such a Conservative-Liberal coalition could come about.
Just like David Davis provided the stepping stone for David Cameron, Sir Menzies Campbell might be set up as the initial challenger to Charles Kennedy. The ultimate beneficiaries might be the Euro-sceptic Nick Harvey or, more likely, Mark Oaten who argues for “tough liberalism” to replace the party’s soft image. Mandelson sure must be pleased at the latter’s voting record regarding gay rights.
Media commentators make a lot of Kennedy’s drinking habit these days. He might not be a match for Gordon Brown in the pub but the motivation in smearing his image is most certainly political. Boris Yeltzin’s habit did not stop him from being president, because the puppets displayed to the public as running the show are not selected on the basis of their personal integrity.
With the population becoming increasingly disillusioned about politics there is a real risk of the public turning its back on Westminster. A deal between the Tory’s and Liberals could make the two electable and ensure that the sham continues for a little longer. If the Liberals want to be a real alternative to the mirror images of Labour and Tories, they should be extremely weary about letting Kennedy go.