Charles Kennedy

I've been quite quiet on this issue, mostly because I can see both sides of the argument. There is no reason, absolutely none, why a 'reformed' alcoholic should not hold his position. One can never be cured, but must one have no weaknesses at all? Is that realistic?

Yes, he lied to the media, and, by extension, the public. Should the media have the right to know everything? I would argue not. If he had been ill with cancer instead of alcoholism, would we have had the same result?

On the other hand, with such a recent 'recovery' (two months) there are questionmarks still about whether he has the willpower to keep dry, two years would have been different. Most importantly, he lost the support of his MPs.

Charles has now resigned, and a new leader is what we will have.

Given that the party as a whole seems to have been supportive of Charles, the worst thing the party could do know is to have a 'coronation', this would completely cut out the membership. There is concern about divisiveness. Leadership elections do not have to be divisive. Look at the Davis/Cameron battle, they made no personal attacks, talked about issues (or in Cameron's case, 'values' with little substance, but hey, he won) and the party benefitted as a result.

A coronation would confirm in many eyes, mine included, that the actions of the MPs in recent days was due to personal positioning rather than a difficult decision wrestling with their consciences and looking for the good of the party.

Of course, one difference with the Tories is that their leadership transition was a long time coming, so ground rules could be laid down behind the scenes.

There is a wonderful show, which I think everyone should see, 'The West Wing'. It had a character in political life who was an alcoholic. He wes Leo McGarry (Chief of Staff), there was also John Hoynes (the Vice President - more important in real life, less so in the context of the show).

This storyline gave good insights into the diifference between alcoholism and drunkenness. There is a wonderful scene between McGarry and an intern who 'leaked' his story to the press. The echoes between that situation and this are incredible, with one exception - the fictional characters weathered the storm. John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry died in December last year, a sad loss.