How did Charles Kennedy die

The lonely death of the great liberal Charles Kennedy

Much has been said about the brutality of the British system since the general election. High popularity in the constituency, brilliant reputation across party lines, a wealth of experience, personal integrity - nothing protects those MPs whose party wants to punish the electorate. In Scotland in particular, many felt this in May, above all the now deceased former chairman of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy.

When the news of the lonely death of the 55-year-old - the exact autopsy result was still pending at the time of going to press - arrived in Westminster, it was as if the London Parliament district held its breath for a moment. Certainly Kennedy's political career had passed its climax with the loss of his mandate. But many had expected that the clever and witty politician would play an important role in the struggle for Britain's future in Europe, possibly as a member of the House of Lords.

Career at Labor secession SDP

The youngest son of a farming family grew up in the wild and romantic highlands in the shadow of Ben Nevis. Kennedy claimed that he never climbed Britain's highest mountain (1,344 meters), and friends believed it. Because the passionate smoker and whiskey drinker, music lover and profoundly educated historian never showed the slightest interest in physical fitness. His political passion was awakened while studying at the University of Glasgow; Kennedy ended up with the pro-Europe, pragmatic Labor secession SDP. The 23-year-old was nominated for parliamentary candidate for his home constituency during a Fulbright scholarship in the USA - Kennedy never allowed himself to be infected by the widespread anti-Americanism of the political left.

Not a pacifist

For one electoral term, from 1983 to 1987, the red-haired, very light-skinned Scot was a parliamentary baby. The young man persistently and patiently campaigned for the merger of his lurching SDP with the liberal party. The roots, liberalism and social democracy are in the name of the Liberal Democrats. No one embodied the two currents, the advocacy of social justice as well as civil rights, the cosmopolitanism with a clear connection to the West, as perfectly as Kennedy.

After he became chairman in 1999, he increased the number of votes and mandates for his party in two elections. In opposition to the Iraq war, Kennedy proved that he could think strategically. In a country that believes in the military, this was tantamount to a gamble. Labor and Tories held the line to Prime Minister Blair, Kennedy was tough. He is not a pacifist and detests the dictator Saddam Hussein, but: "I am not convinced that a war is necessary. And we should not act without our most important allies."

Health failures

The popularity in the country contrasted increasingly with the impatience of his group colleagues about frequent health problems of the boss. In 2006, Kennedy publicly admitted his drinking problem and resigned. The Scotsman considered the coalition with the Tories 2010 to be a serious mistake. He voted against it, also refusing to raise tuition fees, which dealt a catastrophic blow to the Liberal Democrats' credibility. His own integrity remained intact, even in private life. Although the late marriage broke up, Kennedy left nothing to be desired in caring for their son Donald, 10.

He would like to thank you for the trust you have shown over the past 32 years, said the brutally elected politician on the morning of May 8th after the general election and added: "I hope that you will find the trust justified later on." The elegant sentence of the great liberal democrat has become his epitaph. (Sebastian Borger, June 2nd, 2015)