Charles Kennedy sidelined amid health concerns

Former party leader set to lose key referendum role amid fears of ill-health.

The Lib Dems maintain real affection for Charles Kennedy, but even their patience has been tested after the former party leader pulled out of a series of conference events.

Kennedy left the conference early yesterday -- missing Nick Clegg's speech -- ostensibly for "family reasons", but concerns over his health have been voiced across the party. He pulled out of a Guardian fringe event yesterday lunchtime, having already missed the opening rally of the conference and another fringe meeting on Sunday night.

A spokesman for Kennedy said: "He was due to be heading back to London. Charles had never intended to be at conference for Nick's speech. He has a family event this afternoon."

Today's Times reports that (£) plans for him to play a leading role in the referendum campaign next year are set to be abandoned. One senior Liberal Democrat is quoted as saying: "I don't think you can rely on him for anything." Another said: "I honestly don't know what the problem is."

Friends of Kennedy's concede that he has struggled to recover from alcoholism and that there are days when he is "below par".

It's not hard to see why this year has been tougher than most for Kennedy. He separated from his wife last month, suffered the death of his long-standing political adviser, Anna Werrin, earlier in the year and has had his every utterance picked over for signs of disloyalty.

Admirers of Kennedy, both inside and outside the party, hope to see him make a return to front-line politics in the future. But for now, Kennedy's health problems, real or imagined, are holding this impressive campaigner back.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Appreciate the full horror of Nigel Farage's pro-Trump speech

The former Ukip leader has appeared at a Donald Trump rally. It went exactly as you would expect.

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce Nigel Farage is at it again.

The on-again, off-again Ukip leader and current Member of the European Parliament has appeared at a Donald Trump rally to lend his support to the presidential candidate.

It was, predictably, distressing.

Farage started by telling his American audience why they, like he, should be positive.

"I come to you from the United Kingdom"

Okay, good start. Undeniably true.

"– with a message of hope –

Again, probably quite true.

Image: Clearly hopeful (Wikipedia Screenshot)

– and optimism.”

Ah.

Image: Nigel Farage in front of a poster showing immigrants who are definitely not European (Getty)

He continues: “If the little people, if the real people–”

Wait, what?

Why is Trump nodding sagely at this?

The little people?

Image: It's a plane with the name Trump on it (Wikimedia Commons)

THE LITTLE PEOPLE?

Image: It's the word Trump on the side of a skyscraper I can't cope with this (Pixel)

THE ONLY LITTLE PERSON CLOSE TO TRUMP IS RIDING A MASSIVE STUFFED LION

Image: I don't even know what to tell you. It's Trump and his wife and a child riding a stuffed lion. 

IN A PENTHOUSE

A PENTHOUSE WHICH LOOKS LIKE LIBERACE WAS LET LOOSE WITH THE GILT ON DAY FIVE OF A PARTICULARLY BAD BENDER

Image: So much gold. Just gold, everywhere.

HIS WIFE HAS SO MANY BAGS SHE HAS TO EMPLOY A BAG MAN TO CARRY THEM

Image: I did not even know there were so many styles of Louis Vuitton, and my dentists has a lot of old copies of Vogue.

Anyway. Back to Farage, who is telling the little people that they can win "against the forces of global corporatism".

 

Image: Aaaaarggghhhh (Wikipedia Screenshot)

Ugh. Okay. What next? Oh god, he's telling them they can have a Brexit moment.

“... you can beat Washington...”

“... if enough decent people...”

“...are prepared to stand up against the establishment”

Image: A screenshot from Donald Trump's Wikipedia page.

I think I need a lie down.

Watch the full clip here:

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland