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21 June 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:18am

Charles Kennedy: man of principle

Like him or loathe him, you can’t deny he sticks to his guns.

By James Macintyre

You have to admire Charles Kennedy.

Whether or not you agree with his decision to oppose the Liberal Democrats’ move to enter a coalition with the Conservatives, or his opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the former, highly successful Lib Dem leader — who, it should be remembered, won more seats than any other Lib Dem leader in history, including Nick Clegg — is never unwilling to take highly unfashionable positions because he believes they are right.

Now, it has emerged that he reportedly refused to shake David Cameron’s hand in the House of Commons and gave a colourful condemnation of the Lib-Con coalition to a Labour MP. Paul Waugh has the details.

Kennedy may well be proved right in the end, of course, as the coalition seems to some to be a no-win situation for the Lib Dems. If the Tories, for whom they are providing cover, implement a cuts programme that produces a recession, the party will be tainted. If the cuts work, the Libs may be seen as irrelevant, and, having served their purpose of getting David Cameron into Downing Street, cast aside by the Tories. Whether and how they can re-establish themselves as an independent political force remains to be seen.

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