MY OLD FRIEND CHARLIE

We woke to the news of the death of Charlie Kennedy. What a terrible blow for his family, especially his young son, and what a shock to all of us who cared about him.

True, I hadn’t seen Charlie for years, but there was a time, way back, when I guess I saw him most days.

I was the political reporter for the Aberdeen Press and Journal and he was one of the MPs in my patch.

I used to spend a lot of time with him, often in one or other of the many Westminster bars … and therein lies the tragedy.

There have been warm tributes from the great and the good and rightly so.

In many ways, he was perhaps one of the most courageous people I’ve ever met. There he was, like a wee boy lost, pitched into cauldron of Westminster, at just 23, far from home, family and friends, and bearing the brunt of so much responsibility for his constituents, bearing the weight of all their expectations, and bearing the brunt of so much hope from his party colleagues.

And he shone.

He was a bright, bright star

He was a fantastic debater, taking apart an opponent’s argument with a keen wit and a sharp mind.

But he paid a huge price for his brilliance.

Back in the ’80s, the Commons sat until at least 10.30 every night, and spending the evening in one of the many bars became somewhat routine for MPs like Charlie, from far flung constituencies, with no real home in London. Charlie was very good natured, always affable, never pompous, alwayes pleased to stop for a chat and a laugh. He didnt mind being teased and was the first to mock himself – I am smiling as I write and recall the guffaw when serving as health spokemsan, he was ordering dinner, fag and glass in hand, insisting that he was eating no green stuff.CK7947

He was of the brightest and best of his generation, one of the kindest men and one of the finest Parliamentarians and I am so very, very sad that he has died.