... with a wee bit of hypocrisy thrown in for good measure.
Generally I don't care for LibDems - some of their policies are OK, but many are the dilettante posturings of people who know they will never be entrusted (thankfully) with real power - unless they can succeed in getting proportional representation into national politics in the way they have helped to weasel it into Scottish politics; I am no supporter of the SNP, but at least their recent semi-success has released us in Scotland from having a bunch of nonentities (i.e. most LibDems) in partial control of the Scottish Executive.
Right, so much for where I stand. My impression, though, of Charles Kennedy is that he has always been something of a maverick in British politics - he succeeded at getting into Parliament at a very young age, so is definitiely a political anorak. Apart from a year spent working in journalism and broadcasting with the BBC in Inverness, he has never worked outside politics - indeed the whole of his working life has been, in one way or the other, at public expense. Unfortunately there is nothing unusual about this in any part of the UK generally, and certainly not in Scotland in particular. However I think he did represent something a little new when he first entered politics - a person who had no real experience of anything suddenly catapulted at a very young age into national politics, where he has remained ever since. Nevertheless he has always struck me, and the little I know about him as a local MP (for various family members and friends) backs this up, as basically a 'pretty decent kinda guy' (TM - Tony Blair - lol) - but with a certain number of human frailties, notably his tragic over-fondness for alcoholic beverages and his long-term addiction to nicotine.
However, the latest story about him having been reprimanded for smoking in a public place (a train heading for Plymouth) just a few days after the smoking ban has been introduced in England made me wonder how he might have voted on this issue in the House of Commons - here is the damning evidence of his hypocrisy. Bizarrely I had never suspected him of that particular 'weakness' until now - just goes to show he really is very typical of most of the rest of the human race.
For the record, once more, I have never smoked but am not a 'militant' anti-smoker (other than in cars I own where I forbid it as it fouls up the ventilation system irreparably) - I believe in personal liberty and am sceptical of claims about the damage 'second-hand' smoke causes to others. It is true, though, that I have found it more pleasant to visit certain pubs and restaurants since the smoking-ban was introduced a year ago in Scotland, but whether this has justified the reduction in personal freedom which flowed from the change is less clear. What is clear, however, is that Charles Kennedy voted for this extension of the surveillance and 'control it' society we live in, so he must expect to have to live with the consequences, just as every other law-abiding citizen has to.
PS/ This is the nonsense that Charlie-boy voted for; as I mentioned above, he'll just have to live with it!