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Home > Politics

Charles Kennedy: a 12-step program for political recovery

2 April 2004

1. I admit that I am powerless over the Lib Dems - that my party has become unmanageable.

What the hell has just happened? One minute I'm everyone's best friend; my office was the hippest, most buzzing place in Westminster and Lembit Opik wanted me to go over to his to play tennis with him and Sian. I was on the cusp of the big time, I could feel it. Now suddenly, no one wants to sit next to me in the canteen any more. I feel like a dead man walking. Lembit left me a note saying Sian had got tonsillitis and could we rearrange. It's all fallen apart. I know now what IDS felt like.

2. I believe that a Power greater than myself could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living.

Well, to be honest, we all believe in such a power. And his name is Menzies. Good old Menzies could snap them all back into line in five seconds. I wish I was more like him - better cheekbones, less ginger, a little bit taller. Maybe I should get a pair of those built-up shoes like Sylvester Stallone wears.

3. Make a decision to turn my will and my party over to the care of this Power of my own understanding.

Maybe for a bit. David Steel suggested taking three months off, and I'm sure Menzies would look after things until I got back, keep my seat warm. I trust him more that I trust that Simon Hughes fella. I'm sure it was him who signed me up for text alerts from Threshers. The bastard.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of myself.

Last time I looked, we were worth £306,703, which isn't too bad, I suppose. Enough for one hell of a piss-up, put it that way.

5. Admit to myself and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Not that I have any. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I am never sick and I don't eat dairy, refined carbohydrates or caffeine. I consume only 300 calories a day, maximum. And I never ever lie.

6. I am entirely ready to have any defects of character removed.

I think I'm too nice. I should start pointing and swearing, I think. It worked for Thatcher.

7. Humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings.

And if he could swing Croydon South, that would be nice too.

8. Make a list of all persons I have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.

Maybe I was a bit harsh on Tony over Iraq. Let's face it, the man is under a tremendous amount of pressure. It's a wonder he hasn't hit the bottle.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I think I'll take him out for a quiet pint (or twelve).

10. Continue to take personal inventory and when I am wrong, promptly admit it.

Yes, that's what I'll do. Take him down the Red Lion on Whitehall. Sit him down over a long, smooth, cold pint of Guinness, and explain how I sympathise with him over the appalling failures in intelligence-gathering, as the creamy head settles atop the deep, dark, caliginous body of the liquid.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out.

Actually, come to think of it, he's probably a bit busy. Let's see now. What have we got here? Ah yes, perfect. I reckon I'll head over to his office with this bottle of Highland Woodcock. That would be much more intimate, anyway. I think he'd appreciate the gesture.

12. Having made an effort to practice these principles in all my affairs, I will try to carry this message to other compulsive Lib Dems.

Actually, come to think of it, he's probably snowed under. Still, it seems a shame to let it go to waste…

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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