Charles Kennedy and Nick Clegg on campaign trail in Glasgow
Your writer is just to the left of shot with other candidates

Yesterday evening as we were travelling the rumours of a Charles Kennedy defection to Labour started to circulate.

Charles Kennedy was one of the early SDP success stories taking the Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat in the 1983 General Election: just after a young Liberal, named Simon Hughes, was elected in a by-election in Bermondsey. Charles is the last incumbent Lib Dem MP who was elected on an SDP ticket and I like the fact that both he and Simon are becoming the spokespeople for the conscience of the party. They are two of the senior members who came from different perspectives to rise to the top.

However, the rumours appear to be either Labour led or some are suggesting from right-wing bloggers to destabilise the coalition. Looking back at that January day in 2006 when Charles resigned the leadership there were no rumours that that was the step he was going to take that morning. I know I was caught up in the media circus being phoned to come to the studio for an interview before the speed of change overtook that. So I don’t think he’s allow rumours of this kind to get out, he’d make the move and do it.

But I don’t think he’d make the move. At his first PMQ deputising for Cameron Nick Clegg reasserted that the party opposite had gone into an illegal war in Iraq. That is the view of the vast majority in our paty, including of course Charles Kennedy. I don’t think he’d feel at ease sitting shoulder to shoulder with the Labour members who voted for that war. The same goes for other former Labour members who are now part of the Lib Dems, who I suspect are the “rumoured colleagues” that Charles Kennedy will bring with him.

Life within the Liberal Democrats is often a tightrope of ideological struggle between the various strands of thoughts on issues. Liberal Democrats are used to fighting for their corner and their point of view even with their colleagues. We don’t give up that fight easily and after 100 days of coalition government and looking around the blogosphere and see that after initial trepidation the party is starting to speak its heart and mind once again.

That is why I think Charles and Simon and others will act from within the party and not seek to do things from elsewhere. Also there is the comment made earlier this week Nick Clegg:

“If we weren’t in a coalition now I don’t think people would take any notice of the Liberal Democrats.

“If we were in a coalition with Labour arguably our identity crisis would be even worse.”

Also if you are dissatisfied about the way the Government is doing things the easier way to bring about that change is from within that Government rather than from the other side of the House, which currently after 13 years of leadership is merely leading the league in whinging.

If Charles Kennedy is to be a figurehead within the party for the social liberal agenda being heard I’d be more that happy to man the rigging or scrub the decks for that good ship. I’m not, however, for lowering the flag of liberalism to raise a flag of convenience of any hue.

Read also: Not always you see Tom Harris defending Lib Dems, he is often doing just the opposite, but he is defending Charles from some totally unfounded claims.

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