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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Can an alcoholic lead a political party?

Here in the UK, the leader of the 3rd largest political party (80 of 657 seats in Parliament) has been forced to resign after admitting that he sought treatment for an alcohol problem during 2005.

It set me thinking. There's been the usual, "But Churchill drank a lot, so did so-and-so" responses. But there have also been lots of statistics bandied around about the number of alcoholics in the UK etc etc. And this made me think: if the stats are correct, then by the law of averages there are a lot of recovering alcoholics occupying senior and responsible positions across society. So why can't one run a political party? We seem to have addressed societal prejudices / taboos / concerns about colour, ethnic origin, sexuality and disability. Why are we worried about the fact the guy has 'fessed up to a drink problem?

To me, this case simply says a lot about the intolerance of the politicians concerned and their short-term, "what's the political fallout next week"attitude. The man concerned led them to their biggest successes in 80 years. (I voted for them last time.) Had they said, "OK, now we're going to work with you to ensure you can carry on" I'd have been mighty impressed. As it stands, I am now even more likely to move back to the new Tory party under David Cameron.

Comments:
WOW! What a great question. In my mind it comes down to a couple of variables. First of all, it is important to recognize the fact that alcoholism can create havoc for the alcohol abuser and all those involved. I guess that is the reason for the knee jerk reaction in this case. It becomes politically correct (and politically advantagious for the opposition)to make such decisions. However, there is also the other side. Should a person be condemned for being truthful and taking the necessary steps to correct a situation. Furthermore, is it once condemned always condemned. I for one know that being in recovery can be a very powerful state. I know many very successful people are that way because they are in recovery and use the principles of recovery to guide their lives.

I could really go on about this topic, but to make it short, if the person is genuine about recovery and working the program, then let it ride. Unless the alcoholism re emerges and causes problems, Then there is no issue. Judge based on the accomplishments in the job, not what we deem to be right or wrong personally. I firmly believe that people in recovery can lead us. The most admirable thing is that this person was HONEST! It could have been avoided or covered up etc... Great topic, I hope you get a lot of responses.
 
I wonder ... out loud ... is George Bush a recovering alcoholic?
 
Unless it affects his job , it doesn't matter.
 
If the man is sober now, I see no reason to oust him. I thought the British were much more laid back about these issues than their American cousins.
 
Hi Mark

It is great that Charles Kennedy stood up and admitted his problem - I think he can come back if he sticks to his abstention. There but for the grace of God go all of us.

As I read this the media are annoyed because when they wanted to tell the world about Mr Kennedy’s drink problems a couple of years ago Mr Kennedy denied he had a problem and threatened to sue newspapers if they printed what Mr Kennedy called 'lies' about his problems. The press argument is now that he 'lied.' When he finally admitted last week he had a problem the media were sadly were going to make him pay dearly – that is one of the down sides of our press – they do not think about the human consequences of their actions.

By the way if 'lying' is a reason to resign then all 657 MP's should go tomorrow!

I am intrigued about what is going on in the Liberal Party – the knives were clearly out for Mr Kennedy in the last few weeks. I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye. It is probably more to do image than anything else. That is one of the reasons I am not going to go toward David Cameron.

I like Charles Kennedy - I admire him for his honesty and I hope he can come back into politics at the top level.
 
At least he sought help for his problem. Booze is the lifeblood of national governments, so alcohol abuse is not at all uncommon at those levels.

Is he supposed to be inferior to all the drunks still in office, just because he tried to correct his behavior??
 
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