Iraq innuendo

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Silly nonsense coming from the Kennedy camp:

Sir Menzies is trying to reassure members who think he is too right-wing. Allies of Charles Kennedy suggested yesterday that Sir Menzies was more cautious than the former leader in opposing the Iraq war. Mr Kennedy’s former chief of staff, Dick Newby, told ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby show that there was a row over an anti-war march in London in 2003. The views of some of the organisers alarmed Sir Menzies, who tried to talk Mr Kennedy out of going, he alleged.

Speaking as someone who was in on that row, the blockage came as much from Kennedy’s office as from Ming. And with good reason. I can absolutely see why senior politicians from a serious political party would be reticent about joining a platform with some of the most looniest lefties you are likely to meet.

When we insisted that the party should back that March it was not done lightly. We knew there were risks with being associated with the left. But we also knew there were benefits. In the event I have absolutely no doubt that Charles made the right decision and the party paid dividends ever since. But Ming was also right to be cautious, and that doesn’t suggest he was any less anti-war than the rest of us.

If he was ambiguous about the war, he could have stayed in bed and helped his convalescence when the crucial vote came (the man was recovering from chemo at the time). No-one would have thought any less of him. He didn’t, and I for one have never doubted his commitment since.

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