Sir Menzies Campbell

British parliamentary democracy owes a huge amount to Menzies Campbell.  It is hard to realise just how brave he and Charles Kennedy were in determining to stick to their principles and oppose the invasion of Iraq.  The last party leader to oppose the sitting government when it went to war was Hugh Gaitskell over Suez.  He was right but it broke the Labour Party for a generation.




The key point about Charles and Ming opposing the war was that it meant that the million and more people who took to the streets to express their opposition knew that their frustration and anger was being represented in Westminster.  It did not necessarily mean that that all those people then voted LibDem but at least they knew that the system had given voice to their concern on this issue.

If the Liberal Democrats had followed the Conservatives in slavishly and supinely supporting Tony Blair, the damage to respect for representative democracy would have been immense.

Ming deserves his place in the history books just for that.  But of course his achievements cover a much broader field - captain of the British Olympic squad, UK 100 metre record holder for many years, top QC, winning a seat in parliament through dogged persistence when the voting system was stacked against Liberals.

And the greatest achievement of all is to know when it is time to go and do it gracefully and quickly.  I am proud to have had him as our leader.

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