Tomorrow The Times will serialise Greg Hurst' new biography of Charles Kennedy. It alleges that senior Libdems knew of Kennedy's drinking problem when he was first elected leader in 1999. It also reveals that Kennedy planned to make his alcoholism public in July 2003 but backed out at the last minute. When his drinking became a real issue his four closest aides (Anna Werrin, Dick Newby, Jackie Rowley and Lord Razzall) hatched plans to hide it from the public. Sir Menzies Campbell was also complicit in the deceit and according to The Times, the revelation will "call his judgment into question".
The book also offers an explanation for Matthew Taylor's fall from grace. In 2004 Sir Menzies Campbell and other senior MPs met Charles Kennedy, who was asked if he was an alchohlic. He replied "Yes". Matthew Taylor, then Party Chairman, repled: "The next time you pick up a drink, you give up being leader."
UPDATE: This has just been posted in the Comments... "I was a BBC reporter at the time of the 2005 General Election and I was preparing to interview kennedy. was going to ask about his drinking. I was warned off by the Top Brass only to find my assignment list was altered." Regular readers will remember a little spat I had with Nick Robinson when I accused him and others in the lobby of 'maintaining a conspiracy of silence' over certain issues. What I meant by that was that mainstream media journalists were keeping quiet about things which were entirely relevant to a politician's ability to do his/her job or stank of hypocrisy. Prescott's affairs and Kennedy's drinking were two examples I used. I'd love to hear from other journalists who were ordered by their bosses to keep quiet about various issues, which they might have felt were in the public interest. Anonymity is guaranteed.
As luck would have it I am doing the News 24 paper review at 10.50pm and 00.15 am!
PS: I suppose I ought to declare a minor interest in this book, having originally commissioned a book on Charles Kennedy when I was still with Politico's Publishing in 2003. It was meant to be written by former LibDem Policy Director Duncan Brack, but he decided not to go ahead in the end. After I sold Politico's Publishing they signed up Greg Hurst of The Times to take it on.