Andrew George's letter to Charles Kennedy

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Indy Politics

"Following our telephone conversation again this morning I write, with the greatest regret and disappointment to indicate to you that I intend to resign from the Shadow Cabinet as the Party's Shadow International Development Secretary from next Monday (9th January) unless you indicate that you are prepared to at least reflect on the views of both the Shadow Cabinet and the Parliamentary Party before deciding how the leadership of the Party should be resolved.

You will know that, unlike some of our Parliamentary colleagues who have, in my view, very unhelpfully either publicly or privately briefed the media and who have generally ventilated in public without consulting colleagues, especially yourself, I have spoken to you to discuss directly with you my personal concerns and anxieties about matters relating to the leadership of the Party.

You will also know that I had urged you - in preferably calmer circumstances than existed yesterday - to make a personal public statement about your drinking problem and you will know that I have consistently raised my concerns with you about this, but felt the situation was no longer sustainable.

I hope you will also appreciate that I have the highest regard for your political judgment and the leadership you have shown in often difficult circumstances and that you have consistently made the correct call on the most challenging political judgments of the day - Iraq, Butler Inquiry, ID cards, etc. - whilst other political leaders have vacillated, used the benefit of hindsight or behaved in a characteristic brazenly opportunistic manner.

I have enjoyed being your PPS and have been happy to take on the (relatively publicity free!) portfolios of rural affairs and international development and to serve under you in the Party's Shadow Cabinet.

Unlike others, I have resisted invitations to speak publicly or to brief privately and have remained loyal. You will know that I have spoken to you on a daily basis since the New Year to discuss your position and how I believed both you and we should proceed.

Though, as I said, I felt that your personal statement yesterday demonstrated the tremendous courage that I have always admired about you, I do not believe your comment on leadership challenges is necessarily in the best interests of the Party now.

Clearly I cannot remain in a Shadow Cabinet if I do not believe that the present situation is sustainable. I would hope that you would do the honourable thing and recognise what I believe is, as I put it to you yesterday and today, "inevitable" and agree, by Monday, to set a date to step down as Leader, in the best interests of the Party.

I am sure that, on reflection, you will agree that, as I said, it is not credible for a Party Leader to have the passive support of the wider membership without first ensuring that he has the confidence of the vast majority if not the whole of his Parliamentary colleagues.

With my personal very best wishes to Sarah, Donald and yourself and with many regrets."