Was Charles Kennedy treated fairly by party?

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Did the Liberal Democrats really deserve such a leader as Charles Kennedy?

He pulled up the party by its boot straps from a derisory representation at Westminster to 62 members.

And just look what has happened since. The party has careered downhill and now has just eight MPs. And they have lost to the Scottish Nationalists the coveted position of the third largest party at Westminster, with all the advantages that bestows.

Kennedy was booted out after one of the most shameful smear campaigns – conducted disgracefully by some of his own party colleagues – it has ever been my misfortune to witness. They were even whispering libels about him through cupped hands into my ears.

That is why some of the tributes paid to his memory in Parliament the other day, struck me as beyond hypocrisy. You don’t have to look very far to discover which one is the nasty party. I don’t know how Kennedy tolerated it.

How revealing it would have been to be a fly on the wall at internal meetings of the Labour Party leadership during the general election campaign. And although party grandees managed to adopt a reasonably brave face for public consumption, there must have been turmoil behind the closed doors.

Things must have reached a pretty pass that one of Ed Miliband’s principal advisers, Greg Beales, was forced to tell the Labour leader and some of his squabbling henchmen: “Stop behaving like children. We’ve got an election to win.” He was not the only one to snipe at the Labour leadership.

The outspoken Labour back-bencher Simon Danczuk, who had his biggest majority ever at Rochdale in this campaign, said that his majority would have been even higher if the party did not have such a “rubbish” leader as Ed Miliband. Not a man to mince his words.

And Lord Mandelson has also reappeared to criticise Labour’s campaign performance.

I remember Stephen Pound, now Labour MP for Ealing North, once telling me that when he was a member of a left-wing socialist group, they spent more time fighting among themselves than fighting the Tories.

The mainstream Labour Party leadership should not forget that.