Editorial: Young gun needs to aim carefully

There is a great difference between being a popular politician and popularising politics - a fact that the new Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy would do well to bear in mind in the coming months. Elected to Parliament for the SDP in 1983 at the age of 23, Kennedy holds the record as the youngest elected MP this century.

There is a great difference between being a popular politician and

popularising politics - a fact that the new Lib Dem leader Charles

Kennedy would do well to bear in mind in the coming months. Elected to

Parliament for the SDP in 1983 at the age of 23, Kennedy holds the

record as the youngest elected MP this century.



He has worked hard on developing his popuist credentials with

appearances on such TV shows as Call my Bluff and Have I got News for

You and has considerably more street cred than Hague, who despite the

recent ministrations of Amanda Platell has proved a rather flawed

’common man’ for the Tories.



Who can forget Notting Hill and that baseball cap?



In an interview with PR Week (published 20 August) Kennedy is positively

self-congratulatory about his own undoubted communication skills.

However he has also drawn fire from the media and his own party for some

glib responses to national broadsheets and on the hustings.



To date Kennedy’s political career has been bolstered by his

quick-witted humour and eloquence, but having secured the Lib Dem

leadership, he now needs to concentrate on his policies rather than his

persona. Kennedy needs to hitch his charisma to the ’popularising

politics’ bandwagon set in motion by Blair and given further momentum by

appointments such as that of Radio 1 DJ Nicky Campbell to front key

political programming.



But to do this successfully takes rather more wisdom than wit.



A popular politician is an anathema and Kennedy now has to work hard to

prove himself an active successor to Ashdown and a politician of

ideological substance.



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