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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: CHARLES KENNEDY MP LEADER OF THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2001
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used
DAVID FROST: And listening to that was the Liberal Democrat Leader, Charles Kennedy, he's down in Bournemouth preparing for his party's conference which is just about to start. Did you toy with the idea of cancelling it Charles?
CHARLES KENNEDY: Yes we did consider that option very seriously but I think that the decision we arrived at David, was that, and I think it was the correct one obviously, was that if you start cancelling or suspending domestic party politics really the terrorists are winning and therefore it's more important, as Mrs Thatcher very properly did when the IRA attacked their Brighton conference and caused that devastation and loss of life, it is business as usual. But the tone and the dignity and the decorum of this conference has obviously been altered as has the agenda itself to reflect the, the terrible events that are happening internationally.
DAVID FROST: And you've said in fact, in terms of, that Mr Blair deserves our support for what he's done so far, but there's going to be no blank cheque from the Liberal Democrats, from you, what did you mean by that?
CHARLES KENNEDY: Well there should be no blank cheque from us to the government on these matters and there should be no blank cheque from Britain to the wider community, particularly of course the United States, although we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Americans over the atrocities that have taken place. What we mean by that is that we need a measured, calculated response. I visited, for example, a Mosque in Central London on Friday of this week, the Muslim community who are united in their condemnation, I mean this is a complete, grotesque interpretation of Islam, they don't want to see this kind of violence, they certainly don't subscribe to the events that we witnessed on September the 11th in the United States. They're telling me that their premises within Britain are subject to increased level of attack and that individual Muslims and others in fact, not just the Muslim community, are subject to increased levels of attack. Now it's the responsibility of politicians across the spectrum and indeed of the media to make clear this is not an engagement with the Islamic world, the Islamic community, this is a campaign of a measured and sustained type on many fronts against sheer evil, the evil of terrorism.
DAVID FROST: And what about the role of the UN which is quiescent at the moment, your resolution on this subject implies that you'd like people working through the UN, is that immediately you'd like that or when the first wave of raids has taken place?
CHARLES KENNEDY: Well I think that the UN really has, has an ongoing pivotal role to play in all of this, we have argued as a party for many years, not just in the context of the present circumstances, that we would like to see more international accountability via the United Nations, we would also like to see more accountability in terms of our own domestic legislation in terms of the House of Commons where the security services are concerned are so on. These are very consistent principles that we've always argued for. Now whether in terms of the technicality the United Nations needs to look towards another Resolution or not I think you have to judge that as events develop and clearly as we speak events are uncertain.
DAVID FROST: Because obviously it's not real to imagine that we could have a veto over what the United States does or indeed we could really never publicly disagree with them could we?
CHARLES KENNEDY: Well I think that we are in the role of a close and candid friend where the United States is concerned at the moment and I think that the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Blair deserves support for the strenuous efforts in every sense of the word, politically as well as personally, that he has been devoting to this on both sides of the Atlantic over the last few days. I think also it needs to be said and the introduction to your programme you were saying it was an impressive address by the President to the Joint Meeting of Congress, it certainly was, I watched it in full and it was very touching but it was also extremely relevant to the matters in hand. You have to acknowledge, you know and I've lived in the mid-West of the United States, I appreciate only too well the constituency of opinion as well as the sense of sheer fear that many Americans will be feeling at the moment in the wake of these circumstances, but the President has got to, constitutionally as well as politically, take account of that strength of feeling but he has behaved and conducted the business of his administration and of his country in a measured responsible way which is seeking to build this international coalition of opinion and I think Britain has made a significant contribution to that as well.
DAVID FROST: Charles thank you very much indeed, we have another whole agenda on politics in Britain and so on which we will catch up with you as soon as possible to prosecute?
CHARLES KENNEDY: Let us hope things get back to some sense of normality sooner rather than later, but I rather agree with John Reid, it's liable to be later.
DAVID FROST: Thank you very much Charles, thank you.
CHARLES KENNEDY: Thank you David.
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