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Last Updated: Friday, 24 August 2007, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Kennedy questioned about future
Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy opened the third Festival of Politics at Holyrood
Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has been questioned about a return to frontline politics.

Mr Kennedy stood down as leader in January last year, days after admitting he had an alcohol problem.

He told an audience at the Scottish Parliament's Festival of Politics on Friday that his health was "good".

However, when he was asked by a member of the audience if he was planning a political comeback, Mr Kennedy avoided giving a direct answer.

The woman asked the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber: "Are you going to be the comeback kid?"

Being a former leader you've got more time to think, you can be a bit more choosy about how you communicate
Charles Kennedy

He replied: "When you have been the leader of a national political party obviously you know what is involved, you are still of an age where you have got something to contribute, but you don't have the relentless and remorseless demands upon you in quite the same way."

In response to questions over his health, Mr Kennedy said: "I'm happy and fulfilled in what I'm doing and it's up to me to keep it that way."

Mr Kennedy, who was the youngest MP in parliament when he won the Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat for the then Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1983, went on to talk about the changes that have taken place since he was first elected.

He recalled that most MPs did not possess a fax machine at that time.

"Now if you are involved in the story of the day you can be broadcasting 25 hours a day, eight days a week.

"And still it won't be enough, such is the insatiable appetite of the media monster," he said.

He added: "The danger is you have got all this capacity to communicate and very little time to think about what it is you are actually trying to communicate.

"Being a former leader you've got more time to think, you can be a bit more choosy about how you communicate."

'Political implications'

During his hour-long appearance at the Festival of Politics, Mr Kennedy also spoke about his decision to admit that he had sought help for a drink problem.

He told the audience: "I think individuals have got a right to a degree of privacy, even if you are in the public eye, where medical situations are concerned.

"But if you find that degree of privacy is going to be eroded then you may just as well tell people about it.

Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy spoke of his decision to admit he had sought medical help

"The issue for me wasn't so much that, it was obviously the political implications, which became clear fairly soon thereafter. But that's water under the bridge."

Mr Kennedy opened the third Festival of Politics at Holyrood, taking part in an interview with Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson.

The MP is one of this year's main speakers at the festival, along with BBC broadcaster Kate Adie.

Chefs Tony Singh and Clarissa Dickson-Wright, Scottish photographer Harry Benson and photojournalist Kieran Dodds will also take part.

The annual event concludes on Sunday with an opportunity to see behind the scenes at the Scottish Parliament.


SEE ALSO
Kennedy to lead festival line-up
06 Jul 07 |  Scotland
Politics festival 'huge success'
26 Aug 06 |  Scotland
Holyrood festival gets under way
23 Aug 06 |  Scotland

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