Waking up yesterday to the unmediated shock of Charles Kennedy's death was horrible. Despite the generosity and breadth of tributes from friends and foe alike, it felt like another blow to the tattered cause of Liberalism. Much as, nearly thirty years ago, David Penhaligon epitomised the radical Celtic tradition, it felt as though fate had struck again.
In retrospect, Kennedy stands alongside Jo Grimond as a principled radical, whose steering of Liberal values earned support beyond the tribal and the protesting bourgeois. Defining a non-statist, anti-authoritarian anti-Tory politics was an achievement, and one which inspired in general even if there were, inevitably, areas of policy differentiation. It is dreadfully sad, and nothing can change the rawness.
His legacy as a Scottish maverick and fallible human will stand the test of time. Whether the next leader moves the Liberals back to the radical ground will determine whether the rest of the party learn from his example.