IT WAS THE drink that got him in the end must surely be one of the saddest sentences in the English language.

This week it was applied to sparkling, witty, decent Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat politician who was found dead at the unbearably young age of 55.

Charles Kennedy was the only Liberal Democrat smart enough to see Nick Clegg for what he was and to foresee what his preposterous coalition would mean for the party which had made its name for independent and fair-minded thinking. In part this coalition did for Charles Kennedy – despite being a brilliant and respected MP he lost his Highlands seat to the Scottish Nationalists.

There’s been no inquest or autopsy report just yet, but it’s hard to believe that alcohol – to which Charles was sadly addicted – won’t have played its evil part in his passing.

Yet the way it was initially reported, with even the BBC Today programme talking shyly about him ‘liking a tipple’, you’d have thought it may have played no part at all.

In this Charles Kennedy was not alone. There are thousands of people who know the pain of alcoholism, whether they be victim, or family and friend.

The very thing that can make the alcoholic such fun to be around when they are on form can also be the very thing which destroys their body and, ultimately, their will to keep fighting. Yet the problem is barely acknowledged.

So while it was brutal, I’m glad Charles’ friend, Lord Oakeshott, made it blatantly clear what he thought had happened.

“Let's be frank, if he hadn't had a drink problem he would be the leader of the Liberal Democrats today and the Liberal Democrats would be in a far, far stronger position,” he said.

“It was drink that got him. It's terribly, terribly sad but it is a terrible disease.”

It is and I’m sick of hearing it talked about like a minor affliction.

Enjoying a drink is what people do when they have a glass of champagne at their daughter’s wedding, or when they knock back a cold cider on a hot day at the pub.

It’s the occasional and savoured cognac; the bottle of beer when you come home from work.

It isn’t the hopeless, ghastly feeling of trembling hands, a shaking body, self-loathing and lost weeks, months and years, and it would be helpful if we could acknowledge this.

Charles Kennedy suffered from an illness as serious as cancer which appeared to have snatched away his marriage, his family and his career.

Yet his alcoholism was barely mentioned even though it was well-known by those who loved and cared for him.

In a world where you can’t move for celebrities waffling on about their transgender operations, where people are queuing up to show off their ‘Embarrassing bodies’ on TV, where people post pictures of their bits all over the internet, it is pitiable that alcoholics can’t declare their illness without fear and shame.

Not calling someone an alcoholic when they are isn’t kind and it doesn’t help. It allows the condition to fester and grow.

So if any good can come out of the loss of talented, loveable Charles Kennedy, I hope it’s that we start calling a spade a spade, and an alcoholic an alcoholic.

NOT to cast shame or opprobrium because they know enough about that, but so we can then demand that more is done to help them. Because we really cannot afford to lose any more of our precious and beloved family and friends to this awful but treatable condition.

Pathetic excuse from pervert

Poole pervert Michael Hardiker said he downloaded child pornography because he was ‘stressed’ by the sale of his bungalow and general bad weather at the time. I’m, not sure what infuriates me more; his decision to view little children being sexually assaulted. Or the pathetic, ludicrous and insulting excuses he trotted out for doing this. Looking on the bright side, Hardiker has now got the ideal opportunity to experience some genuine stress – he’s been sent to prison and you know what happens to people like him in there...

My response to last week's column 

Thanks for all your comments and letters on last week’s piece about why I hope they amend the Human Rights Act. I won’t be changing my views because I’m hoping for what they have in America and France; a Bill of Rights or declaration pertinent to me, not dictated by foreign powers.

In a country where I can’t choose to die with dignity, where my friend’s autistic child doesn’t have any right to be cared for an in appropriate institution and where I am governed in part by a parliament packed with unelected appointees, reform can’t come quickly enough.

Blessed to see any copper on the streets

Met Police Chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe reckons the public have had enough of fat bobbies ‘waddling down the road’.

Really? Perhaps Sir Bernard should know that the Great British Public would feel themselves blessed if they saw ANY copper on the beat these days, never mind a fat one.

SamCam's beach body not a mystery 

How does SamCam maintain her beach body is the question we’re all supposed to be pondering this week. The fact that her husband’s a millionaire, she doesn’t have to do the cleaning and has oodles of time on her manicured hands to get fit may just have something to do with it.

Note: This piece by Faith is an opinion piece and not a news report. You can contact Faith by tweeting @HerFaithness