Charles Kennedy, 1959-2015

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of former leader of the Liberal Democrats, and MP for 32 years, Charles Kennedy.

We are deeply saddened to note the death of former leader of the party, Charles Kennedy. Many saw him as a respected leader, politician and humanitarian, across the political spectrum and outside of it. He led the Liberal Democrats to our party's greatest electoral successes and showed immense courage when standing up against injustice, most notably when his spoke for the country agains the invasion of Iraq.

Following the end of his 32-year career as an MP, he wrote the following article on LibDemVoice:

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"I am very fond of political history. If nothing else, we can all reflect on and perhaps tell our grandchildren that we were there on “The night of long sgian dubhs!”

I would very much like to thank my home team. They have been so energetic, dedicated and selfless to the task. Indeed, with them, I would like to thank the very many over the years who have made possible the previous seven successful general election campaigns locally.

I spare a thought for, and this is true of so many constituencies, for members of staff. It is one thing for elected representatives to find themselves at the mercy of the electorate; it is quite something else for the other loyal and skilled people who, sadly, will in due course be searching for employment. I wish them well and stand ready to help. I am sure that their professionalism will stand them in good stead.

It has been the greatest privilege of my adult and public life to have served, for 32 years, as the Member of Parliament for our local Highlands and Islands communities. I would particularly like to thank the generation of voters, and then some, who have put their trust in me to carry out that role and its responsibilities.

Locally, I wish my successor the very best. The next House of Commons will have to finalise the Smith Commission package, giving effect to the referendum “Vow” over further powers. I am saddened not to be involved in that process.

However, from the perspective of the Highlands & Islands, the case for more powers being returned to us which have been lost to the Central Belt over the past five years, has to be heard as well.

On the national picture, I am indeed sorry to learn of Nick’s decision but respect entirely his characteristic sense of personal, political and party principle.

The eligible candidates must reflect with care and collectively before we rush into the best way forward – out of this political debris we must build with thought and care.

Nick, I do hope, will be able to contribute with gusto to the great European debate which is now looming.

It is one, as a Liberal Democrat, in which I wish to be actively engaged myself.

The next few years in politics will come down to a tale of two Unions – the UK and the EU. Despite all the difficult challenges ahead the Liberal Democrat voice must and will be heard.

We did so over Iraq; we can do so again. Let us relish the prospect."

 

Commenting on his death, Nick Clegg has said: "He always remained modest about his huge achievements. Whenever I asked him for advice, he was unfailingly kind and wise. Most of all, I will never forget the pride and love with which he would talk about his own family, most especially his devotion to his son Donald. My heart goes out to his sister and brother and to Sarah and Donald at this tragic time."

The Liberal Democrats, and many more outside the party, will never forget him. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and many political and non-political colleagues today.