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Obituary: Charles Kennedy

Photo is edited. Original credit - http://www.ilkleygazette.co.uk/
Photo is edited. Original credit - http://www.ilkleygazette.co.uk/
Photo is edited. Original photo credit – http://www.ilkleygazette.co.uk/

On the 1st of June, Charles Kennedy passed away at the age of fifty-five. The former MP had been a prominent member of the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Democrats, following the combination of the SDP and the Liberal Party, leading the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006.  

Kennedy was first elected into the Commons in 1983, defeating the Conservative MP in the seat of Ross, Cromarty and Skye. In the 1990s Kennedy found himself in the role of the Liberal Democrat President, and in 1999 he succeeded Paddy Ashdown in a leadership election.

As party leader Kennedy is best-remembered for his staunch opposition to the country’s participation in the Iraq War. Under Kennedy the Liberal Democrats won their best election result in 2005; however, to many Liberal Democrats the number of seats was nonetheless too small and not what they had been predicted to win. In 2006, after appearing haggard and unhealthy and acting peculiarly, Kennedy called a leadership election, revealing that he was struggling with alcoholism. He was forced to rule himself out of the competition when many members of his party pledged to resign if he took part.

Unfortunately Kennedy was one of the many Liberal Democrats whose seats were stolen from them in the 2015 General Election. To the surprise of many, Kennedy was ousted from his constituency by the Scottish Nationalist Ian Blackford. The former Liberal Democrat leader was devastated by the loss of his seat and his party’s destruction at the hands of the electorate.

Despite his alcoholism and the problems it brought him and his party’s reputation, Charles Kennedy was a great achiever who struggled against strong odds, a kind and compassionate Scot who stood by his principles. He will be a sorely-missed political figure.