Politicians Join Tributes To Charles Kennedy

Local Liberal Democrats saddened by death of former leader

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Local politicians have paid tribute to the former Liberal Democrats leader, Charles Kennedy, who has died at the age of 55.

Former MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Mary Macleod, who stood against Mr. Kennedy in Scotland in her first general election, said she was saddened to hear the news.

"It was so sad to hear today of the sudden death of Charles Kennedy. Charles was a gifted politician and even as a student was winning world debating championships.  I was there the night he was elected for the first time and at the hustings the evening before in 1983, when he became a MP at the age of 23.  I saw his political ability, his humour, his kindness and his community spirit when I stood against him in the 1997 General Election. 

"Even although I lost that election, I went away having gained so much knowledge and political experience, seeing an outstanding politician in action during the campaign. A good man has gone, too young and too soon. He will be missed by many – his son, family, politicians across the political spectrum and his former constituents in Ross, Skye and Lochaber in the Highlands of Scotland.  My thoughts are with them all."

Ealing's Lib Dem group, Councillor Gray Malcolm, remembers Mr Kennedy's visit to the area:

''This morning hearing that Charles Kennedy has passed away, humbled and shocked me. Charles was such a down to earth fella. In 2005, relatively new to politics. I asked if Charles could visit Acton and was delighted when he said yes.

''I saw first-hand what a wonderful person he was. Charles dealt with so many difficult questions from the residents of the South Acton Estate so well - giving them proper answers whilst managing to show how that politicians need to engage and interact with their audience. I learned quickly from this experience that politicians work FOR people, not the other way around.

''Charles was liked by people across different political parties and he was often the perfect judge of when a serious comment was needed as well as when the ice needed breaking with a light hearted comment. His comments on serious matters like the Iraq war still are so appropriate".

And Joe Bourke, who stood for the Liberal Democrats in the Brentford & Isleworth constituency in the general election last month said while he did not know Mr. Kennedy well, he had met him at several events throughout the years. "When he greeted it you it was as if you were lifelong friends renewing an acquaintance after a long separation.

"He was highly respected among Liberal Democrats and in his native Highlands as a man that lived and breathed integrity, principle and honesty with the courage to stand by his convictions in the oftentimes nefarious world of politics.

"These qualities were exemplified in his stance against the Iraq war when all around him were urging caution in swimming against the great tide of establishment support that the then Prime Minister had mustered."

A highly popular parliamentarian, Mr Kennedy became the youngest MP in 1983 when, at the age of 23, he won the Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat. He went on to lead his party from 1999 but in January 2006 said he had been receiving treatment for an alcohol problem and resigned as leader. He lost his seat in last month's elections.

Mr Kennedy's family said in a statement: "We are obviously devastated at the loss. Charles was a fine man, a talented politician, and a loving father to his young son."

Nick Clegg , who resigned as Liberal Democrat leader last month, said that on a good day Mr Kennedy had had "more political talent in his little finger than the rest of us put together".

"Charles devoted his life to public service, yet he had an unusual gift for speaking about politics with humour and humility which touched people well beyond the world of politics," he said.

"He was one of the most gentle and unflappable politicians I have ever known, yet he was immensely courageous too not least when he spoke for the country against the invasion of Iraq."

June 2, 2015