Tributes are being paid to Charles Kennedy who led the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006.
Tributes are being paid to Charles Kennedy, who was found dead this morning (2 June 2015). He led the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006 and represented the Highlands in Parliament for 32 years. Both a graduate of the University of Glasgow and a former Rector, he will be remembered fondly by many in this city, not least among his Liberal Democrat colleagues.
From Robert Brown (Councillor for Rutherglen South and former MSP for Glasgow):
"I am totally devastated by the death of Charles Kennedy – and I am sure my feelings will be shared by many people across Scotland, across the political divide. Charles was one of those rare people who was totally genuine; he was a private person but made other people feel special. He had a rare gift of putting political and personal truths into language that people related to.
I have known him since he was a student at Glasgow University, through his time as a young MP and later as one of the most engaging – and successful – of Liberal Democrat leaders. His principled opposition to the disastrous Iraq War was something which defined the politics of an era and a generation. I had the great privilege of speaking for the Liberal Democrats at the huge demonstration against the Iraq War of 100,000 people at the SECC in Glasgow – Charles Kennedy spoke against the War on the same day to the Rally of an amazing million people in London. A tremendous reminder of the common sentiments on important issues across the United Kingdom.
Charles Kennedy’s voice and his cheerful and gentle optimism will be sorely missed."
From Jade O'Neil (Candidate for Glasgow North, GE2015):
"A few weeks after moving to Scotland at 18, I was invited to an event with Charles Kennedy. I nearly didn't go ("nothing to wear!") but I thought it'd be a fun story if nothing else so I grabbed a way-too-short but smartish dress and jumped on the Subway just in time to get there and I don't think it's overly dramatic to suggest that my life changed that day. I wish I could remember all the words he said because I recall them being witty, wise, and at times profound, but all I remember now is him speaking in a passionate and inspiring (yet human and 'real') way that really sparked something inside me. I had a chat with him after the event and he was so gentle and easy to speak to. 2 weeks later I was an intern with the local campaign office and I've been a proud, active Lib Dem since.
I've had a few chats with Charles over the years, each as enjoyable and engaging as the first; always with a warm smile and something interesting to say. I can't even begin to imagine how many people have these little yet life-changing stories about him; party members, students at GU, the constituents whom he served so well for so long and, of course, his friends and family who have all my condolences on this truly tragic day. The world is poorer this morning without you, Charlie K. RIP."
Charles Kennedy flanked by Jade O'Neil (then Holden) and James Harrison, with other members of GULD, October 2009
From James Harrison (Candidate, Glasgow North West, GE2015; former President, Glasgow University Liberal Democrats):
"I first met Charles in 2007 while I was in the first year of my degree at the University of Glasgow, and I was starstruck. I became a Liberal Democrat because of Charles Kennedy. His courageous leadership of the campaign against the Iraq War galvanised a nation that was opposed to it, and he inspired me and many others to become involved with the Liberal Democrats.
While I was on the committee for Glasgow University Liberal Democrats, Charles was always willing to lend his support to the society by appearing at our events on campus. Our "Tea with Charles Kennedy" event regularly attracted new members, many of whom have gone on to become parliamentary candidates themselves!
I was then twice on his campaign team when he successfully stood to be Glasgow University Rector. And I subsequently worked with him for 2 years while I served on the executive of the Students Representative Council at the university from 2011 to 2013 (as vice president, then President).
Charles was always very kind and was dedicated to his role as Rector. I remember how much he inspired the new students each year as he delivered his welcome address in the Bute Hall every Freshers' Week. He inspired the students to work hard, but more importantly to enjoy their experience at the university he loved so well. It was a privilege to know him and I am utterly heartbroken by the news."