Tributes roll in to Charles Kennedy who has died, aged 55

Charles Kennedy, who has died at the age of 55, has been described as “immensely courageous” and “one of the great talents of his political generation” by colleagues and friends.

Those who worked alongside and admired Kennedy have been paying their tributes to the former Lib Dem leader this morning, after his sudden death at home last night.

In a statement, the family said: “It is with great sadness, and an enormous sense of shock, that we announce the death of Charles Kennedy.

“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, former Lib Dem leader

“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 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.”

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb

“He was one of the great talents of his political generation - a wonderful communicator, a fundamentally decent man, never lost his cool. I spent a lot of time working with him. [He] never got angry with people but was immensely persuasive and he will be known, for example, for his stand against the Iraq war.”

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown

“He reached beyond the narrow circle of politics and touched people in ordinary life. That is why he was so loved. He was a great orator. He had the ability to move people. His most significant moment undoubtedly was when he went against the political establishment and led the Liberal Democrats into opposition against the Iraq War. History will judge him right on that.

“He had his difficulties, he had his demons. We all do. But the question is can you rise above them. Yes, he did. He had a very difficult last few months. He lost his seat, he lost his father. But he rose above that. On form and on song, he was the best of us by a mile.”

Prime Minister David Cameron

Former Labour strategist Alastair Campbell

Charles Kennedy was a lovely man, and a highly talented politician. These are the kind of words that always flow when public figures die, often because people feel they have to say those things, and rightly they are flowing thick and fast today as we mourn an important public figure, and a little bit of hypocrisy from political foes is allowed. But when I say that Charles was a lovely man and a talented politician, I mean it with all my heart.”

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron

“Charles was a friend, colleague and personal mentor. I am desperately saddened by news of his death this morning. His gentle good humour, combined with real courage, enabled him to engage with people who might otherwise have had little interest in politics, and he gave voice to the views of millions as the only mainstream party leader to oppose the Iraq war. His loss will be sorely felt today.”

Former colleague Lembit Opik

His former colleague had hoped Kennedy would get into the House of Lords: “When he lost his seat, I said to people - as recently as last night - this guy has got to get in the House of Lords because he has spent 32 years of a 55-year existence in Parliament.

“Without that support, he is in real danger of dying. We talked about it as openly as that. I was really concerned, because that was the support mechanism for him.”

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair

“Charles’ death is an absolute tragedy. He came into Parliament at the same time as me in 1983. He was throughout his time a lovely, genuine and deeply committed public servant. As leader of the Liberal Democrats, we worked closely together and he was always great company, with a lively and inventive mind. I am very saddened indeed by this news.”

Sir Malcolm Bruce, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats

“Most of the time he was fine, he was the old Charles. I don’t think we were expecting that. The thing people remember about Charles is he was able to bring such a light touch to politics.

“All of us really want people to reflect on what we’ve lost - a politician of his own type and quite unusual among other politicians.”

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

Former deputy leader of the Labour Party, John Prescott

Former Conservative leader William Hague

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

UKIP leader Nigel Farage

Conservative MP Eric Pickles

One final tribute

 

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