50 Facts About Charles Kennedy


Charles Peter Kennedy was a British politician who served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006, and was the Member of Parliament for Ross, Skye and Lochaber from 1983 to 2015.


Charles Kennedy led the party in the 2001 and 2005 general elections, increasing its number of seats in the House of Commons to their highest level since 1923, and led his party's opposition to the Iraq War.


Charles Kennedy died less than a month after being unseated from the House of Commons in 2015.


Charles Kennedy was born on 25 November 1959 in the Scottish Highlands town of Inverness, the son of Mary and Ian Charles Kennedy, and grew up in a remote crofter's cottage in the Highlands.


Charles Kennedy had a Roman Catholic upbringing, and was educated at Lochaber High School in Fort William.


Charles Kennedy went on to study for a Master of Arts degree in Politics and Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.


Charles Kennedy first became politically active at university, where he joined the SDP as well as the Dialectic Society.

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Between 1980 and 1981, Charles Kennedy was President of the Glasgow University Union.


Charles Kennedy won the Observer Mace debating competition in 1982, speaking with Clark McGinn.


Charles Kennedy later received a Fulbright Fellowship which allowed him to carry out research at Indiana University in the United States.


Charles Kennedy won the seat with 13,528 votes and a majority of 1,704, unseating the incumbent Gray.


Charles Kennedy was, at the age of 23, the youngest sitting Member of Parliament at the time he was elected to the House of Commons.


Charles Kennedy served on the Social Services select committee from 1985 to 1987, retained his seat at the 1987 general election, and served on the Televising of Proceedings of the House select committee from 1987 to 1989.


Charles Kennedy was the first of the five SDP MPs to support its merger with the Liberal Party because of pressure from Liberal activists in his constituency.


The parties merged in 1988, forming the Social and Liberal Democratic Party, later renamed the Liberal Democrats; Charles Kennedy was a proponent of the merge.


Charles Kennedy moved into frontbench politics in 1989, becoming the party's spokesperson for health.


Charles Kennedy retained his seat in the 1997 general election and served on the Standards and Privileges select committee from 1997 to 1999.


Charles Kennedy was president of the Liberal Democrats from 1990 to 1994, and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the office of the Leader of the House of Commons from 1997 to 1999.


Charles Kennedy was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats on 9 August 1999, following the retirement of Paddy Ashdown.


Charles Kennedy was labelled "Chatshow Charlie" by some observers as a result of his appearances on the satirical panel game Have I Got News for You.


The Times published an apology over a report it had made stating Charles Kennedy had not taken part in that year's Budget debate because of excessive drinking.


At the manifesto launch, on his first day back on the campaign trail after the birth, Charles Kennedy struggled to remember the details of a key policy at an early morning press conference, which he later blamed on a lack of sleep due to his new child.


The Liberal Democrats hoped to capture marginal Labour seats, attracting Labour voters who were dissatisfied because of the invasion of Iraq, which Charles Kennedy's party had opposed.


Charles Kennedy heralded the Liberal Democrats, who now had a total of 62 seats, as the "national party of the future", but in the wake of the general election, Charles Kennedy's leadership came under increased criticism from those who felt that the Liberal Democrats could have surged forward, with the official opposition Conservative Party having been relatively weak.


Many pointed the finger of blame at Charles Kennedy for failing to widen the party's appeal.

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Speculation surrounding the leadership of the Liberal Democrats was widespread in late 2005, with the journalist Andrew Neil claiming to speak "on good authority" that Charles Kennedy would announce his resignation at the 2006 spring conference of the Liberal Democrats.


Charles Kennedy's spokeswoman denied the report and complained against the BBC, which had broadcast it.


On 6 January 2006, Charles Kennedy was informed that ITN would be reporting that he had received treatment for a drinking problem.


Charles Kennedy decided to pre-empt the broadcast, called a sudden news conference, and made a personal statement that over the past eighteen months he had been coming to terms with a drinking problem, but had sought professional help.


Charles Kennedy told reporters that recent questions among his colleagues about his suitability as leader were partly as a result of the drinking problem but stated that he had been dry for the past two months and would be calling a leadership contest, in which he would stand, to resolve the issues surrounding his authority once and for all.


On 7 January 2006, Charles Kennedy called another press conference, at which he announced that while he was buoyed by the supportive messages he had received from grass root members, he felt that he could not continue as leader because of the lack of confidence from the parliamentary party.


Charles Kennedy said he would not be a candidate in the leadership election and was standing down as leader "with immediate effect", with Menzies Campbell to act as interim leader until a new leader was elected.


Charles Kennedy confirmed in his resignation statement that he did not expect to remain on the Liberal Democrat frontbench team.


Charles Kennedy pledged his loyalty to a new leader as a backbencher, and said he wished to remain active in the party and in politics.


Campbell went on to win the resulting leadership election, and Charles Kennedy subsequently gave his successor full public support.


Charles Kennedy's leadership had lasted slightly less than six years and five months.


On 22 June 2006, Charles Kennedy made his first appearance in the national media after stepping down as party leader when he appeared on the BBC's Question Time.


Charles Kennedy contributed an article covering the same issues to The Guardians Comment Is Free section.


At the 2010 general election, Charles Kennedy was re-elected to parliament with a majority of 13,070.


The media reported on 21 August 2010 that Charles Kennedy was about to defect from the Liberal Democrats to Labour in protest against his party's role in the coalition government's public spending cuts, but the Liberal Democrats were swift to deny these reports.


Charles Kennedy played a role in the cross-party Better Together campaign, which was the pro-union campaign for the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.


In March 2014, The Sunday Post reported that Charles Kennedy had criticised Labour's strategy in the referendum campaign and said that Better Together needed to consider its legacy.


Charles Kennedy lost his seat at the 2015 general election to Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party, amid a nationwide loss of 49 seats by the Liberal Democrats.


In February 2008, Charles Kennedy was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow and was officially installed, succeeding Mordechai Vanunu, on 10 April 2008.


Charles Kennedy served six years as rector until Edward Snowden was elected in February 2014.

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Charles Kennedy died on the evening of 1 June 2015 at his home in Fort William at the age of 55.


Charles Kennedy's death was announced in the early hours of the following day.


In July 2002, Charles Kennedy married Sarah Gurling, the sister of his friend James Gurling.


Charles Kennedy had been a brewery worker but a lifelong teetotaller.


Charles Kennedy had chosen a recording of his father's fiddle playing when he appeared on Desert Island Discs.