Charles Kennedy: A political contact and a chum

Charles Kennedy in the Commons
Former MP Charles Kennedy spoke to the BBC before May's election as part of a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the House of Commons

Anecdotes and wry observations spilled from Charles Kennedy. He had an acute intelligence and a thoroughgoing comprehension of contemporary politics. But his style was frequently conversational and companionable, rather than didactic or driven.

At the recent Scottish conference of his party, he shared a few yarns in a vintage performance. He recalled the period when he was nearing the end of his career at Glasgow University.

His tutor, apparently, was a mite apprehensive. Young Kennedy was a notably bright chap - but what was he going to do with his ability? Kennedy Jr suggested he might fancy academica or - if all else failed - he could try politics.

Only a very short time later, he did indeed try politics, standing in a Highland seat against an established and respected Conservative Government Minister, Hamish Gray. To general surprise, Charles Kennedy succeeded, taking the seat at the age of 23.

The response from his erstwhile tutor? He wrote a letter of congratulations, opening along the lines of: "I presume all else failed……"

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Fishing for answers at FMQs

Nicola Sturgeon
Ms Sturgeon faced questions on exams, childcare, the police, the Scotland Bill and fish

Nicola Sturgeon seemed a mite disconcerted at Holyrood today. Only for a moment, mind, and not during any of her exchanges with opposition leaders.

To be clear, those conversations were robust enough. Decidedly so, in fact. Serious scrutiny on serious topics: exams, child care and police operations.

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Time to speak at FMQs

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell told the Holyrood chamber: "I'm haverin' so I'll sit down."

As I recall, one of the finest contributions to Scottish Parliamentary discourse came from the former First Minister Jack, now Lord, McConnell.

His answer to a question in the chamber - the old one up the hill, that is, not the new one - was slowly approximating to a conclusion.

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What now for Scottish Labour?

Kezia Dugdale and Jim Murphy arrived at a meeting of Scottish Labour's ruling body
Kezia Dugdale and Jim Murphy arrived at a meeting of Scottish Labour's ruling body

Over the weekend, it was possible to discern two competing views about Jim Murphy's resignation as leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Only two? OK, two broad groupings then.

Life in the People's Party is thus somewhat troubled, especially as the People in question are rather fewer in number than previously.

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Caution on both sides at first meeting of Cameron and Sturgeon

cameron sturgeon

David Cameron has long since learned, like other prime ministers before him, to tread warily in dealing with the miasma of constitutional, electoral and strategic issues which comprise the body politic in Scotland.

So it was again today when he met Nicola Sturgeon in Bute House. And yet there is caution too on the first minister's side.

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Facing the Dugdale Dilemma at FMQs

Kezia Dugdale
Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale suggested that Scotland's colleges had been under-funded

Today's plaudits for perseverance go to Kezia Dugdale. Her Scottish Labour Party neared annihilation at the UK election just a week ago. All around her a clamour of party voices - some angry, some conciliatory, all anxious.

But still there is the day job. Questioning Nicola Sturgeon upon her record in office. Ms Dugdale contrived to do so without mentioning that election result. Plainly sensing an oversight, Ms Sturgeon mentioned it for her.

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Another voice joins the 'go Jim' chorus

Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy says he will continue as leader despite losing 40 Scottish seats - including his own - at last week's general election

Alex Rowley is a Holyrood new boy, entering parliament via a by-election in January last year. But he is very far from a beginner in Labour politics. He has been at various times a council leader, the party's general secretary in Scotland and a senior aide to Gordon Brown.

So, when he says that Jim Murphy should quit as Scottish Labour leader, he commands a degree of attention.

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The SNP's gradual approach begins

The Saltire
The Saltire was flying in Westminster as new MPs gathered to begin work

So where now? Politics never stands still and so progress, momentum and altered perspective there must be.

The election result in Scotland was apocalyptic, revolutionary even. A popular insurrection, throwing off the previously established pattern of Scotland's contribution to UK politics.

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Apocalypse now...what next?

Silhouette of Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Of all the comments on the overnight apocalypse, undoubtedly the most straightforward came from a defeated Scottish Labour MP.

Since there were quite a few of them, let me narrow the focus a little. Come on down, Tom Harris.

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Election 2015 updates and analysis


Shock as a Scottish seat fails to go SNP. Alistair Carmichael wins Orkney and Shetland.

Read full article Election 2015 updates and analysis