UK Politics

Charles Kennedy 'brought different style of politics'

Charles Kennedy Image copyright PA
Image caption Charles Kennedy in 2001 celebrating the best general election result for any third party at the time since 1923

Charles Kennedy was one of the most influential politicians of his generation. He led the Liberal Democrats to their best ever election result in 2005, carved out a distinctive position for his party on the left of British politics and perhaps most significantly ensured his party was at the forefront of opposition to the Iraq War.

Charles Kennedy also brought a different style of politics to Westminster; more informal; relaxed and outgoing; generous to opponents, warm to friends and not one for the more bitter, dark arts of politics.

He was a politician as much at ease in the television studios as in the Commons Chamber and struck a chord with the public in an age when politicians were more reserved and removed.


Charles Kennedy: 1959-2015

Image copyright Various

By Nick Robinson, BBC political editor

Charles Kennedy left a mark on British politics. The man who took his party to its electoral peak, he was the only UK party leader to warn the country of the perils of invading Iraq when Labour and the Conservatives were uniting to support it.

He was also the only Liberal Democrat MP who could not bring himself to vote to form a coalition with the Conservatives.

But British politics also left its mark on him. Elected at the age of just 23, politics and the House of Commons became his life whilst alcohol was his friend, his prop and his curse.

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He sought to fashion a different way of doing politics: "The Lib Dems are nobody's poodles.... but we're not rottweilers either. We don't savage on command. That's the old politics."

Never the most organised of politicians, he found the business of leadership more onerous and that, coupled with his drinking problems fuelled disquiet within the Parliamentary party that was eventually to lead to his toppling in 2006.

Uncomfortable with the coalition with the Conservatives, in recent years he became a more distant figure at Westminster, but as a committed pro-European who was never shy of making he case for Europe he had hoped to take a prominent role in the forthcoming EU referendum campaign.

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Media captionA look back at Charles Kennedy's life in politics

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