Scotland politics

Life in pictures: Charles Kennedy

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has died at his home in Scotland aged 55.

He was born in Inverness and grew up in a remote crofter's cottage in the Highlands. He was educated at Lochaber High School - where at 15 he joined the Labour Party - and at Glasgow University.

A young Mr Kennedy had political ambitions, joining the Dialectic Society, a debating society; becoming president of the union in 1980; and joining the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

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He became the youngest MP of the time, at the age of 23, when he won the Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat in 1983.

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He was at the forefront of the calls for a merger with the Liberal Party and negotiated much of the successful deal.

Later, Mr Kennedy supported Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown's attempts to form an alliance with the Labour Party, based around a shared commitment to electoral reform and Europe.

But as soon as he became leader, Mr Kennedy set about uncoupling from Labour.

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He was elected leader of the party in 1999, aged just 39. He said he wanted to make the Liberal Democrats a party of government, by building its strength on local councils and in the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales.

Mr Kennedy was a witty figure, more than capable of holding his own on television panel games such as Have I Got News for You. He was even nicknamed "Chatshow Charlie".

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He married public relations executive Sarah Gurling in 2002, with this seen by many in the party as a sign he was "settling down".

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His son Donald was born during the 2005 general election campaign. He took a few days off then returned to the campaign trail with "a song in my heart and a spring in my step".

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In 2005, Mr Kennedy took the deliberate decision to campaign against the war in Iraq when both Tony Blair and Conservative leader Michael Howard were saying it was right to go to war.

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After the 2005 election, Mr Kennedy's leadership came under increased criticism from those who felt the party could have surged forward.

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Mr Kennedy announced his resignation as party leader in January 2006, two days after admitting he had a drink problem.

In his resignation speech he said he did not expect to remain on the Liberal Democrat frontbench team and pledged his loyalty to a new leader "as a backbencher".

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During the 2015 general election campaign in May, Mr Kennedy was on the campaign trail, here with Jo Swinson, the candidate for East Dunbartonshire.

However, Mr Kennedy lost his Ross, Skye and Lochaber seat - which he had held for 32 years - to the SNP. He described the defeat as "the night of long skean dhus".

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