Tag Archives: charles kennedy

Video: Charles Kennedy’s 30 years of service to the Highlands

Charles Kennedy’s team has put together a video of pictures from his 32 years as an MP. When I first watched it the other day, It actually made me cry when I watched it. That’s not just because it scares me to be old enough to remember things that happened three decades ago. It was quite something for me, growing up in Caithness, to have someone just 7 years older than me elected in the next constituency.

During the 1984 European election campaign, Charles Kennedy, Alan Beith and Bob Maclennan held a public meeting in Wick to support Russell Johnston’s campaign for the European Parliament. As the youngest member of the local SDP by some margin, I was invited to deliver the Vote of Thanks at the end of this meeting. It was one of my first ever public speeches and one which is probably not worth remembering. Before the meeting I was invited to High Tea at a local hotel with all the speakers. All my contemporaries at that time were mad on Wham, but I was completely starstruck by Russell and Charles.That was the same campaign I got into big trouble for inadvertently propping up a Russell leaflet on my windowsill. My parents were none too impressed when they discovered it after about a week of it being there. Funnily enough, my nephew tried the same trick (sadly for a different party) recently with similar results.

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Bizarre headline of the day

Lib Dems enlist drunk raccoon

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That’s not how we used to do politics in the Highlands: SNP candidate takes supporters on aggressive visit to Charles Kennedy’s office

The very first election I was ever involved in was in 1983 in Caithness & Sutherland. It was the first election since Bob Maclennan had left the Labour Party and was standing for the SDP/Liberal Alliance. It’s fair to say that there was a bit of bad blood from his former Labour colleagues. Not once, though, do I remember them coming round mob-handed and shouting at the people in our office. Their aggression was limited to filthy looks at hustings.

What on earth has happened to the peaceable Highlands?  I’ve just been speaking to members of Charles Kennedy’s team in his office in Fort William. They told me how the SNP candidate for the area, Ian Blackford, stormed in this morning with 4 supporters and shouted at everyone, wagging his finger at a member of staff. If he’d tried to do that at the doctor’s surgery or to a member of Scotrail staff, for example, he’d have found himself in big trouble. Why, then, did he think it was acceptable to treat young people in that way?

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Condolences to Charles Kennedy and his family

The Lib Dems are more of a family than a political party. When one of our number is going through hard times, we all feel for them.

It was incredibly sad to see from Twitter this morning that Charles Kennedy is mourning the loss of his father. Ian Kennedy died last night.

We send our love, sympathy and thoughts to Charles and all of his family. I’m sure it’s a sentiment shared by all of our readers.

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Charles Kennedy writes…Time to dig deep and believe

Well, you will have heard it time and time before. Commentators will tell us that we simply cannot win, opposition will tell us that we simply don’t matter. I can tell you, they are all wrong.

This General Election will be the hardest fought in our history. However, there has never been a more important time to stick our head above the parapet and make the unambiguous case for a strong liberal voice in politics. I for one am up for the challenge.

I have been an MP for over 30 years (a point my campaign team like to emphasise more than I). I am often asked what motivates me to stay the course. My motivation is straight forward; my motivation is to fight on the issues that matter for the people of Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

In Ross, Skye and Lochaber it is a two horse race between myself and the SNP. The race is between two competing views of the world. Indeed, our views on the NHS contrasts the options well.

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LDVideo: Charles Kennedy visits a primary school

Charles Kennedy by Catch21productionsCharles Kennedy recently visited a primary school in Ilford to talk about his life as an MP. Both he and the children seem to have enjoyed his visit.

The Ilford Recorder has the details:

Kennedy, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said he thoroughly enjoyed answering questions on his role.

“I have for some time been looking forward to visiting Winston Way Primary School and I am very grateful for the invitation to do so.

“Indeed, the pupils must have done their homework as the quality of questioning far outstretched what we often see in the House of Commons itself.”

He also added: “Engaging young people in politics is so important.

“To take an interest at a young age means there is a far better chance of taking an interest come the time young people can vote. That can only be a good thing.

There’s also a video, also available here on You Tube.

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Ashcroft polls predict SNP gains – including Bob Smith and Charles Kennedy’s seats – but don’t panic yet

If tonight’s Ashcroft polls are worrying for Liberal Democrats, they will be petrifying for the Labour Party – and not just in Scotland where their new leader Jim Murphy’s seat is on a knife edge. Of the eight Scottish seats polled, six are predicted at this stage to go to the SNP. These include the seats of Liberal Democrats Bob Smith and Charles Kennedy. The loss of these  north east and highland heartlands would be a massive blow to the party.  You can see the figures in this table:

Ashcroft polls 4 March 2015

The race in Charles’ seat is pretty close, with just 5 points between Charles and the SNP with 22% of a squeezable Labour and Tory vote. It is very clear that this is a two horse race. Labour and Tory voters will have to think about who they want in Parliament to represent them. Do they want the independent minded, popular Charles or an SNP MP who will have to sign up to do exactly what his political masters tell them without criticism.

The situation in West Aberdeenshire is, in this poll, more complex with support apparently split between Liberal Democrat and Conservative. However that rather flies in the face of the Conservative retreat from this constituency. You would think that they would have some reason for making that decision. The Tories know that they can’t win. I suspect that Bob Smith will be making sure that everyone knows there is simply no point in voting Tory and he will pick up enough of their vote to hang on.

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Snapshots from the Lib Dem campaign trail

Lib Dems being out campaigning is such a normal thing – we have always been proud of our all year round work ethic. So what have our councillors and candidates been up to this weekend?

It seems to have been lovely weather everywhere:

Martin Horwood and his team were out in his Cheltenham constituency:

But, look, how sweet is this? He still found time to remember someone special:

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16 and 17 year olds in England and Wales have every right to be disappointed

This week the Scottish Parliament and Westminster both pass a Section 30 Order. Section 30 is the bit of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows powers to be given from Westminster to Holyrood. Two years ago a Section 30 Order gave the Scottish Government the power to hold the referendum on independence. This week’s transfers the power to the Scottish Parliament to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the next Holyrood elections which take place in May 2016. It will have to be confirmed by the Privy Council in March but that’s just a formality.

This means that young people in Scotland will have a say on the way their health, education, transport, justice and housing systems are run. We know that giving young people the vote was a massive success in the referendum. My heart swelled up seeing them head into the polling station with real excitement and pride on 18th September. There is surely no excuse for denying them the say at any level. Scottish 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote at Holyrood and local elections – but when it comes to Westminster, they will have no say. Of course this could all change if the next Parliament legislates. They surely can have no excuse to delay.

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Five posts to sum up January 2014

Charles KennedyOver the next few days, we’ll remind you of five posts from each month, to give you a flavour of what was in the minds of LDV readers and contributors in what proved to be a gruelling and often bruising political year. 

1 January 2014 was the day we were going to be overwhelmed every single Romanian and Bulgarian coming here. We would all turn up to work the next day to find out we’d been replaced. They’d be hiding everywhere, even in our bread bins. Or so Farage would have had us believe, anyway. Remember all those very amusing posts on social media, with people saying things like “Just popping out to the pub, but can’t get past the crowds of Romanians and Bulgarians”.  It might have been funny for those few hours, but the reality is that parties which peddle the migrant-bashing line seem to be in the majority at the moment. If that isn’t a call for liberals to remember who the enemy is (clue: not each other), then I don’t know what is.

On New Year’s Day itself, Charles Kennedy summed up the challenges of the year ahead. 2014, he said, was not for the politically timid

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Five party leaders at the funeral of Jeremy Thorpe

Paddy Ashdown, Nick Clegg, David Steel, Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell attend the funeral of former Liberal Party party leader Jeremy Thorpe at Saint Margaret’s Church on December 17, 2014 in Westminster. The eagle-eyed will also spot Tim Farron on the right.

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Charles Kennedy launches new Liberal Democrat Poster van tour “Why would we walk away?”

Charles Kennedy poster launch

 

 

In Glasgow this morning, Charles Kennedy launched a new Liberal Democrat poster campaign reminding people of the good things that the UK has created together. Why would you walk away? is its theme. 

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Charles Kennedy: No with a purpose and a future

I’ve been saying for months that someone should sit Charles Kennedy down on a sofa and film him talking about the referendum. And last week, somebody finally did. This is the first excerpt and it’s very good. Enjoy – and share widely. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in the referendum, everyone loves Charles…

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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Scotland’s energy considerations benefit from the UK

Photo of loch Sloy hydro electric scheme by paul walterCharles Kennedy is one of a handful of politicians on the pro-UK side never to have put a foot wrong in the independence debate. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale, always passionate on feminism and social justice is another. Better Together could do a lot worse than leaving all the talking to them for the next 12 days.

On his own website, Charles has written a typically thoughtful article about Scotland’s energy needs, what we gain from being part of the UK and how independence would affect us.

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Opinion: Charles Kennedy asks “What should we tell the Scots?”

September 14th "Welcome to Scotland"On Monday I received an e-mail from Charles Kennedy and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. It asked Lib Dems across the UK to help the No campaign by completing a brief survey entitled,”What do you think we should be telling voters in Scotland?” The survey was indeed brief (3 questions), and the answers were pre-loaded, so I thought that I would compose my own response to my fellow Scots.

The preamble to the Liberal Democrat Federal Constitution states that ‘we look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely.’

photo by: amandabhslater
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And the winner of the referendum debate was…….Charles Kennedy

Charles indyrefI’m sure we all remember THAT debate on Monday night between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond. It was what we call in Scotland a right  rammy. Two men standing up on stage shouting at each other has typified the independence debate has generally been going on up here. It’s not edifying. I took part in STV’s live blog of the event and you can see my take on it here.

Although Salmond is widely judged to have won the debate, the pivotal moment came when he laughed at me. Well, not actually at me, but at anyone who wants reassurance that we’re not risking higher interest rates or economic instability over the fundamental issue of the currency. When Alistair Darling, on behalf of people with those concerns, continued to question he First Minister on the risks that sterlingisation would put us under, and to challenge the wisdom of not taking a share of the UK’s debt, Salmond laughed. In a very sneery way. And then he called Darling a One Trick Pony. You know, when you’re trying to persuade people to trust you and make the massive change you want, you need to show you understand their concerns and address them, not treat them with contempt. It’s no wonder that the main theme in my Facebook was that people were fed up and were switching off.

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Lib Dem party membership: the occasional ups and mostly downs since 1988

The Lib Dems published the party’s 2013 accounts this week. The report included the latest membership figures, which showed for the first time since 2010 an increase on the previous year’s: up 2% to 43,451. Here are the Lib Dem membership figures since the modern party’s formation as the successor to the Liberal Party and SDP in 1988:

lib dem membership figs since 1988 - as at july 2014

For interest’s sake, here’s the increase/decrease in party membership under each leader:

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Charles Kennedy: Independence would “inflict huge damage” on rural Scotland

Charles Kennedy is not one for the sort of sloppy, casual scaremongering we’ve seen from both sides in the Scottish independence debate. Danny Alexander has form for it, saying, unhelpfully,  the other day that independence would be worse for Scotland than the 2008 economic crash. So when he expresses concerns about stuff, we should probably take notice.

He will be talking today about the effects of independence on rural Scotland, like the massive area he represents. He’s particularly concerned with the costs of providing the postal service.

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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Why our destiny must lie with the F word

Charles KennedyThe Independence Referendum campaign continues to be depressing. The only really good things associated with it tend to come from Liberal Democrats and most especially Charles Kennedy. He’s written a thoughtful and persuasive article in the Herald about the dilemma facing Scotland beyond 18th September as, whoever wins, we’ve all lost out from increasing centralism to Edinburgh in recent years.

He outlines the problem:

In the pre-devolution days of one- party Tory domination there was much legitimate railing against the excessive concentration of power within Whitehall. The centre accrued and amassed while

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Charles Kennedy: I miss being Rector of Glasgow University more than I missed being Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Charles KennedyLast week, Charles Kennedy spoke in Liverpool as part of the Liverpool John Moore University’s Roscoe series of lectures. His subject was the ongoing debate on Scottish independence and his comments were, as you would expect,  enlightening, in fact one of the most enlightening moments of the debate so far. The bar isn’t that high, but Charles’ lecture is actually very good. Here are some of the highlights.

He started off by referring to his 6 years as Rector of Glasgow University, saying that he misses it more than he missed being leader of the Liberal Democrats. He also remembered being told off by a Professor in his own university days for that typical student politico offence of not actually going to any questions. Discussing career options, the academic said to Charles:

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LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Britain must remain at the core of the European Project

Charles KennedyIn an article for the Euro Blog marking Europe Day yesterday, Charles Kennedy wrote of the need for Britain to stay at the heart of Europe.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the jobs and the trade and the money, but Charles starts with the principles of peace and the common good:

9 May marks the beginning of a process of cooperation, which intended to make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. We call it Europe Day The process that was set in motion that day was based on principles like democracy, open markets,

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Charles Kennedy pays tribute to Tom MacIver, Scotland’s oldest man and founder of Ross-shire Liberals

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 14.05.04Scotland’s oldest man, Tom MacIver died last Friday at the age of 106. He was a very significant figure in the Highlands and actually founded the Ross-shire Liberal Party way back in 1959. He remained active until relatively recently. He was awarded the MBE for services to politics.

He was a very important player in Charles Kennedy’s election campaigns and was known to ease tensions during those sometimes fraught years of the Alliance. He was a teacher by profession and also wrote a book, Croft Remote, about growing up on a remote Wester Ross farm during the First World War.

Charles paid a generous tribute to him in the Ross-Shire Journal:

Tom’s death is incredibly sad for me, as along with a small handful of people such as John Farquhar Munro and the late Harry Miller, Tom was absolutely crucial to my success in my first election in 1983,” he said.

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Better Together lets some of Willie’s “sunshine strategy” burst through

Better Together, the cross-party campaign for retaining the United Kingdom, must have been listening to LDV’s co-editor, Caron Lindsay (always a sensible precaution, we find…). Just a few weeks ago she cautioned against the deluge of negativity that seemed to be the No campaign’s main message:

Charles Kennedy was bang on last week when he said that the pro-UK campaign needed to be more positive. He could do with being a bit more explicit about what he thinks they should be saying. And then he needs to sit Alistairs Darling and Carmichael, Danny, Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader and Nick down and tell them. For the sake of the UK, they need to listen. Better Together is in desperate need of an injection of wit and warmth and not much time to do it in.

Here, then, is the new Better Together advert. Maybe not much wit, but a whole lot more warmth:

better together ad

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#NickvNigel: Charles Kennedy: I couldn’t get the Liberal Democrats to fight a pro-European campaign

Charles KennedyThis morning, Charles Kennedy went on the Today programme to talk about tonight’s debate.

There was just a trace of frustration in his voice as he remembered that he, as a “down the line unashamed unalloyed pro-European” he couldn’t get the party to campaign on that basis, so when Nick took the initiative:

I was absolutely delighted and f I’d been in his shoes I’d have taken the same initiative but I might have been blocked or thwarted.

We are the down the line pro-European party and Nigel is the direct opposite. It’s

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Danny, please listen to Charles Kennedy before you write about the Independence Referendum again

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TDanny Alexander’s article on the Independence Referendum in yesterday’s Sunday Times (£) was, for me, a frustrating read. If I’m honest, it was actually like nails being dragged down a blackboard.  Full of language like damaging, devastating and divorce, t is absolutely not what we need at this stage of the campaign. He even brought in the spectre of not being able to sustain the NHS in an independent Scotland. 

A poll published in yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday

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Charles Kennedy: Pro UK campaign needs to be more positive

Charles KennedyCharles Kennedy has made a welcome intervention in the debate on Scottish independence. As far as the Better Together campaign is concerned, he’s quite off message. I suspect Liberal Democrats will feel that his comments needed saying and deliver a much-needed kick up the backside to the pro-UK organisation.

I very rarely share Better Together social media stuff because it’s only rarely that I see something that my friends will actually appreciate. The campaign generally gives off an air of dourness that doesn’t even connect with its own activists. They might well have bought into the idea that negative campaigning is effective, and while the polls are still in their favour, they will see no reason to change.

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Charles Kennedy’s tribute to “Highland Champion” John Farquhar Munro

John F and Charles KWhen Charles Kennedy was elected MP for the then Ross, Cromarty and Skye in 1983, John Farquhar Munro, the former MSP who died at the age of 79 on Sunday, was one of his key supporters. A friendship that would last more than 30 years was forged. Charles has paid tribute to him.

John’s passing is very sad not only for all his former constituents who he represented so ably for many years, but also for the wider Highlands and islands, where he was seen as a champion.

Since

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New Year reflections from Charles Kennedy: 2014 is not for the politically timid

Locally and nationally 2014 is going to be a decisive one – not just for us Liberal Democrats but for Scotland, the UK and the European Union as a whole.

It is going to be the most overwhelmingly political calendar year in the experience of most political participants. I believe that we are about to live through a period quite without precedent since 1974 – the year which saw two general elections. And its impact will be even more far reaching.

Both the European elections and the Scottish independence referendum offer us Liberal Democrats two pivotal platforms upon which to convey what, …

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Tim Farron “set to vote against the “Bedroom Tax” while Swales, Mulholland, R Williams and Sanders table motion against it

From the Guardian‘s live politics blog (3:15)

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, is set to vote against the government on the bedroom tax tonight, I’m told. A friend of Farron’s tells me: “Party conference in Glasgow expressed its will very strongly against the bedroom tax and so Tim is listening to party members and will probably be voting against the government tonight. Tim is the voice of the party members, they have expressed their view and Tim wants to make sure that their voice is heard.”

Here’s the motion on the bedroom tax that the Lib Dems passed at their party

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Phil Bennion MEP writes: Manufacturers say Britain must stay in the EU

 EU flag - Some rights reserved by European ParliamentOn Monday, the UK’s manufacturing sector gave us a clear message. In Europe, in work. In a landmark report by the EEF, a trade association representing 6000 companies, manufacturers emphasised the importance of being part of the EU for their exports and business plans. 85% of firms surveyed would vote to remain in the EU.  One third said that they would be less likely to increase investment in Britain if we were to leave the EU.

Politicians across the political spectrum

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