Charles Kennedy writes… The night of the long sgian dubhs

I am very fond of political history. If nothing else, we can all reflect on and perhaps tell our grandchildren that we were there on “The night of long sgian dubhs!”

I would very much like to thank my home team. They have been so energetic, dedicated and selfless to the task. Indeed, with them, I would like to thank the very many over the years who have made possible the previous seven successful general election campaigns locally.

I spare a thought for, and this is true of so many constituencies, for members of staff. It is one thing for elected representatives to find themselves at the mercy of the electorate; it is quite something else for the other loyal and skilled people who, sadly, will in due course be searching for employment. I wish them well and stand ready to help. I am sure that their professionalism will stand them in good stead.

It has been the greatest privilege of my adult and public life to have served, for 32 years, as the Member of Parliament for our local Highlands and Islands communities. I would particularly like to thank the generation of voters, and then some, who have put their trust in me to carry out that role and its responsibilities.

Locally, I wish my successor the very best. The next House of Commons will have to finalise the Smith Commission package, giving effect to the referendum “Vow” over further powers. I am saddened not to be involved in that process.

However, from the perspective of the Highlands & Islands, the case for more powers being returned to us which have been lost to the Central Belt over the past five years, has to be heard as well.

On the national picture, I am indeed sorry to learn of Nick’s decision but respect entirely his characteristic sense of personal, political and party principle.

The eligible candidates must reflect with care and collectively before we rush into the best way forward – out of this political debris we must build with thought and care.

Nick, I do hope, will be able to contribute with gusto to the great European debate which is now looming.

It is one, as a Liberal Democrat, in which I wish to be actively engaged myself.

The next few years in politics will come down to a tale of two Unions – the UK and the EU. Despite all the difficult challenges ahead the Liberal Democrat voice must and will be heard.

We did so over Iraq; we can do so again. Let us relish the prospect.


* Charles Kennedy is the Liberal Democrat candidate in Ross, Skye & Lochaber and was MP until dissolution of Parliament on 30 March 2015

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  • I’m sorry Charles but Clegg is the past, he’s resigned, surely it’s time to move on? Having him be part of the Europe debate, after it went so poorly with Farage last time, just isn’t good strategy. Labour have been tainted in this election because so many of the shadow cabinet were also involved in the cabinets of Blair and Brown and the electorate not seeing much has changed. It’s time to start afresh, and not drag our heels about it – do it!

  • Well said Charles. I wish you all the very best for the future. As a liberal party I hope we encourage all other liberals to get involved – whatever their – and our – mistakes in the past. I hope Nick Clegg will get fully involved in the forthcoming referendum – without the hassles of leadership – I am certain he would be a very effective advocate of staying in.

  • @Alan Gee
    “Having him be part of the Europe debate, after it went so poorly with Farage last time, just isn’t good strategy.”

    100% correct.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 9th May '15 - 12:44pm

    Charles, thank you so much for all you have done over 32 years as MP and as leader. Your election was such an inspiration to me as a 15 year old in the neighbouring constituency. You have taught us all so much over the years and the party owes you so much.

    You did not deserve to lose. When I was ringing round voters in RSL on Thursday afternoon, so many of them had enthusiastically been to vote for you because of what you stood for and what you have done for them. Life isn’t fair sometimes.

    Know that you have many in this party who hold you in the greatest esteem and affection and want to see you help us rebuild.

  • Peter Andrews 9th May '15 - 12:49pm

    Of the many many sad results on Thursday night I was particularly saddened to see Charles lose his seat. He was the Leader when I first joined the party and I believe was a real conviction politician and the commons will be a much poorer place for his absence.

    I hope he does take on a very prominent role in the EU referendum as he always makes a very intelligent and articulate case for our membership of the EU without being uncritical of the flaws the EU undoubtedly has .

  • Ann MacQueen 9th May '15 - 12:58pm

    Thank you for your years of service, I wish you all the best for the future. I hope your successor is as good an MP as you have been .

  • The saddest of the results, I hope he remains on the National scene and regains his seat in the future..

  • Sarah Ludford 9th May '15 - 1:04pm

    Very much agree with David, Caron and Peter, not only thanking Charles for his sterling service and commiserating over the injustice, but indeed welcomig the prospect of his and Nick’s contribution to the Union debates. I will only be involved in the EU one, but Charles as a committed pro-European can hugely help us stress the values and value that EU membership while being unafraid to acknowledge flaws.

  • One of our better results in Scotland from one of our better leaders, Charles!

    I look forward to your future help for the party as you will remain a real asset to the Liberal Democrats.

    Not many people can point to a personal record of 7 general election victories in a row.

    Going on as you did from being a young and popular president of party to being the leader who took the party to the success of electing 62 MPs , was a significant bit of political history.
    Your leadership achieved the best result for the party since Lloyd George.

    Not only that but you know how to spell and pronounce sgian dubhs !

  • Roger Billins 9th May '15 - 1:11pm

    Thank you Charles for your great contribution to liberalism and wish you all the best for the future. No doubt we will be seeing you on a certain programme on Friday nights !

  • “He just he hoped Nick would contribute to the European debate (meaning general public debate not a specific TV programme) with gusto. As a former MEP and current MP with a passion for European matters it would be extremely peculiar for Nick to stick sellotape over his mouth on the subject and Sheffield Hallam voters would have cause for complaint if he did.”

    I didn’t think CK meant Clegg’s constituency when he referred to the great debate, but maybe I’m wrong on that. The Lib Dems should change tactic completely – stop telling people, show them instead. I don’t think Clegg is a credible messenger now in the eyes of the electorate.

  • David Evans 9th May '15 - 1:23pm

    I’m sorry but having Nick saying Stay in Europe will just scupper that campaign and also remind people of what we have hopefully started to move on from. People out there have long memories and we need to make a clean break with the disaster of the last five years. The issue was trust, is trust and will be trust for the next 10 years and more. Those who hanker to justify what they said and did over the last five years will just make our job much harder.

  • Thank you Charles for leading the party so well. So many people who have never voted liberal democrat value your contribution to national life, please continue to be heard and put the case for principled liberalism.

  • Jane Ann Liston 9th May '15 - 1:32pm

    I’d also like to say well done, Charles and I was very sorry you lost. ‘Wae’s me for Prince Charlie’, indeed. I hope you do find another role to play in the party; we need you.

    I also echo your sentiments about the staff who have lost their jobs. Unfortunately, if my experience is anything to go by, their professionalism might not be enough. I lost my job when my MSP boss lost his seat in 2011, and am still unemployed; my latest rejection cited my lack of recent work experience as a reason for my failure to be shortlisted. Let us hope that this will not be the case for those staff members who lost their posts this time.

  • tony dawson 9th May '15 - 1:40pm

    I remember working with Charles, when he was health spokesperson, on targeted mailings to thousands of NHS workers during the Ribble Valley by-election. I remember, too, walking alongside him at the front of the Lib Dem contingency in the Iraq war when the ‘powers that be’ within our party had tried desperately to stop the Lib Dems being involved in this event ‘officially’ and hence reduced our contribution to that event by a massive amount.

    Charles is by far the most inspirational and ‘connected’ Leader that this Party has ever had.

  • The loss of Charles is a tragedy for his constituency, the country and his party.

  • Alex Macfie 9th May '15 - 1:51pm

    Charles, I didn’t vote for you in the leadership election that you won, but you did well for the party, increasing our number of MPs in both general elections in which you were our leader, and I was dismayed when you were (effectively) deposed as it did not seem an appropriate time to change our leader. I feel that the rot that led to Thursday’s rout started back then.

    Like others here, I am concerned about the idea of bringing Clegg into the EU debate; he completely messed it up last time. Not only was a European Parliamentary election completely the wrong forum for a debate on the UK’s future in the EU (MEPs don’t decide whether the UK stays in the EU or even whether we have a referendum, as they legislate for the EU as a whole), but he failed even to call out Farage on a basic falsehood and appeared to be an apologist for the EU status quo. When Farage asserted that the EU was “undemocratic”, Clegg could have countered this by pointing out that they were campaigning in a democratic election to the EU Parliament; moreover, one in which your vote would help decide who became President of the European Commission. He failed even to say that. Of course, he also said he did not support the ALDE candidate for that post, and then appeared to go against the democratic will of the European Parliament by opposing its choice for President. so no, I don’t want him anywhere near the EU Referendum campaign. Better to send him off to Brussels. He’s good at getting things done; not so good at selling a political message.

  • Jane Ann Liston 9th May '15 - 1:52pm

    @Alex Macfie
    ‘I was dismayed when you were (effectively) deposed as it did not seem an appropriate time to change our leader. I feel that the rot that led to Thursday’s rout started back then.’

    Hear, hear!

  • An outstanding politician, who stands head and shoulders above most of the rest,a man of integrity,who was respected across the spectrum.I wish that Charles had been in charge during the last few years and maybe Maggie’s boys would not now be back in town.An eloquent,intelligent man,who would have never resorted to using personal abuse,as the likes of Cameron does, during Prime Ministers Questions ,the old style of politician,a proper straight as a die person, in terms of honesty and sincerity,very genuine and decent.Charles has much more to offer and warmest wishes for the future.

  • Not sure whether that should have been straight as a dye.

  • Charles,

    Thank-you for all you have done for the Liberal movement. I was 18 when the Iraq war began and your leadership has helped make me what I am; a life-long Liberal.

    Your kind words to Nick are a futher mark of your decency and are a great credit to you.

    I sincerely hope that, with time for rest, that you will be soon back fighting for us – whether it may be at Holyrood or Westminster.

  • Gwyn Williams 9th May '15 - 2:11pm

    Thank you Charles. The way to run a successful coalition was laid out by the Scottish Lib Dems. First negotiate a Constitutional Convention with trades unions, churches and the Labour Party achieve the objective including an element of PR in the new Parliament. Govern for 8 years and at the end of it lose 1 seat.

    Clegg has acted as the lightning conductor for public anger over the cuts. Over the next few months a few telling speeches about Tory tax and welfare cuts and his reputation will be substantially restored. By the 2017 referendum ,if it happens, we will be the core of the pro EU campaign.

    Although as they say in the financial adverts past performance is no guide to the future but the devastating blow of 1970 was followed by the success of 1974.; the reaction to the Lib Lab pact of 1979 was followed by 25% in 1983 and the setback of 1992 gave us 47 seats in 1997.

  • Sadie Smith 9th May '15 - 2:16pm

    Best wishes to Charles. I found him to be a really good Party Leader and was dismayed by the successive changes.
    I do regret that he will no longer be in the Commons.
    It was reassuring that his very sane voice will be heard in the Union debates.

  • Oriole Hall 9th May '15 - 2:20pm

    Thank you so much Charles for all your years of service to the Highlands and all you have achieved for us and the country.
    I first t voted foe you when we got rid of Hamish Gray in those dim and distant days….what euphoria there was.
    I remember taking a crowd of my SEN pupils to visit you in the House and the kind considerate way you treated them You always acknowledged them with friendship if they shouted out to you in the street and they all thought the world of you.

    I look forward to following your future and trust it will involve gathering support to keep us in Europe.

  • I was heartbroken by Charles losing his seat, he’s been a political hero of mine for as far back as I can remember. I hope everything goes great for him after Parliament. Ever since he “stepped down” as leader the parties been on the slide IMO, hopefully that’s over now.

    Thanks for everything Charles, especially your independent attitude and ability to say no. It couldn’t of been easy and I’m sure it made you quite an outsider for a while, but we needed people that thought for themselves and Parliament was always a lot richer for your contribution.

  • Charles, you will be missed in the Highlands and also in Westminster. We need people like you – honest, sincere and hard-working. I’m very sad to see the state of the party today, especially after electing 62 MPs in 2005 under your leadership – something that I feel a lot of people forget. As leader, you were universally respected. I have always admired your independent attitude and I think you have been treated poorly by your party over the years, yet, your commitment to your party and constituency has never wavered.

    On a personal level, you were the reason I joined the party back in 2002 and I hope you continue to be involved in politics. Take this time to rest and know that you still have many supporters across the country.

  • David Evans 9th May '15 - 3:58pm

    Paul, it is vital we leave the mess that Nick has created behind right now or we will be dead. Gracious is not what those who left the party in disgust at what Nick was doing need to get them back. And we need them back, all of them and more. You can choose to be nice to the past or build a new future, but with a leader who has trashed the work of 50 years of activists, gratitude is not appropriate. Remember the two men who trashed their party colleagues on a plane trip to Scotland and were overheard by the press. That is the man you supported throughout and the consequences of your actions are clear.

  • I find myself wondering what Charles had just said to result in the picture above.

  • @David-1

    “Aye, we’ll keep 29 seats”.

  • David Evans 9th May '15 - 4:53pm

    Paul, Do really believe you think the press will ignore any chance to big it up and use Nick to hit the campaign and us below the belt? Have you not learned yet how evil they are?

  • @David Evans “evil”? Isn’t that a little hyperbolic?

    The press do what they think will sell the most newspapers

  • Jonathan Pile 9th May '15 - 5:07pm

    also Charles as president of the euro movement would be the rightsbdbdlievable person to voice our views in the referendum .

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 5:18pm

    Paul Walter 9th May ’15 – 4:55pm

    “If you’re saying that the party needs to not have Nick featured as a party spokesperson in the European campaign then I don’t think that is what Charles was talking about and I will keep my powder dry on that point – it is for the future.”

    Considering it was the Tories voting for NC at the behest of Cameron that ensured he kept his seat, or at least avoided a much closer contest and that he paid tribute to NC in his Downing St speech – am I the only one who is concerned that Cameron going to arrange for NC to be given a plum job at the EU?

  • Thank you for everything Charles – especially your 2001 conference speech post 9/11 which fearlessley nailed the parties colours to the civil liberties mast at a time when it would have been easy to vacillate

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 5:47pm

    Paul Walter 9th May ’15 – 5:25pm

    “Did David Cameron ask Tories to vote for Nick in Hallam?”

    Breathtaking’ surge of Tory tactical votes to save Nick Clegg in Hallam – poll

    Keep in mind at that stage of the game it looked as if the Tories were going to get far less seats and the Party far more – and another Tory/LD coalition still quite possible – which was NC’s clear favourite option.

    To keep this option open Cameron needed to ensure that NC kept his seat. I do not think your suggestion is appropriate – more fitting is ‘if the cap fits wear it’. Time will tell if such thoughts are justified.

  • @Paul Walter

    Is this not one of the problems of the liberal image, being wishy washy, too complacent? Tell him it’s in the party’s interest for him not to have a national platform (if that’s what the party decides) and the Lib Dems can get on with things.

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 5:50pm

    Paul Walter 9th May ’15 – 5:43pm
    “I am not going to begrudge Nick doing a job for which he is eminently qualified.
    And if David Evans and Alan Gee do want Nick to be quiet then the most effective way of doing that is to send him off to Brussels for five years to do a job which doesn’t allow him to be involved in domestic politics. I am not advocating such a move necessarily but we need to consider all angles.”

    I thought he had made a promise to work as a hospital porter for the rest of his life if he destroyed the Party – or was it a pledge?

  • Alex Macfie 9th May '15 - 5:54pm

    I think a Brussels job would be one of the best uses of Nick Clegg’s considerable talent. Although the Commission is nominally non-partisan, I suspect he would handle his brief in a way that is in keeping with liberal values. I also think he did a good job in introducing liberalism into UK government. But he was naive and didn’t sell our achievements well or acknowledge that being the junior partner in a coalition government is not the ideal situation and that if we’d been in government on our own we would have done things differently. Good on the “government” side of things, not so good on the “politics”. And in partnership with a party that’s not above playing dirty, that was a fatal weakness.

  • Peter Chegwyn 9th May '15 - 5:55pm

    I spent 8 days campaigning for Charles in his constituency and share the views expressed by others that his defeat is a huge loss to our Party and his constituents.

    Charles was on superb form in the final weeks of the campaign and it was a joy to listen to him at public meetings (they still have public meetings in NW Scotland!). Every elector I spoke to held him in high regard but sadly the SNP tsunami was too great for even Charles to survive.

    I very much hope that after a well-earned break he will continue to play an active role in the Lib Dems and in public life generally. He still has much to contribute.

  • @John Roffey I have it on good authority that David Cameron personally called every Tory voter and ordered them to vote for Nick.

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 6:05pm

    Alan Gee 9th May ’15 – 5:48pm

    “Is this not one of the problems of the liberal image, being wishy washy, too complacent? Tell him it’s in the party’s interest for him not to have a national platform (if that’s what the party decides) and the Lib Dems can get on with things.”

    I would very much agree – generally I approve of the reasoned and civil debates that appear on LDV. However, this has to be tempered with ‘kill the ring leaders and spare their followers’ when this reasonableness is abused.

  • Stephen Campbell 9th May '15 - 6:05pm

    I am not sad in the slightest to see the likes of Danny Alexander and David Laws go.

    But losing Charles Kennedy actually hurts. A lot. And I say this as an ex-LD voter who voted Green in this election.

    Charles is a decent, good, kind man who believes strongly in the values set out in the Preamble. Losing him is not only a huge loss to your party, but a huge loss to our nation and people such as myself who need more compassion and humanity in politics. He was deposed as leader in such a brutal manner and he did not deserve that. And you know what? The fact that he has struggled with alcoholism makes him all the more human to me. It shows he has human flaws and human feelings. It shows he struggles with life just like so many of us do. He’s not a politican by PR and focus group. He doesn’t come across as an ad-man or self-serving like so many in the HoC. He actually has strongly held beliefs and principles. A rare thing in politics these days.

    To have lost him from politics permanently would be a huge loss. Let’s hope he finds his way back as an MP, MEP or MSP soon.

  • John Roffey 9th May '15 - 6:10pm

    TCO 9th May ’15 – 6:02pm
    “@John Roffey I have it on good authority that David Cameron personally called every Tory voter and ordered them to vote for Nick.”

    Don’t you think it rather odd that the only one of the Party’s coalition ministers that was saved by a ‘Breathtaking surge of Tory tactical votes’ was NC – how naive do you think we are Tory Central Office.

  • Peter Watson 9th May '15 - 8:07pm

    I’m sure that Charles Kennedy would be in many people’s lists if we could choose the 8 MPs who survived the night of long sgian-dubhs.

  • Really sorry to see the only person who really engaged me in politics over the last 30 years lose his seat. I hope the break ( as I hope it will be) will maybe allow time for other challenges to be overcome and will allow a return to the very top of the UK political tree in years to come. As others have indicated we need real people understanding real people issues whatever their political colour in this country and Charles has always fitted that role better than the rest of his political peers. Best wishes.

  • Ruth Bright 9th May '15 - 8:33pm

    This is going to be a sentimental comment but forgive me as it is a time for a bit of sentiment. When Charles Kennedy stood for the leadership my Grandpa was going gently into that good night. He was too ill to do anything much but as he was a huge Charles fan I acquired a Charles Kennedy for leader leaflet and got it signed. My grandfather was an old commie at heart, God knows how I got him to join the Lib Dems, anyway he was chuffed to bits with getting Charles’ autograph.

  • I am pleased that we have got back on track talking about Charles. I am deeply saddened by our loss of him as one of our MPs. Like Iain Shaw, I hope that it will be a break and not a final loss. Much has been said of his opposition to the Iraq war and, though I agreed with it, the decision was not what I admired most, it was way in which he led us in making that decision.
    As a member of the Federal Policy, Exucutive and International Relations committees at the time so I had a unique perspective. I was aware of the immense pressure he was put under from outside the party and from some of his colleagues to ‘fall in line’. He didn’t. Instead he led us through a properly considered process taking decisions in a timely, but not hasty, way. he insisted on looking for the evidence for and agaimst and weighing it carefully.
    Had other ‘wiser heads’ behaved as he did, the world would be a safer place now and much bloodshed would have been avoided.
    This leads me to what I like about Charles most – his supposed ‘laziness’. The other way of looking at that is that he can instinctively tell the difference between the spectacular and the important and treat each accordingly. His cool head and excellent judgement will be denied to Parliament for a while, let us hope not for too long.

  • Jeremy Morfey 9th May '15 - 8:56pm

    I remember the grim night of the 1983 General Election, the one after the Falklands War, when SDP MPs were dropping like flies. This was after the euphoria when the Alliance at one point topped the polls. They were left with six MPs. The high spot of the night was when someone informed a grim-faced David Owen that the SDP had picked up an untargetted seat in the Highlands of Scotland. “Charles who?” Owen was reported to have said. A lad of 23 nobody in Cowley Street had heard of.

    Roll on a few years and the Merger Debate, when the SDP was split between those who wanted to create a new party, and the Owenites who wanted to keep the “Continuing SDP” going. Charles Kennedy’s speech in favour of the new party was one of the best speeches I have ever heard. Such passion and authority from a man still in his twenties.

    I somehow feel this is not the last we’ll hear of Charles Kennedy. The SNP are enjoying their near-absolute authority in Scotland right now, but any power without effective Opposition is a dangerous beast. Here we have a highlander, whose Scottishness is beyond doubt, trumping the most die-hard nationalist. You cannot keep a good highlander down for long.

  • @John Roffey “Don’t you think it rather odd that the only one of the Party’s coalition ministers that was saved by a ‘Breathtaking surge of Tory tactical votes’ was NC – how naive do you think we are Tory Central Office.”

    And we would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids!

  • @Alex Macfie 9th May ’15 – 5:54pm
    “I think a Brussels job would be one of the best uses of Nick Clegg’s considerable talent.”


    Peeling them.

  • From the opposite end of the country, sorry for your news. Pleased, however, if the message above means you plan to fight back. I have been reading some of the posts on this website, which I also did this time five years ago. i cant remember what I posted exactly, but what has happened now was clearly a possibility. You roll the dice, and see… From the perspective of this end of the last parliament, I fear it was a horrible mistake, and all the liberals achieved was to justify the conservative’s position, and take the blame for conservative policies. What concerns me now is that posters on this website do not accept this. A huge hurdle to any recovery in liberal fortunes is to accept the coalition was a mistake. While I think liberals knelt meekly for the conservatives to execute the coup de grace, labour managed a suicide unaided. I have always regarded the liberals as ‘left’ politically (though a complex party position), and the Uk left is seriously in disarray. perhaps one gleam of hope is exactly this, there seems to be a vacancy for a party if it can get its act together. But be warned, I dont know what insiders knew about the countries finances, but my guess is they are far better than the coalition claimed. I see many reasons why you might have done that. Expect a miracle of government finance and some money thrown around to ease the conservatives image for natural left voters. Also real concessions to the SNP, after all that casting them as a threat to civilisation. best wishes whatever you do now.

  • I had hoped that CK would have -somehow – dodged the inevitable. I hope equally fervently that he will be back on the public stage soon. he is one of the Uk’s very few well regarded and much liked politicians.
    1983 was my first election as a young helper and his win was one of the few bright spots on an incredibly frustrating election night. he did not deserve the deposition from the leadership, the party showed a new side to its character over that, and not a particularly nice one.
    this reads like an obituary, but it’s not, just a note of appreciation for now.

  • “I thought he had made a promise to work as a hospital porter for the rest of his life if he destroyed the Party – or was it a pledge?” This is a useful reminder from John Roffey. Volunteer hospital porters are much in demand in over-stretched, underfunded NHS hospitals.

    Best thing for NC would be to keep his head down, help in a Sheffield hospital as a porter and try and be an excellent MP for Hallam so that our party will not have to depend on Tory votes next time. The last thing we need is a by-election in Hallam!!! Tory votes there are unlikely to be available to us next time because the Sheffield Conservatives are no doubt already well into their plan to take “their” seat of Hallam back.

    There is of course nothing wrong with Sheffield hospital porters speaking out on Europe. However, if we have learned one thing from the elections in 2014 and 2015 it is that if you centre a national media election campaign on someone who is very unpopular with our voters, it does not help elect Liberal Democrats.

    Charles was leader of a party which had considerable success because he worked with people, often with people that he did not agree with 100%. He did not lock himself away in the Bubble within a Bubble in Westminster. He did not restrict himself to posing in carefully choreographed TV cameos. He actually visited parliamentary by-elections, which we actually won against all the predictions and all the odds.

    He was as leader popular with the voters across the country. In Scotland today where the SNP boasts a string of massive majorities they look less than secure in Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

    I did not vote for Charles to be leader – I supported Jackie Ballard, the excellent amd inspirational MP for Taunton.
    It was a lifetime ago. Indeed people voting in the Scotland referendum last September were babes in arms when Charles was elected as leader.
    However, some people seem able to pack several political lifetimes into one.
    Charles Kennedy at 55 could still do another 32 years as an MP if he wanted to come back in 2020. 🙂

  • As an expat I’m very impressed by the comments on CK’s 32 years as an MP.. Congratulations Charles, on a job well done.. Take a bow, and take a break.. You are still a young man and there will be a lot for you to do in the future.

  • Bill le Breton 10th May '15 - 9:09am

    Ones heart goes out to Charles.

    Unlike John T, I did vote for Charles and had the honour of being part of his campaign team. He is a lovely person and a great Liberal whose reputation will only grow.

    But one has to ask how this all came to be, because Charles’ seat was a special seat in need of very special care.

    Last spring (2014) I sat down and drew up my list of what I thought would be our holds and loses in the coming campaign. Note there were no gains on my list. I found 12 that I thought were bankers. All this I published in the private forum.

    I suggested we needed to use last summer to put together a small team of experienced campaigners to travel round those 12 seats doing an audit on campaign strength. Only after those 12 had been audited and if necessary strengthened should the team move on to the next 12 – which at the time I thought were our true target seats.

    You see, even then, it seemed obvious to me just how far back the political frontier had retreated. Do not believe this post hoc nonsense that no-one could have foreseen the extent of the rout.

    Had we done that – and Charles’ seat was not in my first 12 – only one seat in Scotland was – I think we would have seen just how vulnerable our great former leader was. And we could have sent in a team to rebuild an infrastructure.

    The question remains, why was this not done?

  • Bill le Breton 10th May ’15 – 9:09am…………………..The question remains, why was this not done?………………….

    I think one answer is that the party believed it’s own spin……There were no harsh lessons learned from 5 years of single figure polling, losses of councillors, MEPs and deposits…..On LDV the prevailing wisdom appeared to be, “It’ll be all right on the night” ……

  • Sandy Garrity 10th May '15 - 9:44am

    A huge thank you for all the work you have done over the last, how many years.

    I first heard you speak in a Balloon Debate at Lochaber High School and was not surprised to hear that you had entered the House of Commons. May I wish you good luck in everything you do in the future, I am sure you will not disappear from the national stage.

    I thought that the Coalition was an extremely brave move after the election and was the reason I finally joined the LibDems. However, Nick was fatally wounded when he did his U turn on Student Fees, but it is time to move on and rebuild.

  • Gail Jamieson 10th May '15 - 11:48am

    Truly sorry about Charles Kennedy. One of those rare MPs (bit like Ken Clark) who is always worth listening to for his wit, erudition and kind of relaxed way of saying serious things. A gentleman. All the very best, Charles. Write a book! I’ll buy it. G Jamieson.

  • Gail Jamieson 10th May '15 - 12:03pm

    Truly sorry about Charles Kennedy. Speaks with wit, erudition and in an attractively relaxed way. A gentleman. Very best wishes. Write a book! G Jamieson.

  • Dr Michael Taylor 10th May '15 - 6:17pm

    There really is some claptrap talked about student fees. The negotiating team got an agreement for all LD MPs to abstain on any decision of student fees. This was not broken by those who eventually voted for them, but by those purists who refused to accept the deal and insisted on voting against. As Lynne Featherstone said at the Yorkshire Conference a year or so ago this put ministers in the position of having to vote for the new scheme to balance those LD MPs who insisted on not abstaining as per the agreement. This was not Nick Clegg’s decision but the deal reached by the negotiating team, agreed by the FE and the special conference.
    The stupidity was making the pledge in the first place. We knew we could only deliver it if we had an overall majority and that neither of the 2 old parties would support it.
    My wife and I as candidates in Leeds Central and Leeds West argued against signing the pledge but were browbeaten into doing so. At least we now seem to have learned that lesson and candidates will be almost impossible to persuade to support any pledge at all now or in the future,

  • “There really is some claptrap talked about student fees. ”

    Yes indeed.

    “this put ministers in the position of having to vote for the new scheme to balance those LD MPs who insisted on not abstaining as per the agreement”

    Considering that 28 Lib Dems voted for and 21 against, this explanation doesn’t make the slightest amount of sense. It looks more like the 21 voted against in a vain attempt to counter the government ministers who chose to vote for instead of abstaining.

  • Peter Watson 10th May '15 - 7:23pm

    @Dr. Michael Taylor “The negotiating team got an agreement for all LD MPs to abstain on any decision of student fees.”
    Which means that Lib Dem MPs were already planning to break their pledge (to vote against an increase) within days of making it, before Lord Browne had published his report and before there was any new evidence . This was depressing enough at the time.
    Do you have a reference for Lynne Featherstone’s comments? I have not heard this excuse before, and if accurate it implies that those MPs who voted to increase fees did not want to show support for the scheme that they told us was a good one, This seems bizarre (claptrap perhaps), but I suppose is consistent with the way they also voted against things they told us they supported. As David-1 points out, it also looks like our Lib Dem MPs could not count, but at least now they only have to count to 8.

  • I fear that Nick Clegg was our greatest asset. I don’t know who will be able to replace him. To me, he comes across as the most “normal” person in Politics, and he will be a sad loss for our party. Do we have anyone that could match up to him,
    personally, I’m not aware. I know we will have potted histories and ambitions of the various candidates, but you can’t beat face to face interaction, and we don’t necessarily know who would be the best candidate on paper. I look forward to the announcement of candidates, but fear that we only have eight people to choose from.

  • With all these new members coming along and looking around at the lib dem website, does someone think it might be a good idea to change some of the pictures and revise articles saying there is going to be a real surprise on polling night?

  • Jonathan Pile 14th May '15 - 3:11pm

    @ Dr Michael Taylor
    “There really is some claptrap talked about student fees. The negotiating team got an agreement for all LD MPs to abstain on any decision of student fees”
    Wouldn’t a better decision have been an agreement to differ – like on Trident, and for all LDs to vote enblock against the government. This would have placed the Labour party in the dilemma of backing us or following their own policy. It neededn’t have been a confidence matter, and would have demonstrated we didn’t sell out.The opposition to tuition fees was the principled will of the majority of the party which was ignored by the leadership and led to a hamfisted outcome. We didn’t fight in the negotiations for our policies.

  • Good luck Charles in whatever you do next. I echo your thoughts above entirely, and hope to see you back in elected politics sooner rather than later!

  • Well done Charles for all your years of success and excellent service.
    I hope you find a future to bring your special light to shine.
    The absence of proportional representation impacted on the results and if votes are in the future counted according to PR, a more honest view of what voters want could be enlightening.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Jun '15 - 8:12am

    Charles Kennedy was described as “A wise head on young shoulders”.

    Our party has several times produced the youngest MP in the Commons, but Charles also won the largest constituency in the UK and held it with large majorities.

    It was not thought to be winnable until Charles Kennedy won it.

    He played a key role in the merger of the Liberal Party and the SDP. He told us with his usual charm and wit about being on holiday in Greece (before the days of mobile ‘phones or fibre-optic landlines) and taking urgent and important telephone calls from Shirley Williams about the resignation of David Owen as leader of the SDP.

    Charles nominated fellow Scot Bob MacLennan as the SDP’s third leader and they made the merger happen, with David Steel, another Scot.

    Charles seemed to be everywhere, at a Liberal International meeting in Hungary attended by the Irish President Mary Robinson, at federal conference telling us about his experiences as a student in the USA, on TV and radio, … etc.

    Although an MP he took on the role of President of the party. As Leader he brought his usual deep insight and common sense to speak at the demonstration against the Iraq war, which he attended “provided I am allowed to say what I want to say.” Under his leadership we had the highest number of MPs we have ever had.

    At the Eastleigh by-election he queued up politely to sign in, shook my hand, and went over to speak to the BBC’s Nick Robinson. There were, of course, many other celebrities working hard at that election, which we won with the Tories third.

    At the Daily Politics Christmas show in 2014 Charles surprised even the well informed Andrew Neil who was talking about general election results pending in Scotland, including his own seat.

    On Question Time he pithily commented about the Labour -SNP relationship “Speaking as a Scot, they hate each other” which was accompanied by a grateful smile from the Labour spokeswoman on the panel.

    At federal conference he overran his time with a passionate speech on Europe and the Euro elections. We were warned by the chair of the session that nobody else would be allowed to do so. Nobody else had made such a passionate speech in that debate. We will miss him in the referendum pending for 2017, but should quote him where possible.

    At a fringe meeting with the Secretary of State for Scotland Charles joked about Glasgow taxi drivers before getting onto the serious stuff. The Iraq issue had affected relations with Tony Blair. There was a long silence, but the PM suddenly invited Charles to jointly address a meeting about the devolution in England in the PM’s constituency. That meeting went well, but Blair had put John Prescott in charge of the referendum in the North East which was defeated heavily.

    At federal conference in Glasgow Charles continued to push for Liberal Democrat policy of a fully federal UK to be campaigned for after the Scottish referendum, which he expected to win.

    To be a crofter in the Highlands meant coming from a low income background on small farms with often unhelpful landlords in notoriously bad weather. These circumstances led to a strong community spirit which Charles urged others to emulate.

    He will be sorely missed.

  • RIP Charles Kennedy.

    Liberal. Principled. Decent.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Jun '15 - 11:27am

    In the special debate in the House of Commons today I hope that MPs do not say that he would have been eligible for a peerage.

    He had very fine judgement and could say what he wanted to say on the media without needing to be in London.

  • Elis Webster 7th Jun '15 - 5:41pm

    Still, very sad at the death of CK. It feels even to me, as a Southerner ..of Scots extraction, something was very out of kilter.. in that 2015 Election Vote. (kilter:) Awry, unbalanced, confused et al. (as with many others). If we have those still ‘too young to pay taxes) but voting with SNP manipulation of voter uptake, things might go awry! No sense of subtle domestic history with them. Things will swing back ~ in politics they inevitably do.. Sad to reflect Charles will not be around to repair the goodwill and sense of fair play that he could have, to the folks in his constituency.
    To the voters of Ross, Skye & Lochaber I would only say, reflect long and hard about the SNP.. There is a solid, sensible expression ‘careful what you wish for.. you might get it’ ~ and in his despair, consider what have you lost!
    RIP Charles.. We shall recall you always as an MP of wisdom, honesty, great goodwill (and political humour) ..rare.

  • In this unspeakably tragically sad aftermath to the unthinkable loss of a very energetic liberal Scot leader, respects to his own loved ones, family and MP family.
    Turn to the Light within and wait before Our Lord.
    Answers willl come.
    We are not here to fight each other.
    Unity and fairness.
    They are relevant in sadness and times of great change.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Dec '15 - 11:34am

    Andrew Neil’s Christmas party should not have been allowed to happen without a mention of Charles kennedy, who was on the This Week sofa in 2014. As Tim Farron said in the Syria debate in the Commons, “What would Charles Kennedy have done?” We can now see that the debate was primarily political and diplomatic, relations with USA, relations with France.

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