Very sad news to hear that the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has passed away aged just 55.
I had a lot of respect for Kennedy. He helped shape the Lib Dems into a realistic third party option against what was then New Labour and an increasingly beleaguered Tory party. His opposition to the Iraq War, coupled with his gaining what remains the best ever election result for his party in the 00s and made him someone to sit up and take notice of. Relaxed and respectful, he seemed a breath of fresh air in the arena of politics and was influential enough to help bring about a different way to do things, to be a different side of the argument and thankfully to be someone people listened to.
Unfortunately after seven years as his parties leader, Kennedy resigned when his battle with drink became public to be replaced by fellow Scot Menzies Campbell and latterly - and unfortunately - Nick Clegg. Both his successors benefited from the great strides he took the Lib Dems forward in in terms of the public consciousness.
Kennedy started out in the Social Democratic Party, becoming in 1983 the youngest MP at the time aged just 23 and the spokesman for the party on Scotland, Social Security and Health. When the party merged with the Lib Dems in 1988 he continued to hold a series of front bench roles, ultimately taking over from Paddy Ashdown as Lib Dem leader just eleven years later in 1999.
Following his resignation in 2006, Kennedy remained in politics but maintained a low profile having been against the coalition with the Tories in 2010. He lost the seat he had held for over 30 years in the elections last month to the SNP but was determined to remain in politics, lending his voice to the pro-European lobby in the wake of the referendum debate. Sadly this is now not to be. He leaves behind a young family and will be much missed as a father, a family man, an honest man and as a politician.