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Charles Kennedy's Biography

 
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Charles Peter Kennedy was born on 25 November 1959 in Inverness, the son of a crofter.

Charles Kennedy was educated at Lochaber High School in Fort William and then gained an Honours degree in Politics and Philosophy at Glasgow University, where he was President of the Union from 1980-1981. He won the British Observer Mace for University Debating in 1982. Although Charles Kennedy was to become leader of the Liberal Democrats, his first allegiance was to the Labour Party in the late 1970s, however, Kennedy said: "my political views were influenced critically by Roy Jenkins's landmark Dimbleby lecture" in November 1979.

After graduating Charles Kennedy had a brief stint as a journalist with BBC Highland in Inverness, before going to the States where he spent a year from 1982 to 1983 as Fulbright Scholar and was an Associate Instructor in the Department of Speech Communication in Indiana University.

Charles Kennedy was selected by the SDP for Ross, Cromarty and Skye constituency and gained a surprising victory at the 1983 general election beating off Conservative Energy Minister, Hamish Gray.

Although thought to have been a supporter of David Owen, he was initially the only one of the five SDP MPs to support the proposed merger with the Liberal Party, which eventually took place in 1988.

Throughout his tenure as an MP Charles Kennedy has made regular broadcast appearances in humorous current affairs programmes or segments, like Have I Got News for You, and with Julian Critchley and Austin Mitchell on Radio 4's Today programme (although an interesting footnote is that back in 1986 Charles Kennedy supported an end to the BBC license fee).

Charles Kennedy had a variety of posts with the party before he was elected as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in August 1999.

In the early hours of 12 April 2005, Charles Kennedy's wife gave birth to a son named Donald James. Charles Kennedy had delayed the release of the Liberal Democrats' manifesto for the 2005 election when his wife went into labour.

In January 2006 Charles Kennedy admitted publicly that he had a drink problem - an admission that acted as a catalyst for senior LibDems unhappy with his leadership to go public and in the end, on January 7 2006, Charles Kennedy resigned as leader of the party.

In 2006 a biography of Charles Kennedy by Greg Hurst was published. In a review of Charles Kennedy: A Tragic Flaw, Michael White wrote: "Colleagues would grumble about Kennedy's lack of strategic vision and organisational drive. To which I would mutter that voters seemed to like the 'sort of bloke you could imagine meeting in a pub and having a drink, possibly two'."

Charles Kennedy lost his seat in the 2015 election, having spent over 30 years in the House of Commons.

On 1 June 2015, Charles Kennedy died aged 55.

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