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Death of a Decent Man

Charles Kennedy during an election campaign in the Midlands - File

British Muslims join other communities and politicians to mourn the death of polite and gentle Charles Kennedy, the first Leader to oppose the Iraq War. He was the man behind the Lib Dem success in the 2010 elections after winning by-election after by-election during the Blair-Brown era

Charles Kennedy during an election campaign in the Midlands - File
Charles Kennedy during an election campaign in the Midlands – File

Former Liberal Democrat Party leader Charles Kennedy has died at his home in Fort William aged 55. His family said they were devastated to lose a “fine man and loving father”. No cause of death has been given but police said it was not suspicious.

Mr Kennedy, who led his party from 1999 to 2006, lost his seat last month.

“The death of Charles Kennedy, former leader of the Liberal Democrats is a huge shock to the whole nation. I pay tribute to his lifetime of public service and today we are all thinking of his beloved son, family and friends,” said Mr Mohammed Shafiq, Chief Executive of the Ramadhan Foundation.

“Charles Kennedy had a unique quality which was being a great communicator and connecting with people. I have many fond memories of him and in particular standing with him against the war in Iraq.  For us in the British Muslim community he will forever be remembered for his leadership against the Iraq War and defence of civil liberties. Without this leadership our politics and rights would have been greatly diminished.

“He was a great parliamentarian who will be greatly missed by all. I offer my deepest condolences to his beloved son, family and friends. Today is a sad day for British politics.”

Mr Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister, said: “Charles devoted his life to public service, yet he had an unusual gift for speaking about politics with humour and humility which touched people well beyond the world of politics.

“He was one of the most gentle and unflappable politicians I have ever known, yet he was immensely courageous too not least when he spoke for the country against the invasion of Iraq.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Sad beyond words to hear the news about Charlie Kennedy. A lovely man and one of the most talented politicians of his time. Gone too soon.”

Lord Ashdown told the BBC that Mr Kennedy “had his demons, we all have our demons, but on form and when he was on song Charles was the best of all of us”.

“It has been a very difficult time for him, he lost his seat, at the beginning of the election campaign he lost his father.

“He was, I think, a person who maybe characterised a different and more welcome political age when politicians generally spoke the language of ordinary people and stuck to the things they believed in… which is why he was so popular.”

Former Lib Dem MP Vince Cable paid tribute to Mr Kennedy’s “shrewd political judgement” and “political courage under attack”.

And Iain Duncan Smith, who led the Conservatives when they supported the Iraq invasion, said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“I got to know him well in the House of Commons and always found him to be kind and courteous, even when we disagreed,” he said. “He was always good company, with a self deprecating humour that was disarming.”