The news has broken this morning that former Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP and lifelong politician Charles Kennedy has died suddenly at home in Fort William at the age of 55.

The Edinburgh Reporter remembers him speaking as a very young politician at a small gathering in Inverness when his oratorial skills were already much in evidence.

Speaking in tribute to the late Charles Kennedy, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Charles Kennedy and my thoughts today are with his family, friends and party colleagues who will all be devastated by his passing.

“Charles was a hugely well-respected and well-liked man. He was without doubt one of the towering political talents of his generation – a sharp debater, who deployed knowledge, experience and wit to wonderful effect.

“He will be remembered – amongst his many other achievements – for his principled opposition to the war in Iraq and leading his party to its best ever election result.

“Charles devoted his life to serving Scotland and his beloved Highlands. His passion for making our country a better place to live is his lasting legacy. I am proud to have known Charles Kennedy and our country today is the poorer for his passing.”

In an emotional interview on BBC Good Morning Scotland Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said his eyes were red this morning.

Former Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West Mike Crockart had this to say:  

Speaking following the sad news of Charles Kennedy’s death, SNP MP for Ross, Skye & Lochaber, Ian Blackford said:

 “I am shocked and saddened at the news of Charles Kennedy’s death. He was a bright, articulate and gregarious man and it is so sad that he has been taken at such a young age. My thoughts are with his family and all who knew and loved him.
“Charles was a very kind, decent and honest man. I have known him for a long time, and I will remember him as someone that could rise above party politics.
“I recall election night in 1999 – not a good night for the SNP, but Charles showed tremendous kindness and support that evening. I will never forget that.
“On the doorstep in the constituency there was undoubtedly a lot of warmth expressed toward him – and he had helped a lot of people during his time as an MP. His humanity and kind nature endeared him to so many.
“Charlie Kennedy set a fine example of how a member of parliament should serve their constituents and make their political arguments and that is something all of us in public life should all learn from and aspire to.”

Photo By Moniker42 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( (], via Wikimedia Commons)