Charles Kennedy

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Charles Peter Kennedy (born 25 November 1959) is a British politician; from 9 August 1999 until 7 January 2006, he was the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third largest political party in the United Kingdom.

In the 1983 General Election he stood for the Ross, Cromarty & Skye constituency, then held by the Conservative MP and Minister, Hamish Gray. In a shock result, Kennedy was elected for the Social Democratic Party (SDP): at 23, he became the youngest MP in the House of Commons. Ambitious and popular, he quickly emerged as a potential party leader. In 1994, by which time the SDP and the Liberal Party had merged, he became President of the Liberal Democrats – a position he held for four years. In 1999, on the resignation of Paddy Ashdown, Kennedy was elected party leader.

He took the party through two General Elections. However, he faced criticism for his laid-back leadership style, and there was considerable speculation regarding his alcohol consumption. From December 2005, some within the party were questioning his leadership and calling for a leadership election. On 5 January 2006, Kennedy was informed that ITN would be reporting that he had received treatment for a drinking problem. Kennedy decided to pre-empt the broadcast and admit his drinking problem openly. He called a leadership election at the same time, stating that he intended to stand. The admission of a drinking problem seriously damaged his standing within the parliamentary party. As support for him amongst this key group ebbed away, Kennedy resigned as leader on 7 January, saying that he would not be standing in the leadership election. Deputy leader Sir Menzies Campbell took over as interim leader and was elected as leader on 2 March 2006.


Early life

Born in Inverness, and raised as a Roman Catholic, Kennedy was educated at Lochaber High School, in Fort William. There, he was known for taking part in the school's mock elections that ran at the same time as the real elections.

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