Charles Kennedy

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The Right Honourable
Charles Kennedy
MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
In office
9 August 1999 – 7 January 2006
Deputy Menzies Campbell
Alan Beith
Preceded by Paddy Ashdown
Succeeded by Menzies Campbell
Member of Parliament
for Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Ross, Skye and Inverness West (1997-2005)
Incumbent
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by new constituency
Majority 14,249 (43.8%)
Personal details
Born 25 November 1959 (1959-11-25) (age 55)
Inverness, Scotland
Nationality British
Political party (1) SDP (1983-1988)
(2) Liberal Democrats (1988-Present)
Spouse(s) Sarah Gurling
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Religion Roman Catholic
Website www.charleskennedy.org.uk

Charles Peter Kennedy MP, PC (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 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.