Charles Peter Kennedy (25 November 1959 – 1 June 2015) was a British Liberal Democrat politician who was Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006, and a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1983 to 2015, latterly for the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency.Kennedy became at different times a member of three political parties. At the age of 15 he joined the Labour Party, followed in 1981 by the newly formed SDP (Social Democratic Party), and in 1988, the Liberal Democrats, when the SDP merged with the Liberal Party.At the 1983 general election, Kennedy was elected for the SDP aged 23. He quickly emerged as a potential party leader; in 1991, after the Alliance parties had merged, he became President of the Liberal Democrats, a position that he held for the next four years.
In 1999, following the resignation of Paddy Ashdown, Kennedy was elected as party leader at the age of 39. He led the party through two general elections, increasing its number of seats in the House of Commons to 62, the highest level since the Liberal Party won 158 seats in 1923, and led his party’s opposition to the Iraq War. A charismatic and affable speaker in public, he appeared extensively on television during his leadership.
During the latter stages of Kennedy’s leadership, there was concern about both his leadership and his health. From December 2005, some within the party were openly questioning his position and calling for a leadership election. On 5 January 2006, he was informed that ITN would be reporting that he had received treatment for alcoholism; he pre-empted the broadcast by admitting that he had had treatment, and called a leadership election in which he intended to stand. This admission damaged his standing; 25 MPs signed a statement urging him to resign immediately, which he did on 7 January; he was replaced by Menzies Campbell.
After resigning as party leader, Kennedy remained in office as a backbench MP. After the 2010 general election he voted against Nick Clegg’s decision to form a coalition with the Conservative Party. On the issue of constitutional reform, he was a long-term supporter of full home rule for Scotland within a federal United Kingdom within a federal Europe. He lost his seat at the 2015 general election to Ian Blackford of the SNP, and died less than a month later from a haemorrhage linked to his alcoholism.