Charles and I were the last of the Liberal Democrat class of ’83 to leave the House of Commons – as we both did despite our efforts at the recent General Election.
From 1983-2015 together in the House of Commons and around the country, I saw a friend and colleague who never wavered in his principles, never wavered in his determination and never wavered in his generous friendships.
Charles burst into political prominence by winning his seat at the first attempt when he was only 23. He remained a star of the political firmament until his tragic and untimely death. Charles helped to lead the SDP into the alliance with the Liberal party to form the most successful third party in British politics since the 1920s. His overriding passions were for greater social justice and to make sure that Britain always played a full part in the European Union and on the international stage.
Liberal Democrat opposition to the Iraq war was led by Charles and united millions in the country behind him.
Our success in parliament was led by Charles and paved the way for our participation in government – even though Charles had concerns about going into coalition with the Conservatives.
And our credibility in the country was hugely enhanced by Charles, who was one of the best political communicators of our generation.
We must just hope and pray that the affection felt by so many for Charles Kennedy gives strength and support to Sarah and Donald and all Charles’ family.
Simon Hughes, former Liberal Democrat deputy leader and party president; in the House of Commons with Charles Kennedy from 1983-2015; contested party leadership with Charles in 1999.