Lochaber High School, Fort William; Glasgow University - MA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy & English 1982; Indiana University, USA - Speech Communication, Political Rhetoric & British Politics 1982-3
Charles Kennedy is the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats who, at the 2005 General Election achieved the best result the party and its predecessors had enjoyed since 1923, winning 62 seats.
Charles has been an MP in the Highlands since 1983 and was leader of the Liberal Democrats from August 1999 until January 2006.
Born in Inverness in 1959, he was brought up and educated in Fort William, attending Lochaber High School and then Glasgow University, where he was elected President of Glasgow University Union and won the British Observer Mace Debating Tournament in 1982. Following his graduation that year, Charles worked as a journalist and broadcaster with BBC Highland in Inverness. He was then awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Indiana University in the United States.
In 1983 he was working towards a PhD at Indiana when the opportunity arose to seek the Social Democratic Party (SDP) nomination for Ross, Cromarty and Skye. Charles made a flying visit home, won the selection ballot and returned full time to the UK in April. The General Election followed and less than six weeks after being chosen as candidate Charles was elected to the House of Commons, defeating the sitting government minister to become the youngest MP of the time.
During his term in Parliament Charles has been spokesperson on issues ranging from the welfare state to Europe, agriculture and rural affairs. He served on the All-Party Select Committee that introduced the televising of business in the chamber. He was also the first SDP MP to back the merger with the Liberals after the 1987 general election, and moved a successful motion to bring this about at the SDP conference that year.
In the new party of Liberal Democrats resulting from the merger, Charles was elected UK Party President, the equivalent of party chairman, in 1990, and served in that post until 1994. In August 1999 he was elected as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in succession to Paddy Ashdown, and he was appointed to the Privy Council in October 1999.
In 2002, Charles Kennedy married Sarah Gurling and their first child - Donald James Kennedy - was born on April 12 2005 at the start of that year's General Election campaign. At the election on May 5 2005, Charles won the newly formed constitency of Ross, Skye & Lochaber with 58.7% of the vote and a majority of 14,249. He thus became MP for Lochaber - his home area - for the first time in his career while leading the Liberal Democrats to their best national result since 1923.
In early 2006, Charles resigned the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.
Since stepping down as UK party leader - in addition to his constituency, parliamentary and party commitments - Charles has been elected as a Vice-President of Liberal International and has been a Visiting Parliamentary Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford (where he has been exploring the role of ethnic and religious minorities in liberal democracies). He was elected as President of the European Movement in November 2007, and in April 2008 was elected as Rector of Glasgow University until 2011. He is also a regular national writer, broadcaster and speaker.
To read more about Charles Kennedy's background and beliefs, see the preface to the paperback edition of Charles Kennedy's book The Future of Politics
Journalist & Broadcaster with BBC Highland, Inverness 1982
Elected Member of Parliament 1983; Appointed Privy Councillor 1999
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