Childhood & Early Life
Kennedy was born Charles Peter Kennedy, on November 25, 1959, in Inverness, Scotland, to Mary and Ian Kennedy. Raised Roman Catholic, he attended the 'Lochaber High School' in Fort William and then graduated from the 'University of Glasgow' with an MA degree in politics and philosophy in 1982.
Kennedy was the president of the ‘SDP,’ the 'Dialectic Society,' and the university union (1980–1981). In 1982, he championed the 'Observer Mace' debate competition, where he spoke to Clark McGinn.
Kennedy was working as a journalist for 'BBC Scotland,’ when he received the 'Fulbright Fellowship' for a research program at 'Indiana University.'
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Kennedy had an ‘SDP’ nomination while he was a research fellow. He contested for the Scottish seat of the Ross, Cromarty, and Skye constituency during the 1983 general election and had a surprising victory. With that, Kennedy (at 23 years) becoming the youngest sitting MP.
Kennedy was on the ‘Social Services‘ select committee from 1985 to 1987. He got re-elected at the 1987 general election and worked for the ‘Televising of Proceedings of the House‘ select committee from 1987 to 1989.
Kennedy was the first ‘SDP’ member to support the party's 1988 merger with the 'Liberal Party.' It was renamed 'Liberal Democrats.' He became the party's spokesperson for health in 1989 and again won the 1992 general election, after which he became the spokesperson for 'Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.'
He served on the ‘Standards and Privileges‘ select committee from 1997 to 1999, after retaining his seat in the 1997 general election. Kennedy also served as the ‘LDP’ president (1990–1994) and the 'Liberal Democrat' spokesperson (1997 to 1999).
In 1999, Kennedy was named the ‘LDP‘ leader and a member of the 'Privy Council of the United Kingdom.‘
The 2001 general election was Kennedy's first major campaign, as the ‘Liberal Democrats‘ leader targeted a limited number of seats but reached out to maximum support. They won 52 seats with an 18.3 percent share of votes in the election. ‘Labour Party’ won the election.
Under Kennedy's leadership, ‘LDP‘ became the largest British party to oppose the Iraq War.
Kennedy's political career had a major downfall after journalist Jeremy Paxman publicly questioned him about his drinking habits during a TV interview on July 2002. Subsequently, several reports were generated about his addiction. The allegations were strongly denied by both him and his party.
In April 2005, the birth of Kennedy's first child delayed the ‘LDP’ manifesto launch for the 2005 general election. He was on temporary leave. Kennedy returned on the day of the launch. He made a mistake in his speech, mistaking council tax for local income.
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The 2005 general election was Kennedy's final campaign as a leader. He carried out his ‘decapitation‘ strategy from the 2001 election, targeting the maximum of ‘Labour‘ seats and by attracting (particularly Muslim) ‘Labour‘ voters who opposed the Iraq War. Kennedy's strategy helped ‘LDP‘ grab the Brent East and the Leicester South seats from the opposition.
However, ‘LDP‘ suffered an overall loss of seats to the ‘Conservatives,‘ which was considered the relatively weaker party. The "decapitation" strategy was hence widely considered a failure. Kennedy's leadership, too, was highly criticized.
Following the debacle, ‘LDP‘ senior members pressurized Kennedy to either ‘raise his game‘ or ‘resign.‘ A ‘Kennedy Must Go‘ petition was also circulated.
On January 6, 2006, Kennedy came to know that ‘ITN‘ would be reporting about his drinking problem, which severely damaged his chances of contesting for further elections. He was pressured to resign by the MPs.
On January 7, 2006, Kennedy announced his resignation as an ‘LDP‘ leader. Menzies Campbell served as the interim leader until he was officially elected as the leader in the next campaign.
In Kennedy‘s biography by journalist Greg Hurst, he mentioned that senior ‘LDP‘ members always knew about Kennedy's alcoholism but kept it a secret.
Kennedy then began his political career as a backbencher. His first major campaign was the ‘Dunfermline and West Fife‘ by-election, which his party eventually won.
Kennedy‘s first media appearance after resigning was on 'BBC's ‘Question Time,‘ where he kept himself from commenting on his return as an ‘LDP‘ leader. He then hosted a documentary on ‘Channel 4‘ in 2006 and contributed an article to the 'Comment Is Free' section of ‘The Guardian.‘
On April 10, 2008, Kennedy was made the ‘Rector‘ of the ‘University of Glasgow.‘ He was re-elected in February 2011.
Kenndy was re-elected in the 2010 general election. He was associated with the cross-party ‘Better Together‘ campaign, a pro-union campaign for the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. However, Kennedy later criticized ‘Labour‘s strategy in the campaign, which resulted in his loss at the 2015 general election.
Family, Personal Life, & Death
Kennedy‘s father was a brewery worker but was also a lifelong teetotaller.
Kennedy was married to Sarah Gurling, his friend James Gurling‘s sister, from July 2002 until their divorce on December 9, 2010. Their son, Donald, was born in 2005.
Kennedy died on June 1, 2015, just 6 weeks after his father died, at his home in Fort William. He was cremated at his family's cemetery in Clunes.