Emotional tribute to Charles Kennedy at Lib Dem conference


Liberal Democrat members have paid an emotional tribute to former leader Charles Kennedy, offering the late MP a minute's applause following a film dedicated to his life and career.

The film, which ran for about eight minutes, featured a series of clips of Mr Kennedy in the media, in the House of Commons and on public demonstrations.

Much of the film focused on his powerful opposition to the Iraq war, where as party leader he stood apart from the political mainstream in opposing the 2003 invasion.

Past and present leaders of the Liberal Democrats paid warm tributes to Mr Kennedy, who led his party from 1999 to 2006 and in two general election campaigns.

Mr Kennedy died at his home in Fort William in June this year.

In the film, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "You were the 27-year-old who wowed the SDP conference, persuading the SDP to merge with the Liberals - that's why we as a party exist.

"You led us through the Iraq war and gave us our heart, you gave us our principles, you gave us that position that brought so many people to us. You led us during the campaign in 2005 where I gained my seat - I wouldn't be an MP without you.

"You were a hero before I met you and you became a friend once I became a Member of Parliament. I will miss you massively, we will miss you massively."

Mr Farron will make a further tribute in his main conference speech tomorrow.

Among others featured in the film were Nick Clegg, Baroness Shirley Williams and Lord David Steel.

The film closed with a clip of Mr Kennedy's 1999 party conference speech in Harrogate. He said: "At any given point in this country, 55 million people and citizens, three people, three people are given the chance of leading a British political party. 

"Three, out of 55 million. And you have looked at me and you have given me that chance and all the responsibility that goes with it.

"Well, for me it is personally the chance of a lifetime. I think politically for us it is the chance of a generation. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I won't let you down, let's go and make a success of it together."

Hundreds of party members rose as one to offer a minute's applause to Mr Kennedy, with Mr Farron and the current generation of MPs in the front row alongside Mr Kennedy's ex-wife Sarah Gurling.