Alcoholism killed ex-leader of UK liberals: family
Charles Kennedy, the former leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrats, died as a result of his drinking problem, his family said Friday after his post-mortem.
Kennedy, who led the party to its best general election result since the 1920s, died suddenly at his home in Fort William on the west coast of Scotland on Monday.
The post-mortem found that he suffered a “major hemorrhage,” the 55-year-old’s family said.
“The report makes clear this was a consequence of his battle with alcoholism,” it said.
“We are grateful to the many friends and also medical experts who sought to help down the years but ultimately this was an illness Charles could not conquer despite all the efforts he and others made.”
The Scot became the youngest member in parliament when he won his local seat in 1983, aged 23, but lost it in last month’s election.
He took over the leadership of the Liberal Democrats from Paddy Ashdown in 1999 and steered the Lib Dems to their best general election results since the 1920s.
In 2005, they claimed 62 seats on the back of his lone stand among major party leaders in opposing the invasion of Iraq.
Kennedy quit as leader just a year later in 2006 after confirming he had received treatment for a drinking problem.
He lost his seat after 32 years in the May 7 general election as the Scottish National Party swept to victory in 56 of the 59 Scottish seats.
“We knew he had a battle with alcoholism and it was one that he ultimately lost. I can only hope that people will have a greater understanding of alcoholism as an illness,” said Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.
“That he was such an outstanding public figure whilst he was ill shows how remarkable he was. It is important to remember how Charles lived and not just how he died.”