Sir Bob Russell leads tributes to former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy
- Credit: Archant
Former Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has led the regional tributes to former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who has died at his home in the Scottish Highlands.
Sir Bob said that Mr Kennedy was one of the great Parliamentarians of his generation.
“Charles was a friend of mine throughout my 18 years as MP. He was great company, with a lovely sense of humour. He was held in high regard by MPs of all persuasions – when he spoke in the House of Commons, everyone listened.
“He led the Liberal Democrats with style and enthusiasm. He also showed strong leadership in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, when our Party was the only one to be unanimous in voting against Tony Blair’s illegal war the consequences of which we see today in that troubled part of the world.”
Sir Bob recalled that Mr Kennedy made four visits to Colchester. On his first, during which the low pension increase by the Labour Government was featured, he had tea in the garden at The Minories.
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His second was to perform the official opening of the MP’s office and Liberal Democrat constituency headquarters at Magdalen Hall, Wimpole Road, in October 2003.
Mr Kennedy’s third visit was to an acquired brain injury housing scheme at Highwoods and to Colchester General Hospital which was pioneering the employment of a specialist nurse to assist patients with disabilities.
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His fourth was a guest at Colchester Oyster Feast in 2007 where he was one of the speakers.
Sir Bob said of the official opening of his Party HQ: “Charles was greatly pleased to be welcomed by a piper playing the Skye Boat Song. Skye, of course, being his Scottish constituency.”
He added: “Charles will be sadly missed. He was a great character. A great personal friend. A great Parliamentarian. I am sure he would have been elevated to the House of Lords. It is so very, very sad that he has gone at such a premature age.”