Charles Kennedy dead: The former Liberal Democrat leader's political career in pictures

He was the youngest MP in Parliament when he was elected in 1983

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The Independent Online

Charles Kennedy was Britain’s youngest MP when he entered Parliament but went on to become the leader of the Liberal Democrats in a political career spanning 32 years.

The politician was found dead at his home in Fort William on Monday, prompting an outpouring of grief from politicians across the political spectrum, including his successor Nick Clegg and former opponent Tony Blair.

Mr Kennedy won his seat in the 1983 general election, gaining his native Scottish constituency of Ross, Cromarty and Skye for the Social Democratic Party.

He moved under the Liberal Democrat banner when his party merged with the Liberals in 1988 and took over as leader from Paddy Ashdown 11 years later.

Mr Kennedy stayed at the helm as the party grew, leading it to its best result in 80 years — winning 62 seats at the 2005 election.

But months later, following rumours about ill health and drinking, Mr Kennedy stood down as leader after becoming the first British political leader of modern times to acknowledge he was battling alcoholism. 

The politician remained popular with his party and took high-profile roles campaigning in the Lib Dem-backed alternative vote referendum in 2011 and against Scottish independence last year.

Mr Kennedy lost his Parliamentary seat to the Scottish National Party in the general election, saying afterwards that serving his constituency had been the “greatest privilege of my adult and public life”.

He said he wished to remain “actively engaged” as a Liberal Democrat, fighting to keep the UK together and maintain its relationship with the European Union.

The cause of Mr Kennedy's death has not yet been announced but police said there were “no suspicious circumstances”.

Mr Kennedy is survived by his 10-year-old son Donald, who was born during the 2005 election campaign.

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