Constituency pledges 'total support' for leader

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On the streets of Charles Kennedy's parliamentary constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber there was overwhelming support for his decision to speak out about his personal problems and his ability to remain as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

"I think it is fair to say there is complete, 100 per cent, universal support for Charles Kennedy up here," said an Inverness party member. "People are very annoyed at the way some MPs have been talking in recent weeks and for stirring all this up."

Throughout the predominantly rural constituency which stretches across Dingwall and the Black Isle in the north-east, Ullapool in the north-west, the Isle of Skye and the small isles in the west, and Glencoe and Fort William to the south, Mr Kennedy remains a popular figure. At more than 12,000 square miles, it is the biggest constituency in the UK and at the election last May, the Liberal Democrat leader secured 54 per cent of the vote.

"We are all very proud of Charles Kennedy up here," said Angela MacLean, a local Liberal Democrat councillor. "I support him 100 per cent.

"I think he was very brave in what he said and people here will respect that. Over the last few weeks there has been a tremendous amount of support for Charles, not only from Lib Dem supporters but from everyone."

Willie Macdonald, 53, of Dingwall, said: "They say admitting you have a problem [with alcohol] is the first step and he's done that, so now everybody needs to give him some encouragement.

"If he can't stop drinking and it prevents him doing his job then he should go but the man deserves to be given a chance."

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