'I will go out of this world feet first with my Lib Dem membership card in my pocket': 12 of Charles Kennedy's finest quotes

Former Lib Dem leader, who has died at the age of 55, had a rare ability to talk about politics with humour and humility

Click to follow
Indy Politics

From opposing the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to praising a former Lib Dem leader as a "trained killer", Charles Kennedy was a politician with the gift of the gab.

1. On opposing the Iraq war - March 2003:

"I have never once been persuaded as to the causal link between the Iraqi regime, al-Qaeda and September 11. I do believe the impact of war under these circumstances is bound to weaken the international coalition against terrorism itself."

2. Dismissing rumours he would join the Labour party after the Liberal Democrats entered coalition with the Conservatives in 2010:

"I will go out of this world feet first with my Lib Dem membership card in my pocket."

3. On taking over as Liberal Democrat leader - 1999:

"From now on it's downhill all the way."

4. On politics:

"Politics is much too serious to be taken too seriously; equally, there are many aspects of it so laughable as to be lamentable."

5. On leading a party - May 2001:

"To run an effective political party you need a degree of tribalism, it's the glue that holds everyone together."


6. Reflecting on Paddy Ashdown's leadership of the Liberal Democrats - 1998:

"Paddy Ashdown is the only party leader who's a trained killer. Although, to be fair, Mrs Thatcher was self-taught."

7. On political opponents - April 2005:

"I can hardly think of an occasion when I've got into a stand-up fight with any political opponent. I've got my views, people know what they are, they can agree or they can choose to disagree. I'm not going to waste time just rubbishing everybody else."

8. On immigration - April 2005

"Immigrants provide skills that we simply cannot afford to do without. They have contributed hugely to Britain's success."

9. On the role of Government - April 2005

"Politicians are good at saying how Government must do more, but we must also think carefully about where Government should do less."

10. On rejecting the language of confrontation - Speech to the TUC  Conference, September 2002:

"We Liberal Democrats believe in dialogue. We believe in cooperation with both sides of industry and between both sides of industry. And we believe in the language of cooperation. We reject the language of confrontation."

11. On early rumours he had an alcohol problem - January 2001:

"If you were to describe me as teetotal, on behalf of my constituency I’d have to sue; that would lose me every vote in the Highlands."

12. On education - April 2005:

"We should have high expectations of our children, but politicians should not tell teachers how to meet them."