'Be proud of your daddy' - Charles Kennedy's son smiles with pride as MPs pay tribute to the man who represented the 'best of politics'

Former Liberal Democrat leader's 10-year-old son sat in viewing gallery as MPs shared memories of their ex-colleague

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Charles Kennedy’s 10-year-old son Donald watched from the viewing gallery with pride as MPs paid tribute to the former Liberal Democrat leader, who died aged 55 earlier this week.

The red-haired boy, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his father, grinned as David Cameron mentioned his name but appeared to fight back tears as MPs shared their memories of their ex-colleague.

The Prime Minister hailed Mr Kennedy for representing the “best that politics can be” and praised him for his principled stand against the Iraq War.

“Looking back it is easy to forget just what a stand that was, taking abuse from the major parties on both sides of the house and adopting a position that wasn’t even supported by the previous leader of his own party.”

Donald sat in the viewing gallery with his mother, Sarah Gurling, who was married to Mr Kennedy for seven years before the couple divorced in 2010.

 

Nick Clegg, who stood down as Lib Dem leader after last month’s crushing election result, described Mr Kennedy as a "fully signed up member of the human race" in a touching tribute to his former colleague.

He added the former party leader was the "polar opposite of a cardboard cut-out, points-scoring party politician."

"Much though he was wedded to politics all his life, I think Charles would have wanted to be remembered as a kind and loving father, brother and son first; and an accomplished politician second," Mr Clegg said.

In a particularly emotional moment, Lib Dem leadership favourite Tim Farron looked up to Donald sitting in the gallery and said: "It's not what you have done, it is who you are. And Charles Kennedy was a very special man. Donald you should be really proud of your daddy, I am proud of your daddy, I loved him to bits. I am proud to call him my friend," he added, close to tears.

Labour MP Tom Watson also directed his tribute to Donald. "Your father was a very great man. He stood up for what he believed in," he said.

Angus Robertson, leader of the SNP’s Westminster MPs, said that although he and his party was “delighted” to win Mr Kennedy’s seat, they were also “genuinely saddened Charles Kennedy would no longer be in Parliament”.

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SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson pays tribute to Charles Kennedy in a speech in the House of Commons

"People across politics will attest to the generosity of spirit that Charles Kennedy showed to people on all sides of the party divide."

“Charles Kennedy was a giant in Scottish and in UK politics,” he added.

Speaker John Bercow paid tribute to his "rare ability to reach out to millions of people of all political persuasions".  He added: "In this seminal sense, therefore, Charles was the boy next door of British public life - we salute him.

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John Bercow fought back a tear as he paid his own tribute to the former Lib Dem leader

"He was a good talker but an even better listener," Mr Bercow said, blinking back a tear.

@matt_dathan

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