THE BLOG

Charles Kennedy, RIP

02/06/2015 09:23 BST | Updated 01/06/2016 10:59 BST

Charles Kennedy's death, at the age of just 55, is a personal tragedy and a huge loss to British politics. For those of us who knew him, it's indeed difficult to even write that he's gone.

At our weekly meetings of The House magazine MPs and peers board, Charles would often light up proceedings with a flash of wit, always ready with an anecdote and concise insight. He loved politics and, in many ways, lived for politics.

With a difficult personal life overshadowed by his drink problem, his day job both in the Highlands and at Westminster was his main focus. That's why the loss of his Ross, Skye and Lochaber seat at the general election - after 32 years - was such a shattering blow.

Charles lost both his parents in the past two years. His mother Mary died in 2013 and his father Ian passed away after a long illness this April, prompting him to suspend his general election campaign.

A former Baby of the House in 1983, in recent years he may have lost some of his edge but he never lost that youthful twinkle whenever there was a bit of political gossip or intrigue.

The phrase 'a man of principle' can become hackneyed, but for Charles it was all too true. His courage in leading his party against the Iraq war, a move that helped the Lib Dems to their biggest share of seats, was much praised. His decision to vote against the formation of the Coalition in 2010 - the only MP in his party to do so - again underlined how he refused to compromise his beliefs.

Perhaps his most courageous decision however was his acceptance after his resignation as party leader that he was 'coming to terms with and seeking to cope with a drink problem...a serious problem indeed'. As he himself so memorably once said: "courage is a peculiar kind of fear".

Tributes have poured in from Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown today. But our thoughts are with his family, Sarah and his son Donald.

This blog originally appeared in today's edition of The Waugh Zone - subscribe to receive it daily straight to your inbox here