Wefan Gymraeg

Mark Williams pays tribute to Charles Kennedy

Welsh Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Mark Williams MP has paid tribute to former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy in the House of Commons.

You can read Mark's tribute below, and watch it at the bottom of the page.

"It may be too sentimental to describe political parties, some big, some perhaps rather too small these days, as families. We could describe this House as a family perhaps today. Today, this family is mourning one of its finest sons. Much more important than that, our thoughts must first and foremost be with the Kennedy family, as all hon. Members have said throughout this very moving set of tributes to a great man. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West (Greg Mulholland), I was immensely proud to be elected in 2005 under the leadership of Charles Kennedy. I was proud to be one of his foot soldiers. I think back to the time when he ceased to be our leader. It was a particularly harrowing time. In later years, some of us still looked to Charles as the leader of our particular brand of Celtic liberalism.

"In 2005 I won by just 219 votes. I have often reflected on what the determining factor was. I have no doubt it was Charles Kennedy’s principled and brave stand on Iraq. When I once attributed my win to him, he told me with characteristic modesty, humility and generosity that I was talking utter nonsense. But I was right. His leadership of our party at that time was engaging, inclusive and inspirational. So too, we must not forget, were some of the perhaps not as frequent as we would have liked appearances in this Chamber in recent years. I still think of the doors opening, Charles arriving to sit down there in the corner in one of those flash light suits, glasses perched on the end of his nose. We knew we were in for a treat and that Charles Kennedy was going to say something of significance and importance. How good it was to rush home on a Thursday night to ensure you were there in time for Charles Kennedy on “Question Time”. Charles the great communicator, Charles with his great capacity, as everyone said, to put everyone at ease, including the nervous, new, unexpected MP, as he had been in 1983 and many of us were subsequently—everyone, from every walk of life.

"When he came to Wales, whether he was meeting students, health managers or party activists in Ceredigion, or farmers in the mart in Newcastle Emlyn, whether he was canvassing during the by-election at Tredegar or Blaenau Gwent, he had the same effectiveness with people. Those who know their psephology know that there are not many Liberals in Blaenau Gwent or Tredegar, but it did not matter. Charles Kennedy, knocking on doors, would enjoy meeting people, and he left an impression that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

"Charles Kennedy—dignified, compassionate, principled, honest, yet somehow vulnerable. Above all else, as others have said, he was a fully signed-up member of the human race, a rare breed—a politician who was universally liked if not loved."