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Until early 2006, Charles Kennedy was Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party.
is a widely experienced speaker whose ability spans business and political seminars through to light-hearted after-dinner speaking. He has established himself as a broadcaster with a regular parliamentary sketch on the BBC World Service as well as occasional slots on Radio 2 and Radio 4.
Charles is also a regular television guest participant in an eclectic mix of programmes - from the usual political, news and current affairs diet through to "Cluedo", "Through the Keyhole", "Masterchef" and "Have I Got News for You!”
Charles was brought up and educated just outside Fort William, before attending Glasgow University. Following his graduation in 1982, he worked as a journalist with the BBC Highland Unit, before winning a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Indiana University in the United States.
In 1983 he was working towards a PhD at Indiana when the opportunity arose to seek the SDP nomination for the newly former Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat. He made a flying visit home, won the ballot and returned full time to the UK. The general election followed and - less than six weeks later - he was elected to the House of Commons, defeating the sitting Government Minister to become the youngest MP of the time.
During his term in parliament, Charles acted as a spokesperson on issues ranging from the welfare state to Europe, agriculture and rural affairs. He served on the All-Party Select Committee that introduced the televising of the chamber. He was the first SDP MP to back the merger with the Liberals after the 1987 general election, and moved a successful motion to this effect at the party conference that year.
Charles was elected the UK Liberal Democrats' Party President, the equivalent of party chairman, in 1990, and served in that post until 1994. In August 1999 he was elected as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, and he was appointed to the Privy Council in October 1999.
In his six years as Leader, he took the Liberal Democrats to their most successful election performance for some 80 years when they won 62 seats in May 2005. He stood down as Leader of the Party in January 2006.
In September 2007 Charles Kennedy was unanimously elected President of the European Movement in Britain. Following a keenly fought election, he was elected as Rector of Glasgow University early in 2008.
He is the author of The Future of Politics (2001) and is presently researching a project on youth and minority issues, arising from his period as a Visiting Parliamentary Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford.
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