Diane Abbott on Charles Kennedy

Photo of Diane AbbottDiane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington 1:43 pm, 3rd June 2015

I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to Charles Kennedy. As we have heard, he was a politician with all the talents, but as one of the MPs who were here at the time of the Iraq war and as one of the small group of Labour MPs that voted against the Iraq war, I remind the House that it was not just remarkable that Charles Kennedy was the one party leader who took the correct position against the Iraq war. Those of us who opposed the war from the beginning were very worried that in the end Charles Kennedy would not be able to lead his MPs through the Lobby because he was under pressure within his own party. We cannot understate the judgment and courage he showed.

We had the biggest rally in London ever against the war. I remember Charles Kennedy on the platform addressing the crowds and how excited and happy they were to hear him speak. His position on the Iraq war was the right position for him, and it was the right position for his party because he led it to its greatest ever victory. It was also the right position for Westminster politics because the public like nothing better than to see a politician stand on principle. He exemplified that.

Sometimes the people who pay the price for the personal ambitions of MPs are our families and our children. I would like the message to go out to his son that he should never cease to be proud of his father—the best of the political class and the best of men.

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