Kennedy was lined up for Lords seat before death

Charles Kennedy was a former rector of Glasgow University. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Charles Kennedy was a former rector of Glasgow University. Picture: Donald MacLeod

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Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy was being lined up for a seat in the House of Lords before his death from an alcohol-related haemorrhage last week, it has emerged.

It comes as it is confirmed that Glasgow University, the academic institution where Kennedy developed his oratorical talents, is to stage a memorial service to mark the passing of one of its favourite sons.

In addition, the Glasgow University Union will hold a dinner to remember the late Lib Dem leader, who was president of the Union from 1980 to 1981.

The Highland politician was found dead last month in his Fort William home after losing his seat to the SNP in the recent election.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said at the weekend that Mr Kennedy’s political career was not over at the time of his death.

“I told him I wouldn’t be surprised if he was elevated to the House of Lords,” Mr Rennie said.

“He wasn’t finished with politics, he still had more to give.”

“I told him that I’d like him to consider standing for the Scottish Parliament and outlined to him how much time he’d have to make up his mind and the option of the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Constituency, but that if it was a non-starter to tell me quickly.

“He said it wasn’t a non-starter. He would think about it over the summer and let me know after that.

“He was attracted to the idea. He could see himself in the Scottish Parliament, he wouldn’t think it was such a change to him that he couldn’t do that.

Mr Rennie added: “The fact that he did not rule it out straight away gave me great encouragement.

“Whether in the end he would have done it I’m not sure.”

A UK Lib Dem spokesman reportedly said that Mr Kennedy was “at the top of the list” of party nominees for the Lords.

He added: “Charles loved parliament and he loved being in the House of Lords and he would have been a spectacular member of the Lib Dem group there.”

The university service will be held in the institution’s Bute Hall, where Kennedy graduated with an MA (Hons) degree in Politics and Philosophy in 1982 and near the Union where the politician-to-be triumphed in many student debates.

Bute Hall is also where Kennedy was twice inaugurated as rector, serving in that position from 2008 to 2014.

Kennedy’s death from a major haemorrhage, at his home in Fort William last week, has led to much sadness at his alma mater – particularly among students who knew him as rector.

“He really enthused people to get involved in things because he got so involved himself,” said Rory Slater, Glasgow University Union president.

Kennedy was president of the GUU at a crucial time in its history. A vote had just been taken to end its single sex status, so he was in charge at a time when it was welcoming its first female members.

Chris Sibbald, a former GUU president who ran the Charles Kennedy for Rector campaign, reflected on his more recent association with the university, which also awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2001.

Sibbald added: “He used to hold regular student surgeries and come to student events and he had cross-campus support. He was very popular. He loved the vibrancy of the university. He was a big university man. He had a huge interest in education, and for me and many others he was just a wonderful mentor.

“He recognised that his frontline political career was over, and with some compassion he wanted to impart his own knowledge and interests. He was just a thoroughly decent man.”

Satirical panel show Have I Got News For You has paid a warm tribute to the politician in an episode which aired on Friday evening.

The usually biting BBC programme remembered its sometime presenter and panellist by showing clips of his early and latest appearances.

As guest host Jack Dee read out the final scores, he told viewers: “Of course the scores have always been hotly contested on this show.

“Here’s a friend of the show who always had the right attitude even when he hadn’t won.”

The programme then cut to a vintage clip of a fresh-faced Mr Kennedy joking about how the Liberal Democrats were causing a shift in politics and admitting he would have been “very happy” to come second in an election.

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