Norman Lamb makes Charles Kennedy pledge in his leadership bid

Norman Lamb at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norman Lamb at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has pledged to restore the Liberal Democrat vote in his memory.

Charles Kennedy. Photo credit:Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Charles Kennedy. Photo credit:Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb marked the start of his leadership campaign by vowing to secure Charles Kennedy's legacy by rebuilding the Liberal Democrat voice.

Mr Kennedy's devastated family announced he died suddenly at home after serving as an MP for 32 years.

The former Liberal Democrat leader, 55, who had fought a public battle with alcohol, was ousted from his Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency last month as the SNP swept the board north of the border in the general election.

Yesterday Mr Lamb, 57, cut short out of respect the start of his campaign around the country to fight for the top job.

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After the Liberal Democrats' catastrophic election outcome in May, Mr Lamb said under his stewardship the party would work to rebuild itself in Mr Kennedy's memory.

He said: 'Let's make Charles' legacy rebuilding the Liberal voice in this country. We owe it to Charles to rebuild, working together, united, to fight for his legacy and to demonstrate that all those things he fought for have not been lost.'

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He added: 'My heart goes out to all of his family and friends.'

Mr Lamb served as Mr Kennedy's parliamentary private secretary during his time at the head of the party and described him as 'a great man and principled politician, who always fought for what he believed in'.

'Charles was a fundamentally decent man, with wit and humour, and never lost his cool. I never once saw him angry with people,' Mr Lamb, a former care minister, said. 'He fought for social justice, internationalism, bringing people together and not dividing them.'

The cause Mr Kennedy's death is not yet known but it is not thought to be suspicious.

The father-of-one led the party to its best-ever election result in 2005 on the back of his opposition to the Iraq War two years earlier.

But he resigned early in 2006 after revealing he had been receiving treatment for a long-standing alcohol problem.

His political career began in the Social Democratic Party, winning the Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat in 1983 to become the youngest MP of the time at the age of 23.

A statement released on behalf of his family yesterday said: 'We are obviously devastated at the loss.

'Charles was a fine man, a talented politician, and a loving father to his young son. We ask therefore that the privacy of his family is respected in the coming days.

'There will be a post-mortem and we will issue a further statement when funeral arrangements are made.'

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