South Yorkshire politicians have been paying tribute to Charles Kennedy, who has died aged 55.
The former Liberal Democrat leader passed away yesterday at his home in Fort William, Scotland, his family said.
His family said they were devastated to lose a ‘fine man and loving father’. No cause of death has been given but police said it was not suspicious.
Mr Kennedy, who led his party from 1999 to 2006, lost his seat Ross, Skye and Lochaber last month.
Sheffield Hallam MP, Nick Clegg, said he was ‘one of the most gifted politicians of a generation’.
Mr Clegg, who resigned as Liberal Democrat leader last month, said: “Nick Clegg paid tribute to his predecessor as Liberal Democrat leader: “Charles’s untimely death robs Britain of one of the most gifted politicians of his generation.
“Charles devoted his life to public service, yet he had an unusual gift for speaking about politics with humour and humility which touched people well beyond the world of politics.
“He was a staunch internationalist and passionate believer in Britain’s role in Europe, yet he was a proud Highlander, Scot and British parliamentarian.
“He was one of the most gentle and unflappable politicians I have ever known, yet he was immensely courageous too not least when he spoke for the country against the invasion of Iraq.
“He led the Liberal Democrats to our party’s greatest electoral successes, yet he always remained modest about his huge achievements.
“Whenever I asked him for advice, he was unfailingly kind and wise.
“Most of all, I will never forget the pride and love with which he would talk about his own family, most especially his devotion to his son Donald.
“My heart goes out to his sister and brother and to Sarah and Donald at this tragic time.”
The loss of his Westminster seat came after an election campaign during which Mr Kennedy was forced to take a break following the death of his 88-year-old father Ian in April.
He is survived by his 10-year-old son Donald, who was born during the 2005 election campaign.
Doncaster North MP and former Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: “Charles Kennedy was a principled, decent man who stood up for what he believed. His death is a tragic loss. My heart goes out to his family.”
Sheffield Lib Dem peer Lord Paul Scriven, said: “Charles Kennedy a warm, witty, and friendly human being. Political he has been proven right on the biggest issue in recent times, Iraq.”
Sheffield councillor Jack Scott, who represents the Arbourthorne Ward, tweeted: “Charles Kennedy stood up for Europe and against invading Iraq. Will be sadly missed.”
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said: “Really sorry to hear Charles Kennedy has died. Decent, sincere and funny man who will be missed. My love to his family.”
Mr Kennedy, a father-of-one, had been leader of the Liberal Democrats between 1999 and January 2006 - when he stood down days after admitting he had a problem with alcohol.
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 24.
He took over as leader from Paddy Ashdown in 1999, and in that role was one of the most vocal critics of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In the 2005 general election he took the party to what was then one of its best general election results, winning 62 seats.
But just months later, following months of rumours about his drinking, Mr Kennedy dramatically admitted he had been receiving treatment for an alcohol problem and said he was calling a leadership contest.
While he had initially declared that he wanted to carry on he was forced to stand down in the face of the threat of mass resignations by senior colleagues.