Tributes from across the political spectrum have been paid to former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, whose death at the age of 55 has shocked Westminster.

Mr Kennedy had served as an MP for 32 years, but 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.

Mr Kennedy's leadership of the Lib Dems saw the party enjoy its greatest electoral success in 2005, winning 62 seats.

Three days before the 2005 election, Mr Kennedy personally wrote an article for the Wirral Globe in which he told our readers: "We want a decent society with real opportunity for young people, dignity for older people and a fair deal for families..

"We know that if you want good schools, better hospitals and safer streets we need to spend money wisely.

"In the last Parliament, the Liberal Democrats have been the real opposition over issues like Iraq, the council tax, top up and tuition fees and compulsory Identity Cards.

"At this election the Liberal Democrats are the real alternative in the Wirral."

His leadership ended after he admitted having a problem with alcohol.

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.

Former Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said Mr Kennedy's death "robs Britain of one of the most gifted politicians of his generation", while acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said he "brought courage, wit and humour to everything he did".

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I'm deeply saddened by the death of Charles Kennedy. He was a talented politician who has died too young. My thoughts are with his family."

Mr Kennedy is survived by his ten-year-old son, Donald, who was born during the 2005 election campaign.