The tributes on the passing of Charles Kennedy were heart-felt and well deserved.

I will always be grateful for the advice that he has offered me over the years. I will miss his counsel, his easy wit and generous good nature.

Charles had the ability to disagree with people on issues of policy without seeing their position as evidence of some moral failing. At a time when our politics in Scotland seems to be becoming increasingly divided and bad-tempered, this is an example that we can all learn from.

Charles’ principled opposition to the war in Iraq has been widely recognised. At a time when Labour and the Conservatives were largely supportive of intervention, in the House of Commons Charles gave voice to those who were saying “not in my name”. On this, as in so many things, his liberal instincts were in line with the views of people right across Scotland and the UK.

In the period after the election, I had spoken to Charles about the possibility of his standing for election to the Scottish Parliament next year. This was something that he was considering. There was also talk about his taking a seat in the House of Lords, where he would have made a substantial contribution to holding the government to account.

Of course he was disappointed to no longer represent the Highlands as an MP at Westminster. But he was looking forward to the future, and particularly to helping make the case for Scotland and the UK remaining at the heart of the EU. This was a cause that had always been close to his heart.

We should not seek to hide the circumstances of his death. As a country, we have a challenging relationship with alcohol. Charles was not unique in his illness. Far from it.

There are difficult questions to be asked over how we can reduce the harm that alcohol does to individuals and our society as a whole.

How we can ensure that people like Charles, with an illness, can get the treatment and support they need?

This is an issue that is too important to be swept under the carpet.

We knew Charles had a battle with alcoholism and it was one that he ultimately lost. I can only hope that people will have a greater understanding of alcoholism as a disease.

That he was such an outstanding public figure whilst he was ill shows how remarkable he was. It is important to remember how Charles lived and not just how he died.

The warmth of the appreciation for Charles’ life from far and wide has touched his family and friends.