Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 18:10 UK

'Tireless' Lib Dem stalwart dies

Ray Michie
Ray Michie was the MP for Argyll and Bute from 1987 until 2001

Tributes have been paid to the former MP for Argyll and Bute, Ray Michie, who has died at the age of 74.

The daughter of Lord and Lady Bannerman of Kildonan, she chaired the Scottish Liberal Democrats from 1991 until 1993.

She was elected to the Argyll seat in 1987 and remained MP until she stood down from parliament in 2001, becoming a member of the House of Lords.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said she had a "first-class political brain".

Mr Kennedy said: "Ray Michie was one of my closest personal friends and professional confidantes in politics.

"The very sad news of her passing leaves public life much the poorer."

We have all lost a true friend of principle and of people
Charles Kennedy
MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber

Mr Kennedy, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: "Alongside her personal charm and tremendous sense of humour and fun was a first-class political brain which was able to judge individuals and issues with great shrewdness.

"She was never taken in by exaggeration and had a knack of getting right to the genuine heart of the matter. Her advice was always worth having.

"I was sorry when she decided to retire from the Commons but delighted when she accepted - after a little persuasion - my offer of a life peerage."

And he added: "We have all lost a true friend of principle and of people."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen said Baroness Michie had been one of the leading figures in the Scottish Liberal Democrats for many years.

"She always fought tirelessly for her constituents and for Scotland," he said.

"Ray was much loved by those inside and outside politics and will be very greatly missed."

Gaelic champion

The current Argyll and Bute MP, Alan Reid, added: "The people of Argyll and Bute will always have a special place in their hearts for Ray Michie."

First Minister Alex Salmond also paid tribute to the stalwart.

He said: "Ray Michie and I were elected on the same day in 1987 and were colleagues for many years. She was an outstanding member of parliament for Argyll and Bute, and someone incredibly highly regarded across the parties.

"It is of the calibre of Ray Michie that when I asked if she would serve on the Broadcasting Commission, she insisted on doing so despite her battle with cancer. It is a measure of her own personal courage and her commitment to the interests of Scotland. We will all miss her very much and I send my condolences to her friends and family."

The chairman of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, Blair Jenkins, also paid tribute to Lady Michie, and described her death as "very sad news."

He added: "She was enthusiastic from the start about the work of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission and even when her health was failing, gave us the benefit of her ideas, insights and questions."

A champion of the Gaelic language, she became the first peer to take the oath of allegiance in Gaelic as Baroness Michie of Gallanach.

She was educated at Aberdeen High School for Girls, Landsdowne House in Edinburgh and the Edinburgh College of Speech Therapy, before becoming a speech therapist.

Baroness Michie served as the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on Scottish affairs and was a member of the House of Commons select committee on Scottish affairs from 1992 to 1997.

A strong advocate of home rule, she was a participant in the early days of the Constitutional Convention.

She was a member of a number of other bodies, including Gaelic organisation An Comunn Gàidhealach, the National Farmers' Union of Scotland and the Scottish Crofters Union, and was also vice-president of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Married to a consultant physician, the mother-of-three lived in Oban.

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