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The astonishing career of Margo MacDonald

It was with great sadness that I read that Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP, had died aged seventy. She had suffered with ill health and Parkinsons for some time before her death.

margo

Ground breaking

She first came to public notice when she won the earth shattering 1973 Govan Parliamentary by-election for the SNP, a breakthrough that helped fundamentally shape Scottish politics ever since.

She resigned from the SNP in 1982 when it expelled the left-wingers of the 79 Group from their ranks, including one Alex Salmond. Both returned to the party to lead it (in Salmond’s case) and to become the deputy leader (in MacDonald’s) something that surely must be unprecedented in British political history.

Elected to Holyrood in its first elections in 1999 she left the party again as there was another SNP swing to the right as she was pushed down the election list from first to fifth place due to internal faction fighting prior to the 2003 election. She stood as an independent and won, not just in 2003 but in 2007 and 2011 too. It’s not just Labour who are able to create elected left-independents out of left-loyalists.

She made her mark not just campaigning for independence (and her death doubly sad because she will not see the referendum later this year) she also campaigned on a whole raft of issues including the rights of prostitutes, assisted suicide and moving a motion in Holyrood to make “illegal the waging of aggressive war”.

margo young

Walking her own path

She stated of the coming referendum “With the resources available to an independent Scotland, why would anyone choose to shackle their children to the most debt-laden, financially inequitable country in Europe?”

Her husband announced her death this morning saying “She was without question the most able politician of her generation. Today the brightest light in the Scottish political firmament has gone out. Her legacy will speak for itself.

“She supported and inspired generations of idealists and campaigners who, like her, wanted Scotland to take its place in the world. Her talent acted like a magnet and she gave her time so freely to so many for so long. Many will mourn, but the pain of loss will be borne most of all by those at the heart of her life; her children and her grandchildren, we will do all we can to honour her memory.”

An inspiring and independent minded figure, the impact of her political life was far deeper than many of the political figures who are better known south of the border.

Very nice STV obituary.

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