Monday, 7 April 2014

A Party Of One

On Friday Scotland lost am inspiring woman who was truly one of a kind and her passing leaves me feeling sad, not only for Scottish politics but for her family who have lost a person of warmth, intelligence, wit and gallous will.

I heard the news on the car radio and was astonished to hear a gushing tribute to Margo from John Swinney, the finance secretary of the Scottish Government. What a difference a couple of decades make.

Margo was one reason why I became interested in Scottish politics a couple of decades ago.  I had recently returned to Scotland but I had followed the independence debate for many years. In England, when Scottish politics and independence were mentioned in conversation Margo’s name was the only one anyone seemed to know.  

By the time I became actively involved in the SNP in the 1990s, I naively thought that Margo had been forgiven for branding the party establishment as ‘tartan Tories’, but I was wrong.  One day I innocently mentioned Margo’s name in conversation with John Swinney and was told, “Don’t mention that woman’s name again in my presence.”  I was astonished by his tone because usually he spoke kindly about everyone - political friend or foe - and asked why. “She makes promises she’ll never be able to keep,” was the curt response.  Of course I’m paraphrasing here, but I vividly remember this conversation as it was an important factor towards my departure from party politics.

During my time involved with politics, I listened to Margo speak on a few occasions, although I never had the pleasure of meeting her.  She exuded a warmth, honesty and sincerity to her audiences which few politicians possess. Her politics were a little too far left for my own taste, but her unwavering belief in Scottish independence fitted perfectly with my own belief.

Although the SNP expelled her in 2003, if the tributes from the SNP hierarchy are to be believed, they realised she was a greater asset than a liability to the party and in recent years must have regretted not having her ‘inside’ rather than outside but often onside. Margo was too independent-minded to be a party politician and came into her own in recent years. (In case anyone is interested, I too found party politics stifling and decided not to renew my membership in the early 2000s).

A fitting memorial would be a Yes vote in September.  Another would be the passing of her assisted dying bill, which Patrick Harvie has vowed to continue, in the Scottish parliament.  My hope is that her end was dignified because she fought hard, throughout her own severe, debilitating illness, for each and every one of us to have that right.

Ultimately Margo MacDonald fought, and triumphed, as a party of one.  It was perhaps the only party that could ever hold her.

The video is from her speech at the Independent Rally in Edinburgh 2012.


JRB said...

Something very strange happened to me on Friday.
For, on hearing of the passing of this lady, a tear filled my eye.

Never before, and I doubt very much if ever again, have I been moved by the passing of a politician. I was genuinely saddened by the news of her death, and that in itself bears testimony to the high regard and depth of affection in which she was held, not just by me, but by the people of Scotland.

Whilst a few politicians may be remembered by their Christian name, rarely fondly, she will forever be unique in that she will be lovingly remembered with true warmth and affection as just – Margo

Alice Moore said...

I am a Govanite who attended a meeting and had the embarassment of only two of us turning up to receive the full blast of her rhetoric. She was young and wonderful - and then became the blond bombshell - who attended Westminster. All of that did not matter, of course, but I still remember it.

What I think now, is how hard she must have worked to turn a meeting of two into a bi-election victory - and then into a go ahead rise in a party.

I did not always agree with her - but what an amazing woman. I say,and sadly missed.

call me ishmael said...

The need for heroes and heroines is depressibgly constant, we are all, Ms Alice Moore, amazing, some are pushy, too.

I have written a response to this, mrs subrosa but I am sure it would be too wildly out of joint for the comfort of this space; it's back at home, if you get around to it.

Stewart Cowan said...

I'm not surprised that Harvey has vowed to continue to fight for euthanasia. He was one of two MSPs who invited the OPT to have a eugenics conference in the Scottish Parliament in 2010. They think there are too many people in Scotland, whereas there's hardly any of us.

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