MSP Margo MacDonald has died today.  The news, which shocked the world of Scottish politics and beyond, was announced this afternoon by her husband Jim Sillars.
Mr Sillars said: “My wife Margo MacDonald died peacefully at home surrounded by her family today at 1.10pm.

“She leaves a void in our lives which will be impossible to fill and her death robs the Scottish nation of one of its greatest talents.

“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.”

The MSP, an icon of the nationalist movement, had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Margo MacDonald rose to prominence after winning the Glasgow Govan Westminster by-election for the SNP in 1973. She later became deputy leader of the SNP and served as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament.

This evening tributes poured in from political allies and opponents alike.

First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute to her life and career.
“Margo MacDonald was one of the great rallying figures of Scottish nationalism. From her Govan by-election victory in 1973 she had a profound role in Scotland’s home rule journey.
“Very few politicians are recognised and known to the public by their first name – Margo was. Even fewer have the profile and talent to be elected comprehensively as an independent candidate – Margo had.
“I saw her only last week to talk tactics on the independence referendum. Despite great physical infirmity, she dispensed wise advice and her enthusiasm and commitment to the independence cause was bright and undimmed.
“The condolences of myself and Moira go to Jim, Zoe, Petra and all of Margo’s family.”

Gil Paterson MSP, commenting on behalf of the SNP Scottish Parliament Group, said:

“All of us in the SNP group are deeply saddened at the passing of Margo MacDonald.

“Margo has been a leading light in Scotland for over 40 years and an inspiration to people everywhere – her legacy is that she will continue inspire and encourage people in Scotland and far beyond to get involved in public life, and help make a lasting difference. That is what Margo did.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to her husband Jim Sillars, and her daughters Petra and Zoe at this desperately sad time.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, said: “I’ve always enjoyed the wit and sparkle she brought to debates in the chamber, but she could also offer a formidable challenge when it was needed, and showed long term dedication to the causes she chose to work for.

“Margo won’t now see the culmination of two debates she was deeply involved in; the referendum on Scotland’s independence, and the Assisted Suicide Bill which she introduced last year.

“But as both these debates continue, I am certain that campaigners on all sides will recognise Margo MacDonald’s contribution to Scottish public life, her vibrancy and her passion.”

Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick described Ms MacDonald as “brave, passionate and committed”.

She added: “She was a sparkling jewel in the Scottish Parliament, her contributions were incisive, intelligent and always got to the heart of the issue under discussion.

“Margo cared about people and, in return, they cared about her.”

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, said: “Margo’s passing sees a bright light, and one of the biggest personalities and characters of Scottish modern political life, go out.

“Her sense of humour, passion, integrity and unflinching desire to speak truth to power, meant she came as close to a political treasure in Scotland as I think it is possible to be.”

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, added: “Margo was a force of nature in Scottish life.

“The affection for her transcends party politics and political parties. Her personal kindness and professional charm will be missed in the parliament, throughout the Lothians and far wider.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson described Ms MacDonald as being “a huge figure in Scottish politics and a complete one-off”.

She added: “She sat as an independent, and independent she was – independent of thought, independent of mind and independent of spirit.

“From prostitution to assisted suicide, she was willing to champion difficult, challenging and morally complex issues to ensure they got the parliamentary consideration they deserved.”

There will be no by-election held, due to Ms MacDonald having been elected as an independent MSP on the regional list.


2014-04-04 16:40

RIP Margo, you will be missed.
2014-04-04 16:43

It is a very sad day for all of Scotland.
2014-04-04 16:44

RIP Margo, you were a shining example to us all and you will be sorely missed!
2014-04-04 16:46

My thoughts go to Jim and her family.And to all those who counted her as a friend.She will be a formidable warrior and warm heart sorely missed.

RIP,We will carry the fight on
2014-04-04 17:00

Very,sad news. A great lady. My heart goes out to all her family.
Lets all make her dream come true and vote YES.
2014-04-04 17:10

So very sad, an inspiring woman. RIP Margo
2014-04-04 17:27

She used to delight my old granny,a staunch Tory,with her ways and wiles.She will be sorely missed by a nation.My thoughts are with her family,friends and all who loved her.
2014-04-04 17:43

Margo was a lovely woman with a heart of pure gold. I was happy to have met her once. She was a credit to Scotland. God bless you Margot. I am sad you never lived to see independence but you will be there in our hearts. Sincere condolences to all her family and friends, of whom there are many.
2014-04-04 17:47

This is very sad news, Margo was a special person.
2014-04-04 18:07

She illuminated Scottish politics and was an inspiration and a joy to listen to.

Thoughts to all who shared in her life.

RIP Margo.
2014-04-04 18:16

Heartfelt condolences to Jim and all the family. Let’s get a YES for Margo.
2014-04-04 18:16

I wish the power was mine to have let Margo see that YES vote romping home. Desperately sad news. We have lost a giant.
2014-04-04 18:28

R.I.P. Margo MacDonald. You will be sorely missed. We must re-double our efforts to achieve your and our dream. We will raise a toast to absent friends on 19th September 2014
mountain man
2014-04-04 19:13

R I P,Margo,your sad passing will inspire us who remain to focus and fight even harder for freedom.
From The Suburbs
2014-04-04 19:47

This is very sad news. We may never see her likes again. R.I.P. Margo.

Time to redouble our efforts until 10 p.m. on 18th September.

Just do it for Margo.
Chateaulait 57
2014-04-04 21:07

Sad news, she will be sadly missed.
2014-04-04 22:37

If anyone should need some motivation to get out and vote on September 18 regardless of the weather or circumstances just think about Margo and go and vote for her.
2014-04-04 23:51

We must finish the job she started by voting YES , let’s do it for Margo
Mad Jock McMad
2014-04-04 23:57

The London media’s response:

To raise concerns that Eddie Izzard would be heckled by ‘Cybernats‘ at his ‘Better Together‘ gig in Edinburgh.

That is how much the likes of Severin Carrel in the Gruniad and Cochrane in the Torygraph are in touch with what is actually happening in Scotland.

Ignorant just does not begin cover the London Media’s and Better Together’s response.
2014-04-05 07:16

They’ve gone further than belittling her passing: the Guardian now has a snarky obituary piece for Margo – written by Brian Wilson.

Brian bloody Wilson, a man who stands for pretty much everything Margo loathed.
Marga B
2014-04-05 11:29

weegie – re. Guardian obituary – I couldn’t believe it – the article starts with a photo caption having a go at the SNP, and a good part of the text follows on in the same spirit, detailing how Margo was thrown out of the SNP but maintained her integrity etc.

How anyone (and here the suspicion must fall on Severin Carrell for the decision to commission Wilson of all people) can stoop so low as to use Margo’s obituary to snipe at the SNP I do not know.

Interestingly, my comment in protest has been removed, as it did not conform with their standards, but at least someone there will have read it.

Auld Rock
2014-04-05 13:11

The ‘incredible no people’ all speak highly of Margo, with the few exceptions identified above. So let them now raise their totally negative debate to one that she would recognise. Let this be her legacy.
My Branch here on the ‘Auld Rock’ send our deepest sympathies to Jim, her beloved girls and her grand weans and the whole of her extended family for their oh so cruel loss.
Margo just make sure that come Referendum Day on 18th September you hover each and every undecided voter and guide their hands to the ‘YES’ box.

RIP, God bless you.

Auld Rock
2014-04-05 16:32

Hear! Hear! Like the memory of my dear mum, a lifelong Labour voter, who became so disillusioned by the “Labour” Party’s inability to divorce itself from the Imperial British project and in her seventies became a convinced SNP supporter,
and who died in 2012, I mourn the fact that these proud patriots and visionaries will not have the opportunity to vote “Yes” for the Scotland of their dreams.

RIP Margo.

2014-04-05 16:34

Probably one of the best politicians and finest of people Scotland has ever seen passes away and what does the Scottish Sun lead with on its front page? Bruce Forsyth retires from strictly come dancing, lest we forget!
2014-04-05 16:39

Margo was very much a peoples person & admired by many regardless of party politics. Of course there’s the odd exception, I trust Margo would agree to try & not let them bother us, there’s far more important people & things to focus our energy on.

Bernard brought tears to my eyes for a second time last night and having just watched the 2012 Independence Rally video posted by Newsnet I’ve shed some more, but I’ve also smiled & laughed and listened to Margo’s words of wisdom spoken in her warm down to earth and humorous way.

This is Margo at her best and this is how I would like to remember her.

2014-04-05 19:27

I have a photo of Margo with my wee daughter Kirsty sitting on her knee at a Stirling SNP rally in the 1970’s. When asked she said “Aye, of course! She was a real gem and like so many others winna see the great day when we vote YES. We are indeed standing on the shoulders of giants. Let’s do it for them all.
From The Suburbs
2014-04-05 21:05

I am disgusted that some newspapers attempting to use Margo’s death to have a go at the SNP.

The SNP never expelled Margo as she resigned on a matter of principle.

After Margo’s election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, activists were increasingly concerned about putting out newsletters in working class areas headlining prostitutes rights rather than Labour’s failures over social justice or the benefits of independence.

In 2003 others on the list tried to undermine Margo but the same happened to other good MSPs like Andrew Wilson and Douglas Hamilton who didn’t resign despite being voted well down the delegate voting list. Margo effectively resigned by saying she would stand as an independent.

Margo would have been top of the list if it was down to OMOV rather than delegate voting.

As an independent MSP Margo achieved much more than she would have done as an SNP MSP and as an advocate for independence she never wavered.
2014-04-05 21:27

Quoting From The Suburbs:

I am disgusted that some newspapers attempting to use Margo’s death to have a go at the SNP.

Aye disgusted but Not surprised. They will use anything and everything to attack Independence.


You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.