Calls to rename Holyrood bar after Margo MacDonald

The bar at Holyrood could be renamed 'Margo's Snug'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The bar at Holyrood could be renamed 'Margo's Snug'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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It is the place where MSPs would go for a blether, to catch up on the latest political gossip, mingle with favoured journalists and dissect the issues of the day.

One of the most familiar figures in the Scottish Parliament bar was Margo MacDonald. Some even knew it as “Margo’s” because of her love of chatting to colleagues over a coffee or glass of wine there.

Now as colleagues and the country try to come to terms with her loss, renaming part of the bar in her memory has been suggested as one fitting tribute to Scotland’s most popular politician. Members of the committee that manages the Scottish Parliament are expected to consider a range of ideas for a tribute to the vibrant Independent MSP, who died on Friday, aged 70.

Flags at Holyrood were lowered to half-mast after her death – but many believe there should be a more permanent tribute.

Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame said the area of the bar where Ms MacDonald used to sit should be called “Margo’s Snug”.

Mrs Grahame said: “There were two things you would look for to see if Margo was at the bar.

“That was if her mobility scooter was parked nearby, and then you’d see her glasses and a mischievious look on her face.

“Margo would be delighted if it was called her snug. She would find it hilarious. She wouldn’t have wanted anything pompous.”

Mrs Grahame said she would also support the idea of a statue – but only if Margo’s trademark “bling” was included.

“If it was covered in bling, and you could change it every so often, that she would like,” she said.

She said she would remember Margo “first and foremost” as a friend: “It’s been an incremental friendship, slow burning over 15 years.

“We were both women of a certain age and we had a lot in common, like children and grandchildren. It was personal, it wasn’t political.”

Meanwhile SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern Jim Eadie suggested an artistic tribute.

He said: “Margo had an appreciation for the aesthetic. There could be a competition among people at the art college, and there could be an exhibition of the entries.”

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam MacArthur, of the parliament’s Corporate Body, said: “Everybody feels very low just now but I am sure there will be ideas coming forward for a lasting tribute. It is possible for any member to ask the corporate body to give consideration to the issue.”

Martgo served at Holyrood since its opening in 1999, being first elected as an SNP list MSP for Lothian, before becoming an independent in 2003 and twice winning reelection.

A book of condolence is expected to be set up in the parliament’s main business area early this week, and funeral announcements are also set to be announced.

Three witches with glasses of wine

Ms MacDonald, Christine Grahame and Mary Scanlon often gathered in the bar after Parliament business.

Despite their differing political stances – Ms MacDonald was an Independent, Mrs Grahame is in the SNP and Mrs Scanlon is a Tory – they were very close, choosing to chat about the personal sides of life rather than talking shop.

The trio used to joke that they were like the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Her good sense of humour shining through, Ms MacDonald bought them each a brooch with a witch on a broomstick, which they would wear while enjoying a glass of wine.

Mrs Grahame said: “She used to call us ‘hubble, bubble, toil and trouble”.