Gordon Wilson, former SNP leader, dies at 79

Gordon Wilson, the former leader of the SNP, has died at the age of 79, the party has confirmed.

Sunday, 25th June 2017, 1:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:04 pm
Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson, seen here in June 2016, has died after a short illness. Picture: Scott Louden

Mr Wilson, who led the party from 1979 until 1990 and served as SNP MP for Dundee East from 1974 until 1987, passed away in hospital after a short illness.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to Mr Wilson, who she described as a ‘true patriot’.

Ms Sturgeon added: “Gordon Wilson’s contribution to the success of the modern SNP was immense and his loss will be keenly felt across our party.

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“He was a fine and kind man, a loving husband, father and grandfather and a true patriot.

“From his early days promoting the case for independence on Radio Free Scotland to his 13 years of service as MP for Dundee East and 11 years as leader of the party, Gordon was a passionate advocate for Scotland at every level.

“Gordon was always forthright in his views and his commitment to seeing Scotland become an independent country was second to none. Even - perhaps especially - on those occasions when his views on tactics differed from mine, I always highly valued and appreciated his advice.

“My thoughts are with Edith and all of his family at this time. Gordon will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by all those who knew and worked with him in the SNP and across the country.”

September 2 1987: National Secretary John Swinney (left) and Chairman Gordon Wilson launch the SNP conference agenda. Picture: TSPL

Alex Salmond, who succeeded Mr Wilson as leader of the Nationalists in 1990, added: “Not only was Gordon one of the masterminds of the SNP parliamentary breakthrough of the 1970s, but he led the party through tough times in the 1980s.

“Hlding his Dundee seat in 1979 and 1983 was crucial in retaining the credibility which allowed the SNP to prosper in the 1990s and beyond.

“The party, the national movement, and Scotland owe him a great debt and my condolences go to Edith and the family.”

Deputy First Minister and family friend John Swinney added that the ‘strength of the SNP today is built on the courage and tenacity of fine people like Gordon Wilson’.

Picture: TSPL

Mr Swinney added: “He was a giant of the Scottish National Party. He was critical to the transformation of the party from the fringe to the mainstream of Scottish politics.

“His administrative, campaigning and political skills built the SNP into a nationwide political force.”

Former deputy leader of the SNP Jim Sillars added: “It was privilege to know and work with Gordon Wilson. He is owed unpayable debt of gratitude by the SNP and the Yes movement.

“Gordon’s leadership, work and dedication in the 1980s kept the SNP and independence alive. Honesty, integrity and moral compass were his hallmarks.”

Gordon Wilson speaking at the SNP conference in Rothesay, May 1980. Picture: TSPL

Mr Wilson is survived by his wife Edith, daughters Margaret and Katie, and five grandchildren.

September 2 1987: National Secretary John Swinney (left) and Chairman Gordon Wilson launch the SNP conference agenda. Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
Gordon Wilson speaking at the SNP conference in Rothesay, May 1980. Picture: TSPL