SNP conference celebrates Margo MacDonald’s life

Alex Salmond leads the minute's applause for Margo MacDonald. Picture: Reuters
Alex Salmond leads the minute's applause for Margo MacDonald. Picture: Reuters
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The life of Independent Lothian MSP and veteran Nationalist Margo MacDonald was celebrated with a minute of applause at the SNP conference.

The tribute, led by First Minister Alex Salmond at the start of the two-day gathering in Aberdeen, came as a private funeral for Ms MacDonald was held in Edinburgh ahead of a public event at the Assembly Hall on April 25.

Mr Salmond told the conference that the party had seen “many stars of Scottish politics” in its 80-year history.

And although she quit the SNP in 2003 to stand as an independent, she was still held in great affection within the party.

“No star has burned more brightly and shone more luminously than Margo MacDonald,” said Mr Salmond.

“I’ve been thinking about how best to recognise the contribution that Margo made to this party and this movement, and somehow a minute’s silence isn’t the Margo way.

“Let’s give a resounding round of applause to the great contribution Margo MacDonald made to the SNP.”

Ms MacDonald died at her home in the Grange last week, having battled ill health for some time.

The funeral at Mortonhall Crematorium was attended by family and her closest friends only. Flags outside the Scottish Parliament flew at half-mast as a mark of respect.

The celebration of her life on April 25 is “not to be an occasion for mourning”, according to her family, who are preparing a playlist of her favourite country music songs and have urged those attending to wear bright clothes.

In his keynote address to the conference today, Mr Salmond is due to say a Yes vote in the independence referendum not be a vote for him or the SNP, but a vote for ensuring Scotland’s future is in its own hands.

He is expected to say: “This referendum is not about this party, or this First Minister, or even the wider Yes campaign.

“A Yes vote in September is not a vote for me, or for an SNP government in 2016. It’s a vote for a government in Scotland that the people of Scotland choose, pursuing policies the people of Scotland support.”

And he was due to add that, following a Yes vote on September 18, work would begin immediately on the transition to independence, including the formation of an all-party negotiating team and the start of talks with Westminster before the end of the month.

He was expected to say: “The campaigning rhetoric will be over. The real work will begin.

“And on March the 24, 2016, Scotland will become an independent country and join the international family of nations.”