Margo MacDonald

Margo MacDonald
Margo MacDonald MSP
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothians
Assumed office
6 May 1999
Personal details
Born 19 April 1943 (1943-04-19) (age 68)
Hamilton, South Lanarkshire
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Jim Sillars
Children 1 daughter Petra
Alma mater Dunfermline College
Occupation Teacher
Religion Christian

Margo MacDonald MSP (Scottish Gaelic: Mairead NicDhòmhnaill, born 19 April 1943) is a Scottish politician and former Scottish National Party MP and Deputy Leader. She is presently an Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Lothians region.



Margo was born in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, and educated at Hamilton Academy[citation needed]; she trained as a teacher of physical education.

Margo MacDonald is married to former politician and columnist Jim Sillars, who won the 1988 Glasgow Govan by-election for the SNP.

Her daughter Petra is married to one half of The Proclaimers, Craig Reid and they have four children (Rosanne, Lena, Peter and John).

Parliamentary career

A committed and vocal supporter of Scottish independence, Margo MacDonald won the Glasgow Govan by-election, 1973, as a Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate; Govan had until then been a Labour stronghold. She failed to retain the seat in the following general election of February 1974, but became Deputy Leader of the SNP in 1974, a post she held until 1979.

A political left-winger, she was prominent in the socialist 79 Group and left the party in 1982 due to this group's proscription.

She began to establish herself as a forceful presenter of various radio and television programmes, including the short-lived Colour Supplement for Radio 4 in the mid-1980s. She currently writes regularly for Scottish newspapers including the Edinburgh Evening News.

By the mid-1990s she had returned to the SNP and in 1999, she was elected to the Scottish Parliament, representing the Lothians. This period marked her becoming less influential with the leadership of the SNP, firstly under Alex Salmond and then John Swinney, having been viewed as being in the SNP Fundamentalist mould and having supported Alex Neil in the party leadership election in 2000. This culminated in her being placed fifth on the SNP list for Lothians for the 2003 Parliament election, whereas she had been first in 1999. This effectively ended her chances of being elected as an SNP MSP and she decided to stand as an independent. She was officially expelled from the SNP on 28 January 2003.[1]

She was re-elected as an independent MSP at the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, and again in 2007 and 2011. After her 2007 re-election MacDonald stood to become Presiding Officer, but lost the ballot to Alex Fergusson.

In 2002 she stated that she had Parkinson's Disease, and had known about the diagnosis for six years.[2]

My Right to Die

In July 2008, MacDonald co-operated with BBC Scotland in the making of a documentary about Assisted Dying. As a Parkinson's sufferer, MacDonald has been a long time campaigner for Assisted Dying, saying "As someone with a degenerative condition - Parkinson's - this debate is not a theory with me. The possibility of having the worst form of the disease at the end of life has made me think about unpleasant things. I feel strongly that, in the event of losing my dignity or being faced with the prospect of a painful or protracted death, I should have the right to choose to curtail my own, and my family's, suffering."[3]

In the programme, MacDonald travelled around Scotland and met with fellow sufferers and investigated the pros and cons of Assisted Dying. MacDonald's views on the subject are very well documented, and she is a very strong supporter for a change in the laws throughout the United Kingdom to allow Assisted Dying, stating "Online, euthanasia campaigners show viewers how to make an 'exit hood' to end your life, and I know people with terminal illnesses now make the awful trip to Mexico to buy lethal doses of drugs to take their own lives, all because of our current laws. I am in no doubt that our legal system must change."

See also


  1. ^ "Margo expelled from SNP". BBC News. 2003-01-28. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  2. ^ "Margo has Parkinson's". The Scotsman. 11 July 2002. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "BBC Scotland, 15 July, 2008". BBC News. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Rankin
Member of Parliament for Glasgow Govan
1973Feb 1974
Succeeded by
Harry Selby
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gordon Wilson
Senior Vice Chairman (Deputy Leader) of the Scottish National Party
Succeeded by
Douglas Henderson

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