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Former Highlands and Islands MSP and MEP Winnie Ewing dies aged 93

By Scott Maclennan

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Fergus and Winnie Ewing pictured together and Ms Ewing with supporters.
Fergus and Winnie Ewing pictured together and Ms Ewing with supporters.

Winnie Ewing, one of the icons of the Scottish independence movement, has died aged 93.

Ms Ewing will go down in history as the MSP who formally reopened the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a Highlands and Islands SNP MSP.

She told the first session: "I want to begin with the words that I have always wanted either to say, or hear someone else say: 'The Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on March 25, 1707, is hereby reconvened.'”

MS was well known before that as her election as a Westminster MP in 1967 was a turning point in the nationalist cause and marked the beginning of the modern SNP's later electoral success.

Winnie Ewing was born on 10 July 1929 and trained and practised as a lawyer before entering politics full-time – she joined the SNP in 1946.

She won the 1967 Hamilton by-election triumph which became one of the best known victories in Scottish political history. Not only did voters elect a nationalist MP but a woman when it was still relatively rare.

But she lost the seat in 1970 only to return in 1974 when she again famously won against the sitting Scottish secretary Gordon Campbell, to take the seat of Moray and Nairn.

Ms Ewing went on to the European Parliament where she sat from 1975 to 1999, becoming known as Madame Ecosse and being given the title Mother of the European Parliament.

Then in the first elections for the Scottish Parliament she took up a palace as MSP for the Highlands and Islands regional seat – before making her famous opening remarks.

In July 2001, she announced her intention to stand down as a list MSP for the Highlands and Islands ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections.

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