Alex Salmond pays tribute to Winnie Ewing

Former Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, has paid tribute to Winnie Ewing whose death was announced today.

“Winnie Ewing was the most influential Scottish nationalist of the 20th century.

Her triumph in the Hamilton by-election of 1967 defined modern Scottish nationalism and started a period of unbroken parliamentary representation which has lasted more than half a century.

This dramatic breakthrough was encompassed in her own phrase “Stop the world Scotland wants to get on”, and with the support of her family she continued to dazzle the Scottish political scene.

Many politicians adapt to the climate. Few make the political weather. Winnie Ewing was one of those.

She defeated a sitting Tory Scottish Secretary in February 1974 in Moray and Nairn and then, after the rout of the SNP in 1979, bounced back within weeks to emerge victorious in the Highlands and Islands Euro constituency.

Over the next two decades she became known in Europe as Madame Écosse, and then in 1999 opened the Scottish Parliament from the Chair with the historic and ringing phrase that “The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened".

Her influence on Scottish nationalism was fundamental both in giving it star quality, electoral credibility and an internationalist outlook. She is one of the very few politicians who was universally known by her first name.

Her canvassing approach was legendary, and single handed she could light up the dreichest of high streets and inject energy and momentum into any campaign. As a young politician, I witnessed this extraordinary ability first hand and never forgot the lessons she taught me.

Above all she was a Scottish patriot, indomitable in her approach and a courageous and loyal colleague. May God rest her brave soul and extend comfort and consolation to Fergus, Annabelle, Terry and all of the family.”

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