Dr Robert Douglas McIntyre (Gaelic: Raibeart Dùghlas Mac an t-Saoir; 15 December 1913 – 2 February 1998) was the Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) from 1947–1956 and a doctor by profession. He came to prominence in 1945 when he won the Motherwell by-election, becoming the SNP's first ever Member of Parliament (MP).
McIntyre was born in Motherwell, the son of a United Free Church of Scotland Minister. He was educated at Hamilton Academy, Daniel Stewart's College, and the University of Edinburgh, where he studied medicine. At university he was chairman of the University Labour Party.
He graduated in 1938 and worked as a general practitioner in England and Scotland, and also worked at Stirling Royal Infirmary. He later developed an interest in the area of public health and studied at the University of Glasgow to gain a Diploma in Public Health. After qualifying, he worked in the field of public health in Glasgow, Paisley, and Greenock.
McIntyre had joined the SNP in the 1930s and became a party's organiser when it was still headed by John MacCormick, but he resisted MacCormick's later attempts to change the SNP from supporting a policy of full Scottish independence to supporting a modicum of Home Rule. MacCormick would leave the SNP in 1942 from which point McIntyre became the party's leading figure, becoming Secretary in 1942, then Chairman (leader) in 1948.
On 13 April 1945, shortly before the end of World War II, McIntyre won the Motherwell by-election, with a majority of 617 votes over his Labour opponent. He made history as the first SNP candidate to be elected as a Member of Parliament. Upon arriving at Parliament, he had difficulty finding the customary two sponsors to allow him to take his seat, as members did not want to break party loyalties. Two reluctant sponsors were found but McIntyre chose to present himself to the Speaker alone, later writing "I very clearly stated to the people of Motherwell and Wishaw that I would give no allegiance to the London-controlled parties". A vote to waive the rule was lost, and eventually he accepted the sponsorship of James Barr and Alexander Sloan "under protest".
He lost the seat only three months later in the 1945 general election, to the Labour candidate. He then returned to his medical practice, working in Stirling Royal Infirmary to treat and prevent tuberculosis. However, he continued to stand in every subsequent general election, up to October 1974.
After McIntyre stood down as leader in 1956, he was elected as President of the Scottish National Party, holding this office until 1980. In 1956 he was also elected as a member of Stirling Burgh Council, a position he held until 1975. He was Provost of Stirling from 1967 to 1975. MacIntyre was first (and last) vice-president of the Celtic League (from 1961–71). Gwynfor Evans was president at the time.
Robert McIntyre died on 2 February 1998.
- Detailed biography of McIntyre by Dick Douglas, former Labour and SNP MP
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Robert McIntyre
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Motherwell
April 1945–July 1945
|Party political offices|
|National Chairman (Leader) of the Scottish National Party
|President of the Scottish National Party