Bill Wilson (Scottish politician)
|Member of the Scottish Parliament
for West of Scotland
3 May 2007 – 22 March 2011
11 December 1963 |
|Political party||Scottish National Party|
Dr William Laurence "Bill" Wilson (born 11 December 1963) is a Scottish National Party politician and was a regional list Member of the Scottish Parliament for the West of Scotland between 2007 and 2011.
Wilson was born in Paisley in 1963 and attended the University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen and Queen's University Belfast. Whilst living in Oxford, employed in conservation by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and the University of Oxford, he became politically involved with the Labour Party. Upon returning to his native Scotland he became convinced of the case for Scottish independence and that the Labour Party's commitment to social justice was waning. In 1989 he joined the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Candidature and leadership challenge
He stood unsuccessfully as an SNP candidate for the House of Commons in the Glasgow Anniesland constituency in the 1997 General Election before standing in the Glasgow Maryhill constituency in both the 1999 and 2003 Scottish Parliamentary elections. Wilson was also elected chair of the SNP's Glasgow Regional Association in 2001.
In the aftermath of the 2003 election performance of the SNP he became convinced that a change of direction was needed by the SNP leadership. After discussing this with various SNP members he was persuaded to contest the leadership himself and launched a challenge against the SNP leader, John Swinney. His campaign focused on the issue of centralising the control of the party away from the branches and activists, and what he argued was the trend of placing the SNP ideologically in the centre ground of politics, away from the party's traditional position on the left-of-centre.
In the leadership contest that ensued at the SNP's 2003 Conference Swinney received 577 votes from those delegates voting to Wilson's 111 to remain leader. There were 17 "positive abstentions" (delegates present who voted in other ballots that day) and 60 non-voters. However, the following year Swinney resigned after sustained media speculation that he was unsuitable for the role. The immediate catalyst for Swinney's resignation was the SNP's poor performance in the elections to the European Parliament, although many spectators commented that Wilson's challenge also contributed to his resignation.
Shortly after the leadership contest he stood down as convenor of the SNP Glasgow Regional Association and was replaced in that position by his leadership campaign manager. Wilson stood as the SNP candidate for the Paisley and Renfrewshire North constituency for the May 2005 general election. He finished in second place behind James Sheridan, the Labour candidate.
As an MSP
At the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, Wilson stood in the West Renfrewshire constituency and also on the party list for the West of Scotland region. In West Renfrewshire he came third, the SNP dropping behind the Conservatives who took second place to Labour. He was elected on the regional list and sworn in as a Member of the Scottish Parliament.