Donald Stewart (Scottish politician)

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Donald James Stewart (17 October 1920 – 23 August 1992) was Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of Parliament (MP) from 1970 to 1987 for the Western Isles. He also served as President of the Scottish National Party (SNP) from 1982 to 1987.

Born in Stornoway, Western Isles, Scotland in 1920, Stewart became convinced of the case for Scottish independence at the United Kingdom general election 1935, and joined the SNP the following year. Left-leaning by political conviction, he subsequently joined the Labour Party, but remained a member for only a short time before rejoining the SNP.

He saw active service during the Second World War with the Royal Navy, remaining an SNP member throughout. He returned to Stornoway where he served as a councillor for many years (twice serving as the town's provost). He stood in the 1952 Dundee East by-election before election as an SNP MP in the United Kingdom general election, 1970. He was the SNP's first ever MP returned at a general election, and the last declared result in 1970, which caused great attention in the media.

Stewart was the SNP's sole Westminster representative from 1970 until he was joined by Margo MacDonald who won Glasgow Govan in the by-election of 1973. At the February 1974 General Election he was joined by six other SNP MPs, and at the October General Election of that year this number increased to eleven. Stewart became the SNP parliamentary group leader, with William Wolfe as the SNP leader overall.

Donald Stewart also attempted to introduce a Scottish Gaelic private members bill, but this was scuppered by certain politicians[weasel words]. The language had to wait until 2004 for official recognition from the devolved Scottish Parliament.

Stewart continued to represent the Western Isles until 1987 when he retired from front-line politics. At the General Election of that year his seat was gained by the Labour Party from the SNP and was consequently held until the 2005 general election when it was regained by the SNP's Angus Brendan MacNeil.

Stewart was working on an autobiography when he died in 1992.[1] It was edited and completed by his sister, and published in 1994 as A Scot in Westminster.

It was Stewart who famously described the SNP as a "radical party, with a revolutionary aim".


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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Malcolm Macmillan
Member of Parliament for the Western Isles
Succeeded by
Calum MacDonald
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Wolfe
President of the Scottish National Party
Succeeded by
Winnie Ewing