THE First Minister put it perfectly when she said: “We truly do stand on the shoulders of giants”.

At the Motherwell and Wishaw SNP Branch dinner held in honour of Dr Robert McIntyre, who became the SNP’s first ever MP when he won the Motherwell by-election in 1945, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to those who laid the foundations for the modern SNP in government.

The First Minister recalled how she and other young Scottish Nationalists would refer to Dr McIntyre affectionately as “Doc Mac”, and how during his outstanding service to the party – serving as party president from 1958 to 1980, party leader from 1947 to 1956 and SNP MP for Motherwell in 1945 – he became known as the “father of the Scottish National Party”.

Mike Russell MSP, the Scottish Government minister for Scotland’s place in Europe, went on to pay tribute to Dr McIntyre’s hard-fought victory in Motherwell, in which his tireless campaign team played an important part. That dedication is still evident in Motherwell & Wishaw SNP today. We have one of the country’s best campaign teams and during the evening our branch convenor, Rose Mavin, presented committed SNP activist George Fellows with an award recognising his contribution to the branch and to our cause.

Mike Russell expressed his determination that we in the SNP get better at documenting the history of our movement. We can all contribute to this by simply writing more things down. Our thoughts, our aspirations, our challenges and our successes. These words will help future generations understand and appreciate how our nation was finally able to restore our independence.

As we reflected on the past during what was an extremely enjoyable and at times emotional celebration, I thought about the present, and the future, for Scotland and for our movement. I write this as the first ever SNP MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw. My colleague Marion Fellows followed in Dr McIntyre’s footsteps as SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, and was one of 56 MPs sent to London after our historic success in the 2015 General Election. We have active SNP branches all over the country and the grassroots Yes movement is still as vibrant and as dedicated as ever.

Many of the arguments put forward by Dr McIntyre still resonate today. He took a straightforward view – one shared by an increasing number of people in Scotland nowadays – that it was absurd for Scotland to be ruled from a parliament in another country. Despite only being an MP for three months until the 1945 General Election, Dr McIntyre made numerous speeches arguing for better healthcare, education and housing for the people of Scotland.

Today we are still making those arguments but we make them from a fundamentally different position. The SNP have been in government for 11 years and during that time we have seen a government truly dedicated to the people of Scotland, delivering world-class infrastructure projects such as the Queensferry Crossing, protecting our citizens from prescription fees and the bedroom tax, ensuring that access to higher education is based on merit and not the ability to pay, and providing every new family in Scotland with a baby box to make sure that every child, no matter their background, will have an equal start in life.

The evening was wrapped up with speeches from two of our brightest young talents in Motherwell and Wishaw SNP. Cameron McManus became the youngest person ever elected to North Lanarkshire Council last year, and 17-year-old Julia Belke is doing a fantastic job as our branch women’s officer. Dedicated young activists like these two fill me with hope for the future of the SNP.

As the evening wound down and I reflected upon the past, present and future of our movement, Dr McIntyre’s words rang true in my head: “Now when I look around this room, for the first time I know in my heart that we will win Scotland free”.

Clare Adamson
MSP for Motherwell & Wishaw