A COUNCILLOR who quit the SNP over an email row has launched a bid to erect a memorial to one of its figureheads – thanks to Tory support.

Renfrewshire councillors last week backed a motion by Andy Doig to look at ways to commemorate the life of “pioneer” Roland Muirhead.

The independence campaigner and socialist, who was the first president of the SNP, was born and died in Lochwinnoch, part of the ward Doig has served for six years.

The local politician left the SNP in February 2017 after being deselected as a candidate for that year’s council elections. Announcing the decision to stand as an independent, Doig claimed the party’s position was related to a “spoof” email sent two years earlier which saw him accused of sexism and homophobia.

Now he has won over former colleagues at the SNP-run local authority to install a permanent tribute to Muirhead after proposing a motion that was seconded by Tory member Bill Binks.

Doig, whose wife Audrey is part of the council’s SNP group, said a plaque or similar commemoration could boost the area’s credentials in the case of any future City of Culture bid.

Main town Paisley lost out on the 2021 crown to Coventry after a high-profile campaign.

Citing tributes to rent strike leader Mary Barbour and trade union stalwart Willie Gallacher, he commented: “I am delighted that my motion to commemorate the man whom I call Lochwinnoch’s forgotten radical, the great Roland E Muirhead, commanded all- party support and was passed unanimously.

“Like previous memorials to Mary Barbour, which is also in my ward in Kilbarchan, and to the former MP Willie Gallacher, this was in recognition of Roland’s contribution to Scottish public life.

“I made the point to full council that Roland Muirhead dominated radical politics in Scotland from the late 19th century through to the mid 20th century.

“He started politics having anarchist sympathies but moved to the Liberals as the main vehicle to promote home rule for Scotland. After the Great War he moved like many to the Independent Labour Party (ILP), and when the ILP Home Rule Bill in 1927 fell he helped found the National Party of Scotland, and then the SNP in 1934.”

On Muirhead’s significance, Doig went on: “There were two constant factors to Roland Muirhead’s life – a belief in Scottish self-determination and a belief in social justice. He was the editor of the ILP newspaper ‘Forward’ for years, became a mentor of the great Tom Johnston, the wartime Secretary of State for Scotland, and ensured as first president of the SNP that the party condemned forcibly the rise of European fascism in the 1930s.

“Roland was also a great internationalist and early advocate of British decolonisation. He corresponded with Ghandi and supported both the Indian National Congress and the African National Congress.

“It is right and proper he should be remembered in his home village.”

The motion of the text reads that the council “supports moves to remember the life of Lochwinnoch-born social reformer and champion of decolonisation, Roland Eugene Muirhead”.

It goes on to state that the local authority will “work with interested groups to look at ways of commemorating the life of this Renfrewshire-born pioneer”.

Doig told The National this could take the form of a plaque erected in or around the McKillop Institute in the centre of the village. It is understood that a pub owned by the Muirhead family once stood on the site.