WHEN Ronnie Cowan won a landslide victory for the SNP in a mock election as an 11-year-old schoolboy he didn’t anticipate the result would be repeated in real life more than 40 years later.

In May the former Greenock businessman triumphed over Labour’s sitting MP Iain McKenzie, with an 11,063 majority, to become the new SNP MP for Inverclyde.

It was a moment of huge happiness for the 55-year-old, who just months before had spent four days in bed, such was his bitter disappointment with the referendum result. He had led the Yes campaign in Inverclyde for two years and all his work had appeared to have come to nothing.

“I was very depressed after the referendum. I lay in my bed for four days. I just thought we were down and beaten,” he said.

“Then the SNP membership started to pick up and pick up. My own branch went from about 140 members to 1400 and I realised ‘this is not dead, there is something happening here and people aren’t walking away’.”

Cowan was subsequently selected as the local SNP candidate for the General Election and threw himself into the campaign, knocking doors on the Larkfield estate at 9pm on polling day to get SNP voters out.

He is now a member of the party’s Constitution group at Westminster and sits on the Commons’ Select Committee on Public Administration and the Constitution.

The new MP grew up in a working class Labour supporting household in Greenock, though from a very early age he knew that Labour wasn’t his party.

His father, the former Scotland international footballer Jimmy Cowan, ran a pub in Greenock after retiring from football. Cowan senior is best known for helping secure a famous 3-1 victory over England at Wembley in 1949, and during his career was one of the few footballers to play for rival teams St Mirren and Greenock Morton.

Jimmy passed away in 1968, but Cowan’s mother May, a former millworker, still lives in Greenock and was proud to see her son become her local MP.

Educated at Greenock Academy, Cowan joined the SNP at 16, though let his membership slip during his early adult life, re-joining the party about ten years ago.

After leaving school Cowan got a job as a trainee computer operator at Playtex in Port Glasgow, and went on to build a career in IT, latterly running his own company which focussed on finding IT solutions to business problems.

He recognises that Inverclyde has some of the largest levels of social and economic deprivation in Scotland, and says his priority as its new MP is to help turn around the area’s fortunes.

He is positive that Ferguson’s shipyard in Port Glasgow, which was rescued by engineering tycoon Jim McColl a year ago, is once more looking like it has a long-term future.

“I am in parliament as the MP for Inverclyde and my aim is to represent the people of the area,” he said.

“The area has suffered very badly since the decline of heavy industry but things are beginning to look up.”