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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
SNP veteran Ewing to retire
Winnie Ewing
Mrs Ewing was first to take the oath in the reconvened Scottish Parliament
One of Britain's most experienced parliamentarians has signalled her intention to retire from the political arena.

Winnie Ewing, who celebrated her 72nd birthday earlier this month, said she hoped to spend more time with her two grandchildren Ciara, three, and one-year-old Jamie.

She will stand down as a list MSP for the Highlands and Islands during the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections.

She said she also hoped to be able to visit friends made over her long career, during which she served in the Scottish, Westminster and European parliaments.

The opening of the Scottish Parliament was a wonderful moment and presiding over that as the oldest member was great.

Winnie Ewing

In 1967, Dr Ewing was elected to the Westminster Parliament after sensationally winning the Hamilton by-election for the Scottish National Party in 1967.

In Europe, Dr Ewing was known as "Madame Ecosse" and given the title "Mother of the European Parliament" when she served from 1975 to 1999 as an MEP.

Speaking from her home in Milton Duff, near Elgin in Moray, Dr Ewing said her most treasured memory was the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

She said: "I've always been planning to stand down in 2003 - this is my third parliament after all.

"I don't see my grandchildren as often as I would like and so I plan to see a lot more of them. Also, I'm writing a book and if I haven't finished it by 2003 I'll be able to work on it then.

"I have had very little leisure time and I've missed that. I have a nice little car and I'll have the opportunity to see friends in Argyll, Caithness and in England, as well as those I met on the continent."

Fergus Ewing
Mrs Ewing's son Fergus is an MSP
Dr Ewing, who joined the SNP in 1946, is head of a political dynasty.

Her son Fergus and daughter-in-law Margaret are MSPs in Edinburgh and daughter Annabelle is now a Westminster MP.

Asked what her most favourite memory was she said: "The opening of the Scottish Parliament was a wonderful moment and presiding over that as the oldest member was great.

"I was sitting where all the members swore the oath and they came down from either side of the chamber and did it in pairs.

"My son and daughter-in-law came down at the same time to swear the oath in front of me and that was a great moment, as was the speech I made immediately after that."

She told the opening session: "I want to begin with the words that I have always wanted either to say, or hear someone else say - the Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on March 25, 1707, is hereby reconvened."

See also:

08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Salmond hails poll standing
26 Sep 99 | Scotland
SNP veteran appeals for loyalty
31 Aug 99 | Scotland
Ewing to stand in by-election
04 Aug 99 | UK Politics
SNP seeks spirit of 1967
28 Jun 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
MSPs pledge allegiance to 'Scottish people'
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