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 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 16:39 GMT
Margo expelled from SNP
Margo MacDonald
The MSP said she puts people before party
Margo MacDonald has been formally expelled from the Scottish National Party following her decision to stand as an independent candidate in May's Holyrood elections.

Ms MacDonald said she had recently renewed her membership and that she would be looking for a rebate if party bosses threw her out.

Now the SNP has written to her saying it considered her decision as a "public resignation".

The outspoken MSP confirmed her intention to stand as an independent on the Lothians regional list on Tuesday.

Margo MacDonald
Margo MacDonald has had a turbulent career

At a media conference in Edinburgh she said she had no plans to quit the SNP even though she will be competing with it.

She said: "I paid my membership last month, so I'll be looking for a rebate if they throw me out.

"I used to be deputy leader of the SNP and in those days we used to try people before they were expelled from the party."

In June last year Ms MacDonald was effectively deselected when her placing on a list of top-up candidates for Lothian slipped from first to fifth, dashing her hopes of re-election.

The following month she said she would not be standing as an SNP candidate, but that she had not decided whether she would become an independent.

But she said she had now received "astonishing levels of support" from ordinary voters urging her to go it alone.

Party logo
A spokesman insisted the party would thrive

She said: "I have been impressed by the number of voters in Lothian who have said 'yes, go for it, because we don't think all that much about the way the parliament is operating just now'."

Ms MacDonald, a former barmaid and PE teacher, said that as an independent she would be freer to reflect voters' opinions.

She denied being "traitorous" by standing against the party for which she had a stunning by-election win in Govan 30 years ago.

"I think the parties have to be far more responsive to public opinion," she said.

"It's no longer enough for a party to take a line and then stick to it.

"I think we could do with some independents in the Scottish Parliament just to make it a better place."

Roseanna Cunningham
Roseanna Cunningham played the news down

Roseanna Cunningham, the SNP's deputy leader, insisted Ms MacDonald's exit would not affect the party's election chances.

And she said that if the result of the last election was repeated, Green MSP Robin Harper would lose his seat if Ms MacDonald was elected.

Ms Cunningham said: "Ms MacDonald says she wants more independent voices in the parliament but the reality is that her candidacy is likely to destroy any hopes that Robin Harper might have of returning as an MSP after the election.

"What this shows is that Ms MacDonald's decision to leave the SNP, despite being selected as an SNP candidate, can only be seen as a result of her disappointment at the result for the election for list places."

Announcing her decision Ms MacDonald said: "I've always put people before party. As such, I'm out of step with the party control freakery which is all too evident in the executive coalition and the SNP."

Alex Neil
Alex Neil said he was sad "it's come to this"

Alex Neil MSP, a long-time ally on the left of the party, said he believed more could have been done to keep her on board.

He said: "I think that every party and every political system should be big enough to accept that you will get people who have a particular individual contribution to make.

"We should be able to accommodate that within parties and within the general political system."

He added: "I think it is a loss for the party and I'm sorry that it's come to this."

See also:

25 Sep 02 | Scotland
17 Jul 02 | Scotland
11 Jul 02 | Scotland
09 Jul 02 | Scotland
18 Jun 02 | Scotland
15 Jun 00 | Scotland
22 Sep 99 | Scotland
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