Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 15:22 UK

Nationalists mark 75th birthday

Winnie Ewing
Veteran SNP member Winnie Ewing celebrates the party's anniversary

Supporters have gathered in Stirling to mark the 75th anniversary of the Scottish National Party.

Veteran politician Winnie Ewing was joined by Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford to cut a special birthday cake for the event.

The party was formed following a merger between the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who is in China, has sent an email to the party's 15,000 members to mark the occasion.

In it he told them the last 75 years had seen "Scotland and the SNP journey together".

The SNP's first ever MP was Dr Robert McIntyre, who was elected to the House of Commons in April 1945 after winning the Motherwell by-election.

'Much missed'

However, he lost his seat to Labour some three months later in the 1945 general election.

The party secured a famous by-election victory when Mrs Ewing won the Hamilton seat in November 1967.

She later became an MEP and MSP, and as the oldest member of the new Scottish Parliament, chaired proceedings when the newly-elected MSPs met for the first time in May 1999.

Speaking in Stirling, Mrs Ewing said: "It's hard to believe that nearly 10 years have passed since I had the honour of reconvening the Scottish Parliament.

"It was one of the proudest moments of my political career.

"That special day marked a turning point in the political story of Scotland. Even when I won Hamilton in 1967, few people would have thought Scotland would have advanced so far as to have our own law-making parliament.

"To see the SNP at 75, forming our government in the Scottish Parliament is something even fewer people would have predicted never mind expected."

The SNP was the largest opposition party in Holyrood for the first eight years of devolution.

They took power in May 2007 after winning one more seat than Labour in the Scottish Parliament elections, and went on to form a minority administration.

In his email to party members Mr Salmond said: "The last two years have seen fresh landmarks in the SNP story, with the triumph at the last Holyrood election, including the election of the late and much missed Bashir Ahmad as the first Scots Asian MSP, and then last year's epic by-election victory in Glasgow East."



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