Gordon Wilson

We are saddened to share the press release from the SNP with you, below. Gordon had a long history with the Scots Independent newspaper and published quite a few books through us. He was a good friend the newspaper and its volunteers.


It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Gordon Wilson.

Gordon passed away earlier this morning in hospital after a short illness. He was leader of the Scottish National Party from 1979 to 1990, and was SNP Member of Parliament for Dundee East from 1974 to 1987.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon commented:

“Gordon Wilson’s contribution to the success of the modern SNP was immense and his loss will be keenly felt across our party. He was a fine and kind man, a loving husband, father and grandfather and a true patriot.

“From his early days promoting the case for independence on Radio Free Scotland to his 13 years of service as MP for Dundee East and 11 years as leader of the party Gordon was a passionate advocate for Scotland at every level.

“He was at the centre of many lively and passionate debates through the 1970’s and 80’s over how independence would be achieved and continued to play a part in the independence debate right though the referendum in 2014.

“Gordon was always forthright in his views and his commitment to seeing Scotland become an independent country was second to none. Even – perhaps especially – on those occasions when his views on tactics differed from mine, I always highly valued and appreciated his advice.

“My thoughts are with Edith and all of his family at this time. Gordon will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by all those who knew and worked with him in the SNP and across the country.”

Alex Salmond, who succeeded Gordon Wilson as leader in 1990, added:

“Not only was Gordon one of the masterminds of the SNP parliamentary breakthrough of the 1970s but he led the party through tough times in the 1980s. Holding his Dundee seat in 1979 and 1983 was crucial in retaining the credibility which allowed the SNP to prosper in the 1990s and beyond. The party, the national movement and Scotland owe him a great debt and my condolences go to Edith and the family.”

Deputy First Minister and family friend John Swinney said:

“Gordon Wilson was a giant of the Scottish National Party. He was critical to the transformation of the SNP from the fringe to the mainstream of Scottish politics. His administrative, campaigning and political skills built the SNP into a nationwide political force. The strength of the SNP today is built on the courage and tenacity of fine people like Gordon Wilson.”

We ask that the privacy of Gordon’s family is respected in the coming days. We will issue a further statement when funeral arrangements are made.

Gordon is survived by his wife Edith, daughters Margaret and Katie, and five grandchildren.


  1. I am greatly saddened that Gordon has left us too soon. My thoughts and sympathy are with Edith and the family. I know he will be greatly missed. All the SNP family will mourn his passing. We must carry on and fulfill his dream.

    1. Author

      Indeed, and we will Rina. Some tear jerking pictures have just been shown on BBC Scotland early evening news from the archives

  2. I had been in touch with Gordon quite a bit lately; he did not play up his illness.

    After he gave up being Secretary we had him visit and address Corstorphine branch; we took him to Haymarket for his train. While having a coffee, we asked him if he would run as Chairman of the SNP; he said he would spend time working in the garden.
    Within 18 months he was involved in the Scotland’s Oil campaign and candidate in Dundee East :-)]

    My thoughts – another friend and a great Nationalist gone – it is getting lonely here.

    1. Author

      It has indeed been a rough spell of late for losing some of our long serving nationalist volunteers

  3. Well, 79 is a good age, and Gordon Wilson certainly filled the unforgiving hour with sixty seconds worth of distance run. I met him for the last time in person at an SI Lunch a year or two back, but my most outstanding memory of him was the time, away back in the 1970s, when we had little in the way of positive achievement to show and I was furiously engaged for the cause in the pages of The Scotsman, as many will remember.

    Gordon invited me up to his house in Broughty Ferry for tea and a blether about the international aspects of independence, of which I had plenty of experience at academic level and also in practical, hands-on engagement in my work for the government of an independent European state of Scotland’s size with many hard-earned lessons for an independent Scotland. I found Gordon interested and receptive, and he accepted that formal party membership would have been incompatible with my then employment.

    While I hardly saw him in recent years, I regularly followed his very perceptive writings, when I found myself in agreement with his emphasis on political strategy as the art of the possible. I particularly agreed with his realistic view that Scotland should go for EFTA/EEA membership, rather than EU/EEA, until the world settles down to its still developing future permanent form and interim arrangements like the EU become superfluous.

    As an elder of the Kirk, Gordon was aware that, like Moses, he probably would not see the promised land in person. Like many others among us, he did not live to see Scotland achieve its ultimate goal, but all honour to him for the very real contribution he made towards that end.

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