Winnie Ewing (Alamy Stock Photo)

75 – Winnie Ewing elected as SNP MP

November 2, 1967

IT was the moment that gave birth to the modern SNP.

Winnie Ewing’s stunning victory in the Hamilton by-election delivered the party its second-ever MP, but the famous words from her victory speech – “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on” – had much deeper reverberations and embodied the ethos for the independence campaign for decades to come.

Winnie Ewing with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond (PA Archive)
Winnie Ewing with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond (PA Archive)

The by-election in the working-class Labour heartland of Scotland was not on anybody’s radar to cause an upset.

SNP bosses had told the young Ewing, a solicitor: “Try to come a good second in order to encourage the members” as the party was still struggling to gain a foothold in Scottish poltics.

What Ewing acheived was a staggering 38% swing from Labour.

She later remarked: “I overdid it, and as a result my life changed for ever.”

Ewing’s stint as Hamilton MP only lasted three years, she lost the seat at the 1970 General Election.

But the by-election result had a much more profound effect on SNP fortunes, giving members belief and voters confidence in backing them, a dynamic fuelled by the “It’s Scotland’s Oil” case for independence throughout the 1970s.

Ewing was far from done with politics – she went on to become an MEP and later an MSP.

The Ewing political dynasty is continued by two of her children, Annabelle and Fergus, both SNP ministers.