Obituary: Dr Robert McIntyre

Robert Douglas McIntyre, physician and politician: born Dalziel, Lanarkshire 15 December 1913; married 1954 Letitia Macleod (one son); MP (Scottish Nationalist), Motherwell and Wishaw 1945; Chairman, Scottish National Party 1948-56, President 1958-80; died Stirling 2 February 1998.

Dr Robert McIntyre is regarded as the father of the SNP. He had the distinction of being the Scottish National Party's first MP and remained for the next 50 years the friend and mentor of its members and leadership.

Towards the end of the Second World War, in April 1945, he won Motherwell at a by- election and held it until the General Election that July; he packed many speeches into his three months at Westminster; those on education and Scotland ring as true today as then.

He took the straightforward view, shared nowadays by more and more voters, that it is absurd for Scotland to be ruled from England, and he welcomed Scotland's entry to the European Union as a full member like Belgium, Ireland, Finland, and other small countries.

The press at the time (never a friend of the SNP) accused him wrongly of refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. In fact, he could not find the requisite two sponsors. So he walked down to the Speaker's chair alone. The Speaker refused to recognise him. This episode reflected badly on the House of Commons and two sponsors did emerge.

A son of the Manse, McIntyre qualifed as a doctor at Edinburgh University and specialised in chest complaints. He went on to be consultant chest physician for Stirlingshire and Clackmannan from 1951 to 1979. As so often happens, he died of his own speciality.

During the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s he built up the party throughout Scotland, standing as a parliamentary candidate in ery general election from 1945 to 1974 and in a by-election in 1971 - 13 times. He also encouraged activists to stand as candidates. I was one of them. My first political speech was given in his constituency in his presence, and this led to my name being put forward for the by-election at Hamilton in November 1967. He was always willing to give me advice on all political matters, particularly as to how to cope as a lone SNP MP with benchfuls of Labour MPs from Scotland whose behaviour I found despicable.

The SNP now contest every Westminster seat. But it was not always the case. I remember how movingly McIntyre spoke at a meeting in a room in Stirling packed with SNP candidates. "Once I had to use all the arts of persuasion to find one man or one woman to stand so that I would not be our only candidate. Now when I look around this room, for the first time I know in my heart we shall win Scotland free." Punch once carried a cartoon of him brandishing a sword with the caption, "McIntirely Alone".

McIntyre had an intense love of sailing. He was known to all in the Scottish National Party as "Doc Mac", and admired by us and by thousands of Scots for his dour struggle for our independence through all the wilderness years.

- Winifred M. Ewing

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat