More than 100 SNP members and supporters gathered in Peterhead’s Palace Hotel, Peterhead recently to commemorating the 40th anniversary of Douglas Henderson gaining the old East Aberdeenshire constituency from the Conservatives to become the area’s first ever SNP MP at the election on February 28, 1974.
Guest speakers at the event were First Minister Alex Salmond, local MSP Stewart Stevenson and Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford.
Also attending the event was Alex Farquhar, who was the SNP candidate in the 1970 General Election who made the seat winnable by attracting 30% of the vote and over 9,000 votes in what was the SNP’s best showing in the North-east at that time.
Peterhead Branch SNP President, Bob Ritchie, who was the party’s election agent in the 1960s and 1970s regaled the audience with tales from those early elections, including one where a lost election deposit in 1964 had to be financed with a bank loan, backed up by twenty guarantors at the insistence of the bank. And all for the princely sum of £200!
Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said: “We owe a great debt to Bob Ritchie, Alex Farquhar and the late Douglas Henderson, who could see Scotland’s potential and worked so hard over decades to improve the prospects of people in this area..
“I still get constituents coming to me who remember Douglas Henderson fondly, not only as a hard-working constituency MP but also as a very genuine person.
“His loss, in 2006, was sorely felt but his legacy lives on and I know he would have been playing a full and active part in the current Referendum campaign had he still been with us.”
Stewart Stevenson MSP added: “This was a very timely event with the Referendum only 200 days away. It was useful to pause and reflect on the support given by the people of the North-east over the past 40 years which has helped us get to this position in our nation’s history.
“If we are to make the country we all Scotland believe it can be, we need personal tax powers, business tax powers, social security powers, employment powers, powers over Scotland’s budget, powers over the minimum wage, immigration powers and the powers to represent Scotland internationally.
“In other words, the same toolbox of powers that other independent countries take for granted.”