A Difference of Opinion: The Autobiography of Jim Sillars


2 September 2021

Jim Sillars as a working-class schoolboy was told by the Deputy Rector at Ayr Academy that he would end up a 'common labourer', and by the Rector that he would 'make nothing of himself'. He went on to be elected an MP twice, reaching high levels of political leadership, and making a continuing high-profile contribution to public life and policy. During a 60-year career in politics he moved from being a Labour MP and staunch Unionist – known as the hammer of the Nats – to becoming a prominent member of the SNP. He won the Govan by-election for the SNP, controversially became a columnist for the Scottish Sun, and when he lost his seat in 1992 notoriously described Scots as '90-minute patriots'.

His 33-year marriage to Margo MacDonald and her involvement in nationalist politics is covered in the book. Though he is still a member of the SNP, both he and Margo clashed repeatedly with the SNP leadership, and he is now a sharp critic of the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and what he describes as the SNP's cult of personality.

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