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Dearly departing

Brian Taylor | 16:36 UK time, Wednesday, 9 June 2010

And so the number of the departing is increased by one. Rather a significant one at that.

Andrew Welsh of the SNP has indicated that he will not contest the Holyrood elections next year.

Mr Welsh was first elected to Westminster in October 1974: the second General Election that year, the one which brought the SNP a full football team of MPs.

That alone would give him a place in Nationalist history. More than that, though, Andrew Welsh has been throughout his career a quietly and thoroughly effective parliamentarian, subjecting governments of all colours to scrutiny on behalf of his constituency and nation.

Latterly, he deployed those talents at Holyrood as convener of the finance committee, stressing the importance of evidence-based argument.

However, alongside that role and that demeanour comes a deep commitment to his fundamental political cause.

Andrew Welsh was and is a passionate Nationalist.

Considerable characters

Those others who are standing down will perhaps forgive me for singling out the Angus MSP in this way.

I have known him since he was a tyro politician and I was a youthful political journalist, both of us in the north-east of Scotland.

But the list of the departing does indeed contain considerable characters and substantial experience.

One thinks of "Baillie" Bill Aitken, easily one of the most diligent and focused members of the present parliament.

Or Jamie Stone, whose contributions frequently enlighten and enliven.

Or Jim Mather, who has brought a real knowledge of the business world to Holyrood.

Or Dr Ian McKee, with his medical expertise.

Great scarf

Or Cathy Jamieson and Margaret Curran, who have contributed substantially at Holyrood as ministers and front benchers but who have now opted to pursue their political careers at Westminster.

Or Robin Harper, thoughtful, energetic, dedicated. Great "Dr Who" scarf, too.

To those I have forgotten, apologies. To those who will be "stood down" by the voters in due course, advance sympathy.

To those who are leaving voluntarily, salutations.

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