Jim Sillars, born in 1937, followed his father into work on the railways before joining the Royal Navy as a radio operator. When he later joined the Fire Brigade, he started his political career, active in the Fire Brigades Union and the Scottish Trade Union Congress. He became the Labour MP for South Ayrshire in 1970 and worked tirelessly for the establishment of a Scottish Assembly. He split from the Labour Party in 1976 to help form the Scottish Labour Party (SLP). Having lost his seat in 1979, he worked in South East Asia before returning to Westminster in the Govan by-election as an SNP MP. The Govan seat was lost in 1992, and he worked for as Assistant General Secretary at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in London, promoting trade and advising Arab governments on economic development and preparation for joining the World Trade Organisation. Sillars continues to write a column for Holyrood Magazine and occasional articles for various newspapers. He was married to the independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who died in 2014, and is an articulate spokesman for the cause of socialism and independence.