His announcement brings to five the number of veteran Nationalists who will be leaving Holyrood next year – Enterprise
Minister Jim Mather steps down in Argyll and Bute; deputy presiding officer Alasdair Morgan quits in the South of Scotland; Ian McKee departs in Lothians; and Chris Harvie retires from Mid Scotland and Fife.
Welsh, 66, will have completed a career in office as a Nationalist second only to that of Winnie Ewing. He joined the SNP in Glasgow in 1960, was a councillor in Stirling from 1974 and then in Angus, where he was provost from 1984 to 1987.
By then, he had been elected to Westminster in the intake of 11 Nationalists in October 1974 and served as an MP for 19 years, first for Angus South, then for Angus East, and latterly between 1997 and 2001 when the constituency became simply Angus.
He had been elected for the same constituency to Holyrood in 1999, serving first as a member of the parliament’s housekeeping committee, the Corporate Body, then as convener of the Audit Committee and latterly as finance convener.