DOUGLAS Crawford, former SNP MP and industrial journalist with The Herald, has died suddenly, aged 62.

As MP for Perth and East Perthshire for five years from 1974 he was prominent among SNP's famous 11-strong Westminster contingent who established nationalism as a major force in Scottish political life.

The emergence of such a large group of nationalist MPs led to the abortive devolution referendum in 1979 and set in train the events that persuaded Labour to establish the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

John Swinney, the SNP leader, said last night: ''Douglas Crawford was an immensely talented and intelligent advocate of the case for Scottish independence. He contributed enormously to the formulation of the SNPs economic arguments in the 1960s and 1970s and was a powerful advocate of our case.''

George Douglas Crawford was educated at Glasgow Academy, where he was dux, and Cambridge University. He started his journalistic career with the then Glasgow Herald as industrial correspondent before later becoming features editor.

Mr Crawford was formerly married to Joan Burnie, the Scottish journalist, and they had two children. In later life he lived in Campbeltown, where he died.