Robert Gordon Wilson was born 1938. He came to national prominence in the 1960s when he served as Secretary of the Scottish National Party and was a leading figure in Radio Free Scotland. In 1973, as the Scottish National Party candidate in the Dundee East by-election, Wilson polled over 13,000 votes and was only narrowly defeated in a seat which had been considered safe territory for the Labour Party. The following year Wilson won the seat at the February General Election. He would hold Dundee East until 1987, when he was defeated by Labours John McAllion. Between 1979 and 1987 Wilson was one of only two SNP MPs. From 1979 until 1990 he was Chairman of the SNP. He served as Rector of the University of Dundee 1983-1986.