Harry Rankin

Accountant, SNP treasurer, chairman of Saltire Society

Born: 14 October, 1932, in Hamilton.

Died: 4 January, 2020, in Dunfermline, aged 77.

HENRY Cunison Deans Rankin had many connections with the promotion of Scottish life and culture but it was his simple pride in being a Scot that many especially remember. In his professional life he was a respected chartered accountant and an authority on taxation, lecturing and writing authoritative papers on the subject.

In the political sphere he was an avowed Nationalist, serving as SNP national treasurer from 1965-66 and as a member of the National Executive Committee from 1966-68.

His love of Scottish music, theatre and literature led to his involvement with many artistic bodies and events, notably the Saltire Society and the Cantilena music festival.

Rankin was known by work and political colleagues as Harry. But within his family and with long-standing friends he was always Cunnie – the name derived from an old family connection.

Alex Salmond, a friend – politically and personally – of many years, told The Scotsman: "Cunnie was a great spirit and a great patriot. Through his practice and teaching of accountancy, his work with the Saltire Society and his determined political interest, he made friends wherever he worked and made a positive impact for his beloved Scotland." Significantly, the First Minister will make the eulogy at Rankin's funeral.

Rankin attended Hamilton Academy, where he showed a sure talent for performing on stage which led to his lifelong love of the theatre. He graduated from Glasgow University with an MA and LLB and was indentured to a firm of Glasgow accountants, gaining further experience in the profession in Paris and Glasgow. He qualified in 1962 and worked in the taxation departments of Arthur Young and Graham Smart and Annan in Edinburgh.

In 1973, after lecturing at evening classes, Rankin was appointed to lecture on taxation at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, and in 1982 he was made responsible for student education at the institute throughout Scotland.

Rankin proved an excellent teacher, combining a sound grasp of his complex subject with a relaxed classroom manner.

In 1983 he set up as an accountant specialising in taxation affairs with an office in Dunfermline. He continued, however, to lecture widely and wrote articles in accountancy publications. His book Corporation Tax for Students soon became the principal text on the subject.

Throughout his life Rankin remained an ardent believer in an independent Scotland. His widow, Enid, told me proudly: "Cunnie was Scottish through and through. Not British." He stood in Lanark as SNP candidate for Westminster in 1966 and 1970 and in North Angus & Mearns in 1974.

Rankin always maintained that the SNP had to offer Scotland radical alternatives. He was adamant that it was not enough simply to seek a transfer of power from Westminster to Edinburgh, but that the party had to show the people of Scotland that under their own management Scotland would improve economically and socially.

Nothing displays the esteem in which Rankin was held within the SNP more than a decision of the First Minister in July last year. Mr Salmond announced he had established a trust to assist community and youth organisations in the North-east of Scotland, to be funded by his MSP's salary. Rankin, along with businessman Roddy McColl and Elizabeth Wallace, director of Family Mediation Grampian, were the three eminent Scots asked to act as trustees.

The Saltire Society was a prime focus in Rankin's life. He had been made its chairman in succession to Ian Scott at a meeting at Helensburgh Golf Club in June 2007 and he was keen to pursue new avenues for the society. For example, he believed the Scottish Parliament rather than Westminster should control broadcasting policy in Scotland. He was to have spoken at a conference which asked, "Should Scottish broadcasting and its future depend on the London-based commissioning powers of the BBC and ITV?" Significantly, Rankin was well aware that simply putting a Scottish label on broadcasting did not make it good broadcasting.

Rankin was keen to encourage the society to seek new opportunities and encouraged it to support and develop the arts throughout Scotland. These areas – including literature, music and architecture –- reflected Rankin's own passions and he was keen to involve the members wherever possible. He proved a scrupulous and balanced chairman and ensure the society's finances were maintained on a sound basis.

"With his financial background," said Paul Scott, a past president of the society, "Cunnie was adamant that the financial implications of any proposal put before the society's board were assessed in detail before any action was taken. He devoted much time and energy to the society and remained a passionate supporter of all its work.

"Cunnie was a man of considerable status throughout Scotland – financially and culturally – and his death is a great loss."

Rankin was a man of many other interests. He much enjoyed attending the theatre in Edinburgh and was a regular at Scottish National Orchestra concerts in the Usher Hall. A special love was the Cantilena Music Festival, held twice a year on the Isle of Islay. Since it began 11 years ago Rankin acted as its treasurer and was an ardent supporter.

In more relaxed moments Rankin enjoyed spending time at the bird sanctuary on Loch Leven.

Rankin, a man of many passions, preserved a welcoming and courteous manner throughout his life. He was a devoted family man and his eldest daughter, Janet, remembers him as "a great dad who was always interested in everyone". She added: "He was open-minded and a good listener, with boundless energy. Dad was also a great cook."

Rankin and Edith were married in 1961 at the British Consulate in Paris. She and their four daughters survive him.