Scottish National Party
|Scottish National Party|
|Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba|
|Depute Leader||Nicola Sturgeon|
|Westminster Group Leader||Angus Robertson|
|Merger of||National Party of Scotland
|Headquarters||Gordon Lamb House
3 Jackson's Entry
|Student wing||Federation of Student Nationalists|
|Youth wing||Young Scots for Independence|
|European affiliation||European Free Alliance|
|European Parliament group||Greens/EFA|
|Colours||Yellow and Black|
|Scottish seats in the House of Commons|
|Scottish seats in the European Parliament|
|Local government in Scotland|
|Politics of Scotland
The Scottish National Party (SNP; Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba, Scots: Scots Naitional Pairtie) is a Scottish nationalist and social-democratic political party in Scotland. The SNP supports and campaigns for Scottish independence.
The SNP is the largest political party in Scotland in terms of membership, MSPs and local councillors, with over 35,000 members, 65 MSPs and 424 councillors. The SNP membership has increased while other parties in Scotland are losing members, between 2003-2011 SNP membership increasing by around 110%. Over just two days, from 19 September 2014 (the day after the Scottish independence referendum), to 21 September 2014, membership increased by over 40%, with over 10,000 new members joining.
With the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the SNP became the second largest party, serving two terms as the Opposition. In 2007, the SNP won the most seats in the Scottish Parliament, forming a minority government with party leader Alex Salmond elected First Minister of Scotland. In 2011, the SNP formed a majority government in the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP currently holds 6 of 59 Scottish seats in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and 2 of 6 Scottish seats in the European Parliament. The SNP is also currently the largest group in Scottish local government.
- 1 History
- 2 Party organisation
- 3 Policy platform
- 4 Party ideology
- 5 European affiliation
- 6 Leadership
- 7 Ministers and spokespeople
- 8 Elected representatives (current)
- 9 Electoral performance
- 10 Criticism
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The SNP was formed in 1934 through the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party. Professor Douglas Young, who was the leader of the Scottish National Party from 1942 to 1945 campaigned for the Scottish people to refuse conscription and his activities were popularly vilified as undermining the British war effort against the Axis powers. Young was imprisoned for refusing to be conscripted.
The SNP first won a parliamentary seat at the Motherwell by-election in 1945, but Dr Robert McIntyre MP lost the seat at the general election three months later. They next won a seat in 1967, when Winnie Ewing was the surprise winner of a by-election in the previously safe Labour seat of Hamilton. This brought the SNP to national prominence, leading to the establishment of the Kilbrandon Commission.
The high point in a UK general election was when the SNP polled almost a third of all votes in Scotland at the October 1974 general election and returned 11 MPs to Westminster, to date the most MPs it has had. However, the party experienced a large drop in its support at the 1979 General election, followed by a further drop at the 1983 election.
In the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary general election the SNP emerged as the largest party with 47 seats, narrowly ousting the Scottish Labour Party with 46 seats and Alex Salmond became Scottish First Minister. The Scottish Green Party supported Salmond's election as First Minister, and his subsequent appointments of ministers, in return for early tabling of the climate change bill and the SNP nominating a Green MSP to chair a parliamentary committee.
In May 2011, the SNP won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament with 69 seats. Overall majorities are unusual in the Additional Member system that is used for elections to the Scottish Parliament, which was specially designed by the Labour UK government in 1999 to prevent any party gaining overall control of the parliament.
In November 2013, some policies the SNP would pursue in an independent Scotland were detailed in Scotland's Future, the Scottish Government's 670-page white paper on the case for Scottish independence and the means through which Scotland would become an independent country.
The SNP consists of local branches of party members. Those branches then form an association in the constituency they represent (unless there is only one branch in the constituency, in which case it forms a constituency branch rather than a constituency association). There are also eight regional associations, to which the branches and constituency associations can send delegates.
The SNP's policy structure is developed at its annual national conference and its regular national council meetings. There are also regular meetings of its national assembly, at which detailed discussion (but not finalising) of party policy takes place.
The party has an active youth wing, the Young Scots for Independence, as well as a student wing, the Federation of Student Nationalists. There is also an SNP Trade Union Group. There is an independently-owned monthly newspaper, The Scots Independent, which is highly supportive of the party.
The SNP's leadership is vested in its National Executive Committee (NEC) which is made up of the party's elected office bearers and six elected members (voted for at conference). The SNP parliamentarians (Scottish, Westminster and European) and councillors have representation on the NEC, as do the Trade Union Group, the youth wing and the student wing.
According to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission for the year ending 2010, the party had a membership of 16,232, up from 15,097 in 2008 and 9,450 in 2003. In 2004 the party had income of approximately £1,300,000 (including bequests of just under £300,000) and expenditure of about £1,000,000.
The SNP's policy base is mostly in the mainstream European social-democratic mould. For example, among its policies are a commitment to unilateral nuclear disarmament, progressive personal taxation, the eradication of poverty, free state education including support grants for higher education students and a pay increase for nurses. It is also committed to an independent Scotland being a full member state of the European Union, while retaining the pound sterling as a part of a currency union with the UK. The party historically opposed EU membership, viewing it as incompatible with Scottish independence, and former leader Gordon Wilson, former deputy leader Jim Sillars and other members continue to oppose; although it is noteworthy that Jim Sillars was the architect for the original pro-European change of stance in 1990, and has a book published to that effect.   The SNP was historically opposed also to membership of NATO, a reflection of its opposition to nuclear weapons; at its 2012 national conference a vote saw party policy change to support of NATO, on the precondition of the removal of all British nuclear weapons from Scottish bases should independence occur.
Contrary to the assumptions of many outside the party, the SNP is not republican, and its general view is that this is an issue secondary to that of Scottish independence. The current stance of the SNP is that an independent Scotland would retain the monarchy which it currently has as part of the United Kingdom.
Following the party's victory in the 2011 Holyrood election, there will be a referendum on Scottish independence, scheduled to take place on the 18 September 2014, with the transition to independence in the event of a Yes vote planned for March 2016.
By the 1960s, the party was starting to become defined ideologically. It had by then established a National Assembly which allowed for discussion of policy and was producing papers on a host of policy issues that could be described as based on social democracy. Also, the emergence of William Wolfe (universally known as Billy) as a leading figure played a huge role in the SNP defining itself as a left-of-centre and social-democratic party. He recognised the need to do this to challenge the dominant political position of the Scottish Labour Party.
He achieved this in a number of ways: establishing the SNP Trade Union Group; promoting centre-left policies; and identifying the SNP with labour campaigns, such as the Upper-Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in and the attempt of the workers at the Scottish Daily Express to run as a cooperative. (The leader of the Upper-Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in, the late Jimmy Reid, would later join the SNP.) It was during Wolfe's period as SNP leader in the 1970s that the SNP became clearly identified as a social-democratic political party.
There were some ideological tensions in the 1970s SNP. The party leadership under Wolfe was determined to stay on the left of the Scottish political spectrum and be in a position to challenge the Labour Party. However, the party's MPs, mostly representing seats won from the Scottish Conservatives, were less keen to have the SNP viewed as a centre-left alternative to Labour, for fear of losing their seats back to the Conservatives.
For the party manifestos for the two 1974 general elections, the SNP finally self-identified itself as a social-democratic party, and there was an abandoned proposal at the 1975 party conference of renaming the party to the Scottish National Party (Social Democrats).
There were further ideological and internal struggles after 1979 with the 79 Group attempting to move the SNP further to the left, away from being what could be described a "social-democratic" party, to an expressly "socialist" party. Members of the 79 Group including current leader Alex Salmond were expelled from the party. This produced a response in the shape of the Campaign for Nationalism in Scotland from those who wanted the SNP to remain a "broad church", apart from arguments of left vs. right.
The 1980s saw the SNP further define itself as a party of the political left, for example running campaigns against the poll tax. It developed this platform to the stage it is at now: a clear, moderate, centre-left political party. This has itself not gone without internal criticism from the left of the party who believe that in modern years the party has become too moderate.
The ideological tensions inside the SNP are further complicated by the arguments between the so-called SNP gradualists and SNP fundamentalists. In essence, gradualists seek to advance Scotland to independence through further devolution, in a "step-by-step" strategy. They tend to be in the moderate left grouping, although much of the 79 Group was gradualist in approach. However, this 79 Group gradualism was as much a reaction against the fundamentalists of the day, many of whom believed the SNP should not take a clear left or right position.
This grouping of "neo-fundamentalists" have their roots within the camp of the former high-profile Labour Party MP Jim Sillars who left Labour to form the short-lived Scottish Labour Party in 1976 (the party had no connection with the UK Labour Party or the current Scottish Labour group in the Scottish Parliament). Sillars eventually joined the SNP, winning the Govan, Glasgow, by-election in 1988 to become an SNP MP. He lost the Westminster seat at the 1992 general election and expressed his disappointment by calling the Scottish people "ninety minute patriots". Jim Sillars has since become a vocal critic of Alex Salmond.
Many political analysts take the view that the commitment of ordinary members and leaders to independence is so strong that many of the tensions that arise over internal disagreements over policy are often set aside. However increased media attention on the SNP in the run-up to the referendum has made some of these tensions more visible to the general public. These internal tensions within the SNP have become very acute in Argyll and Bute, where one SNP councillor, Fred Hall, quit the SNP in April 2013, while 4 more SNP councilors, Roddy McCuish (who was leader of the SNP Group in Argyll and Bute Council at the time), Mary Jean Devon (previously a defector from the Liberal Democrats), Robert MacIntyre, and Michael Breslin quit the SNP in October 2013, which led to the collapse of the former SNP-Independent coalition in Argyll and Bute Council.
The SNP retains close links with Plaid Cymru, its counterpart in Wales. MPs of both parties co-operate closely with each other. They work as a single group within the House of Commons, and were involved in joint campaigning during the 2005 General Election campaign. Both the SNP and Plaid Cymru are members of the European Free Alliance (EFA), a European political party for regionalist national-level political parties. The EFA co-operates with the larger European Green Party to form The Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) group in the European Parliament.
Prior to its affiliation with The Greens–European Free Alliance, the SNP had previously been allied with the European Progressive Democrats (until 1984), Rainbow Group (1989–1994) and European Radical Alliance (1994–1999).
Leaders of the Scottish National Party
- Sir Alexander MacEwen, 1934–1936
- Andrew Dewar Gibb, 1936–1940
- William Power, 1940–1942
- Douglas Young, 1942–1945
- Bruce Watson, 1945–1947
- Robert McIntyre, 1947–1956
- James Halliday, 1956–1960
- Arthur Donaldson, 1960–1969
- William Wolfe, 1969–1979
- Gordon Wilson, 1979–1990
- Alex Salmond, 1990–2000
- John Swinney, 2000–2004
- Alex Salmond, 2004–2014 (Has announced intention not to seek re-election at SNP convention in November)
Deputy Leaders of the Scottish National Party
- Malcolm Shaw and George Leask, as of 1956
- Sandy Milne, 1960–1966
- William Wolfe, 1966–1969
- George Leslie, 1969–1971
- Douglas Henderson, 1971–1973
- Gordon Wilson, 1973–1974
- Margo MacDonald, 1974–1979
- Douglas Henderson, 1979–1981
- Jim Fairlie, 1981–1984
- Margaret Ewing, 1984–1987
- Alex Salmond, 1987–1990
- Alasdair Morgan, 1990–1991
- Jim Sillars, 1991–1992
- Allan Macartney, 1992–1998
- John Swinney, 1998–2000
- Roseanna Cunningham, 2000–2004
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2004–present
Presidents of the Scottish National Party
- Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, 1934–1936
- Roland Muirhead, 1936–1950
- Tom Gibson, 1950–1958
- Robert McIntyre, 1958–1980
- William Wolfe, 1980–1982
- Donald Stewart, 1982–1987
- Winnie Ewing, 1987–2005
- Ian Hudghton, 2005–present
Leaders of the parliamentary party, Scottish Parliament
- Alex Salmond, 1999–2000
- John Swinney, 2000–2004
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2004–2007
- Alex Salmond, 2007–present
Leaders of the parliamentary party, House of Commons
- Donald Stewart, 1974–1987
- Margaret Ewing, 1987–1999
- Alasdair Morgan, 1999–2001
- Alex Salmond, 2001–2007
- Angus Robertson, 2007–present
Ministers and spokespeople
- See also: Government of the 4th Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government, Members of the 4th Scottish Parliament
|Westminster Group Leader
Defence and Foreign Affairs
|Angus Robertson MP|
|Deputy Group Leader and Chief Whip
HM Treasury and Economic Affairs
|Stewart Hosie MP|
|Culture and Sport; Constitution||Peter Wishart MP|
|Business; Energy and Climate Change||Michael Weir MP|
|Transport; Constitutional Reform||Angus MacNeil MP|
|Fisheries; International Development; Women; Work and Pensions||Eilidh Whiteford MP|
|President of the Scottish National Party
Fisheries; Regional Development
|Ian Hudghton MEP|
|Agriculture and Rural Development||Alyn Smith MEP|
Elected representatives (current)
Members of the Scottish Parliament
Members of Parliament
Members of the European Parliament
The SNP had 425 councillors in Local Government elected from the Scottish local elections, 2012. However, since the election in 2012, 5 SNP councilors in Argyll and Bute have since left the party: Roddy McCuish, Mary Jean Devon, Robert MacIntyre,Michael Breslin, and Fred Hall, who all now sit as independents.
|Holyrood elections||Percentage of Scottish vote||Seats won||Additional Information|
|1999 Scottish Parliament Election||28.7%||35 seats (including 7 First Past the Post seats)||First election to the re-constituted Scottish Parliament. Finished second to Labour and became the official opposition to the coalition of Labour and Liberal Democrats.|
|2003 Scottish Parliament Election||23.8%||27 seats (including 9 First Past the Post seats)|
|2007 Scottish Parliament Election||32.9%||47 seats (including 21 First Past the Post seats)||Largest party in the Scottish Parliament; formed the Scottish Government.|
|2011 Scottish Parliament Election||45.4%||69 seats (including 53 First Past the Post seats)||Formed the first majority Scottish Government.|
|Local elections||Percentage of Scottish vote||Seats won||Additional Information|
|1974 Regional Council Election||12.6%||18 seats|
|1974 District Council Election||12.4%||62 seats|
|1977 District Council Election||24.2%||170 seats|
|1978 Regional Council Election||20.9%||18 seats|
|1980 District Council Election||15.5%||54 seats|
|1982 Regional Council Election||13.4%||23 seats|
|1984 District Council Election||11.7%||59 seats|
|1986 Regional Council Election||18.2 %||36 seats|
|1988 District Council Election||21.3%||113 seats|
|1990 Regional Council Election||21.8%||42 seats|
|1992 District Council Election||24.3%||150 seats|
|1994 Regional Council Election||26.8%||73 seats|
|1995 Council areas election||26.1%||181 seats|
|1999 Council areas election||28.9%||201 seats|
|2003 Council areas election||24.1%||181 seats|
|2007 Council areas election||29.7% (first preference)||363 seats||Largest party in local government (first ever Scottish local elections to be held under the Single Transferable Vote).|
|2012 Council areas election||32.33% (first preference)||425 seats||Received largest number of first preference votes.|
|Westminster Elections||Percentage of Scottish vote||Seats won||Additional Information|
|1935 General Election||1.1%||0 seats|
|1945 General Election||1.2%||0 seats|
|1950 General Election||0.4%||0 seats|
|1951 General Election||0.3%||0 seats|
|1955 General Election||0.5%||0 seats|
|1959 General Election||0.5%||0 seats|
|1964 General Election||2.4%||0 seats|
|1966 General Election||5.0%||0 seats|
|1970 General Election||11.4%||1 seat|
|1974 General Election (Feb)||21.9%||7 seats|
|1974 General Election (Oct)||30.4%||11 seats||High-water mark, until 2007. Increased presence contributed to Labour holding a devolution referendum in 1979.|
|1979 General Election||17.3%||2 seats||Poor performance compared to the two 1974 elections caused internal ructions during the 1980s.|
|1983 General Election||11.7%||2 seats|
|1987 General Election||14.0%||3 seats|
|1992 General Election||21.5%||3 seats|
|1997 General Election||22.1%||6 seats|
|2001 General Election||20.1%||5 seats|
|2005 General Election||17.7%||6 seats|
|2010 General Election||19.9%||6 seats|
|European elections||Percentage of Scottish vote||Seats won||Additional Information|
|1979 European Parliament Election||19.4%||1 seat|
|1984 European Parliament Election||17.8%||1 seat|
|1989 European Parliament Election||25.6%||1 seat|
|1994 European Parliament Election||32.6%||2 seats|
|1999 European Parliament Election||27.2%||2 seats|
|2004 European Parliament Election||19.7%||2 seats|
|2009 European Parliament Election||29.1%||2 seats||The first European Parliament elections in which the SNP won the most votes within Scotland|
|2014 European Parliament Election||29.0%||2 seats||SNP once again won the most votes within Scotland|
Accusations of Anglophobia
Some critics of the SNP accuse the party of being Anglophobic. As James Maxwell points out, such allegations have a long history in British politics, becoming particularly pronounced since the rise of the SNP in Labour's West of Scotland heartlands in the 1960s and 70s.
During his time as a Liberal Democrat MSP, Jamie Stone was forced to apologise after calling the SNP "xenophobic". In 2000, the Labour Party claimed that two SNP MSPs were anti-English after they "registered their support for Germany's 2006 FIFA World Cup bid on its official website" which was then a rival to England's 2006 World Cup bid. The SNP responded that they "have no position on where the World Cup is held" and that it was "silly to describe the website entry as anti-English". More recently, former Conservative Prime Minister John Major and former Conservative Cabinet minister John Redwood have branded the SNP "anti-English".
The SNP have denied any suggestions of Anglophobia within the party. Former SNP MSP Ian McKee argued in a speech to the Scottish Parliament that, as an Englishman, he was evidence of there being no such anti-English feeling. Indeed, McKee was then one of seven SNP MSPs born in England. Other prominent English-born figures in the party include prospective MEP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, Christine Grahame MSP, Stuart McMillan MSP, Nigel Don MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for the Commonwealth Games, Sport, Equalities and Pensioners' Rights Shona Robison and the party's Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP.
In 2007/08, 6.7% of SNP members were found to have been born in England, "not far below the 8.1% recorded in the 2001 census for the population as a whole". Nearly half - 47.2% - of the party reported having lived in England.
The SNP's founder, R.B. Cunninghame Graham is famously quoted as saying: "The enemies of Scottish Nationalism are not the English, for they were ever a great and generous folk, quick to respond when justice calls. Our real enemies are among us, born without imagination." Graham was, along with close friend Keir Hardie, one of the founders—indeed, the first president—of the Scottish Labour Party in 1888. The party's current leader, Alex Salmond, told the Guardian newspaper in 2011 that he believed England to be "a great country" of which he was personally very fond.
Accusations of "cash for policies"
The party has been criticised over a £500,000 donation from the socially conservative transport businessman Brian Souter. One month later, in April 2007, the SNP's commitment (made at the party's 2006 conference) to re-regulate the bus network was not included in their 2007 manifesto, although the SNP denies any direct link. Opposition politicians suggested that the donation and policy shift were linked and that it was a case of "cash for policies", although no official accusations have been made. In spite of Souter's strong opposition, the SNP government moved to legalise same-sex marriage in Scotland. In February 2014, with the overwhelming backing of SNP MSPs, as well as cross-party support, the Scottish Parliament voted to approve the SNP government's plans.
Souter went on to make a further donation of £125,000 to the SNP, making him their single biggest donor at that time. Souter made approaches to the SNP government for a £3 million subsidy for his company, Stagecoach, to develop a hovercraft service between Kirkcaldy and Portobello in Scotland. The service had already received subsidy from the previous Labour administration for the pilot scheme, but was put on hold pending "clarification" of the public sector's involvement.
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- Topics related to Politics of Scotland
- History of the Scottish National Party
- History of Scottish devolution
- It's Scotland's oil
- Radio Free Scotland
- Robert Cunninghame-Graham
- Scottish Independence
- ^[b] Other pro-independence parties which contested the most recent UK general election (2010), include Scottish Green Party, Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity - Scotland's Socialist Movement, Scottish Jacobite Party
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- The Flag in the Wind, by John MacCormick, 1955
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- Scottish National Party - Official website
- SNP Conference Autumn 2009 - BBC Coverage
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- SNP Manifesto - 2005 Westminster General Election[dead link] 'Make Scotland Matter'
- Scots Independent newspaper website 'Flag in the Wind'
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- Scottish Politics - Information about election results in Scotland.
- European Free Alliance website
- The Greens/European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament - website
- Scots vote reinforces antinuclear position