Scottish National Party
|Scottish National Party|
|Depute leader||Stewart Hosie|
|Westminster Group Leader||Angus Robertson|
|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|
|House of Commons (Scottish seats)||
56 / 59
|European Parliament (Scottish seats)||
2 / 6
64 / 129
|Local government in Scotland||
405 / 1,223
|Politics of Scotland
Politics of United Kingdom
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. It is the third-largest political party by membership in the United Kingdom, as well as by overall representation in the House of Commons, behind the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, and is the largest party in Scotland, where it dominates both the Scottish Parliament and the country's parliamentary delegation to Westminster, the UK's supreme legislative body. Its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, is the current First Minister of Scotland.
Founded in 1934 with the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party, the party has had continuous parliamentary representation since Winnie Ewing won the 1967 Hamilton by-election. With the advent of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the SNP became the second largest party, serving two terms as the opposition. The SNP came to power in the 2007 Scottish general election, forming a minority government, before going on to win the 2011 election, after which it formed Scotland's first majority government.
As of 2015, the SNP is the largest political party in Scotland in terms of membership. With over 110,000 members, including 64 MSPs, 56 MPs and over 400 local councillors, more than 2% of the Scottish gross population is a member of the party. The SNP also currently has 2 MEPs in the European Parliament, who sit in The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) group. The SNP is a member of the European Free Alliance (EFA).
- 1 History
- 2 Constitution and structure
- 3 Party ideology
- 4 Leadership
- 4.1 Leaders of the Scottish National Party
- 4.2 Depute Leaders of the Scottish National Party
- 4.3 Presidents of the Scottish National Party
- 4.4 National Secretaries of the Scottish National Party
- 4.5 Leaders of the parliamentary party, Scottish Parliament
- 4.6 Leaders of the parliamentary party, House of Commons
- 5 Ministers and spokespeople
- 6 Elected representatives (current)
- 7 Electoral performance
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
The SNP was formed in 1934 through the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party, with Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham as its first president. 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 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 SNP hit a high point in the October 1974 general election, polling almost a third of all votes in Scotland and returning 11 MPs to Westminster. This success was not surpassed until the 2015 general election. 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.
Based on their 2011 majority, the SNP government held a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. The "No" vote prevailed in a close-fought campaign, prompting the resignation of First Minister Alex Salmond. Forty-five percent of Scottish voters cast their ballots for independence, with the "Yes" side receiving less support than late polling predicted.
The SNP rebounded from the loss in the independence referendum at the UK general election in May 2015, led by Salmond's successor as first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The party went from holding six seats in the House of Commons to 56, mostly at the expense of the Labour Party. All but three of the fifty nine constituencies in the country elected an SNP candidate. BBC News described the historic result as a "Scots landslide".
Constitution and structure
The primary level of organisation in the SNP are the local Branches. All of the Branches within each Scottish Parliament constituency form a Constituency Association, which coordinates the work of the Branches within the constituency, coordinates the activities of the party in the constituency, and acts as a point of liaison between an MSP or MP and the party. Constituency Associations are composed of delegates from all of the Branches within the constituency.
The annual National Conference is the supreme governing body of the SNP, and is responsible for determining party policy and electing the National Executive Committee. The National Conference is composed of:
- delegates from every Branch and Constituency Association
- the members of the National Executive Committee
- 15 members elected by the National Conference
- every SNP MSP, MP and MEP
- a number of SNP local councillors, and
- delegates from one of the SNP’s Affiliated Organisations (Young Scots for Independence, Federation of Student Nationalists, SNP Trade Union Group and the Association of Nationalist Councillors)
The National Council serves as the SNP’s governing body between National Conferences, and its decisions are binding, unless rescinded or modified by the National Conference. There are also regular meetings of the National Assembly, which provides a forum for detailed discussion of party policy by party members.
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.
National Office Bearers
- President: Ian Hudghton MEP
- Leader: Nicola Sturgeon MSP
- Depute Leader: Stewart Hosie MP
- National Treasurer: Colin Beattie MSP
- National Secretary: Patrick Grady MP
- Business Convener: Derek Mackay MSP
- Organisation Convener: Douglas Chapman MP
- Local Government Convener: Councillor Susan Aitken
- Political Education Convener: Anne McLaughlin MP
Since 18 September 2014 (the day of the Scottish independence referendum) party membership has more than quadrupled (from 25,642), surpassing the Liberal Democrats to become the third largest political party in the United Kingdom in terms of membership. As of March 2015, the Party had well exceeded the 100,000 membership mark.
The SNP retains close links with Plaid Cymru, its counterpart in Wales. MPs from both parties co-operate closely with each other and work as a single parliamentary group within the House of Commons. The SNP and Plaid Cymru were involved in joint campaigning during the 2005 General Election campaign. Both the SNP and Plaid Cymru, along with Mebyon Kernow from Cornwall, are members of the European Free Alliance (EFA), a European political party comprising regionalist 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 (1979–1984), Rainbow Group (1989–1994) and European Radical Alliance (1994–1999).
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The SNP's policy base is mostly in the mainstream European social democratic tradition. Among its policies are commitments to same-sex marriage, reducing the voting age to 16, unilateral nuclear disarmament, progressive personal taxation, the eradication of poverty, the building of affordable social housing, government subsidized higher education, opposition to the building of new nuclear power plants, investment in renewable energy, the abolition of Air Passenger Duty, and a pay increase for nurses.
The Scottish National Party did not have a clear ideological position until the 1970s, when it sought to explicitly present itself as a social democratic party in terms of party policy and publicity. During the period from its foundation until the 1960s, the SNP was essentially a moderate centrist party. Debate within the party focused more on the SNP being distinct as an all-Scotland national movement, with it being neither of the left or the right, but constituting a new politics that sought to put Scotland first.
The SNP was formed through the merger of the centre-left National Party of Scotland (NPS) and the centre-right Scottish Party. The SNP’s founders were united over self-determination in principle, though not its exact nature, or the best strategic means to achieve self-government. From the mid-1940s onwards, SNP policy was radical and redistributionist in relation to land and in favour of ‘the diffusion of economic power’, including the decentralization of industries such as coal to include the involvement of local authorities and regional planning bodies to control industrial structure and development. Party policies supported the economic and social policy status quo of the post-war welfare state.
By the 1960s, the SNP was starting to become defined ideologically, with a social democratic tradition emerging as the party grew in urban, industrial Scotland, and its membership experienced an influx of social democrats from the Labour Party, the trade unions and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The emergence of Billy Wolfe as a leading figure in the SNP also contributed to this movement to the left. By this period, the Labour Party were also the dominant party in Scotland, in terms of electoral support and representation. Targeting Labour through emphasising left-of-centre policies and values was therefore electorally logical for the SNP, as well as tying in with the ideological preferences of many new party members. In 1961 the SNP conference expressed the party’s opposition to the siting of the US Polaris submarine base at the Holy Loch. This policy was followed in 1963 by a motion opposed to nuclear weapons: a policy that has remained in place ever since. The 1964 policy document, SNP & You, contained a clear centre-left policy platform, including commitments to full employment, government intervention in fuel, power and transport, a state bank to guide economic development, encouragement of cooperatives and credit unions, extensive building of council houses by central and local government, pensions adjusted to cost of living, a minimum wage and an improved national health service.
The ’60s also saw the beginnings of the SNP’s efforts to establish an industrial organisation and mobilise amongst trade unionists in Scotland, with the establishment of the SNP Trade Union Group, and identifying the SNP with industrial 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. For the party manifestos for the two 1974 general elections, the SNP finally self-identified as a social democratic party, and proposed a range of social democratic policies. There was also an unsuccessful proposal at the 1975 party conference to rename the party as 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 future party leader and First Minister 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, such as campaigning against the poll tax.
Ideological tensions inside the SNP are further complicated by 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, though 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. In its economic and welfare state policies, the party has in recent years adopted a markedly feminist profile, influenced by thinkers such as Ailsa McKay.
The SNP is also a Pro-European party, in which it would like to see an Independent Scotland as a member of the European Union. The SNP also opposes a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.
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
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2014–present
Depute Leaders of the Scottish National Party
- Sandy Milne, 1964–1966
- 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, 2004–2014
- Stewart Hosie, 2014–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
National Secretaries of the Scottish National Party
- John MacCormick, 1934–1942
- Robert McIntyre, 1942–1947
- Mary Fraser Dott, 1947–1951
- Robert Curran, 1951–1954
- John Smart, 1954–1963
- Malcolm Shaw, 1963–1964
- Gordon Wilson, 1964–1971
- Muriel Gibson, 1971–1972
- Rosemary Hall, 1972–1975
- Muriel Gibson, 1975–1977
- Chrissie MacWhirter, 1977–1979
- Iain Murray, 1979–1981
- Neil MacCallum, 1981–1986
- John Swinney, 1986–1992
- Alasdair Morgan, 1992–1997
- Stewart Hosie, 1999–2003
- Alasdair Allan, 2003–2006
- Duncan Ross, 2006–2012
- Patrick Grady, 2012–present
Leaders of the parliamentary party, Scottish Parliament
- Alex Salmond, 1999–2000
- John Swinney, 2000–2004
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2004–2007
- Alex Salmond, 2007–2014
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2014–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
United Kingdom Parliament
|SNP Group Leader in the House of Commons
|Angus Robertson MP|
|Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party
Deputy Group Leader
|Stewart Hosie MP|
Social Justice and Welfare
|Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP|
|Justice and Home Affairs||Joanna Cherry QC MP|
|International Affairs and Europe||Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP MP|
|Defence||Brendan O'Hara MP|
|Trade and Investment
Deputy Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
|Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh OBE MP|
|Fair Work and Employment||Hannah Bardell MP|
|Transport||Drew Hendry MP|
|Environment and Rural Affairs||Calum Kerr MP|
|Energy and Climate Change||Callum McCaig MP|
|Public Services and Education||Carol Monaghan MP|
|Business, Innovation and Skills||Michelle Thomson MP|
|Health||Philippa Whitford MP|
|Member of the Group Executive
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
|Pete Wishart MP|
|Chief Whip||Michael Weir MP|
|Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Liaison||Deidre Brock 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
|Holyrood elections||Percentage of Scottish vote||Seats won||Additional Information|
|1999 Scottish Parliament Election||28.7%||
35 / 129(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 / 129(including 9 First Past the Post seats)
|2007 Scottish Parliament Election||32.9%||
47 / 129(including 21 First Past the Post seats)
|Largest party in the Scottish Parliament; formed the Scottish Government.|
|2011 Scottish Parliament Election||45.4%||
69 / 129(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 / 524
|1974 District Council Election||12.4%||
62 / 1,158
|1977 District Council Election||24.2%||
170 / 1,158
|1978 Regional Council Election||20.9%||
18 / 524
|1980 District Council Election||15.5%||
54 / 1,158
|1982 Regional Council Election||13.4%||
23 / 524
|1984 District Council Election||11.7%||
59 / 1,158
|1986 Regional Council Election||18.2%||
36 / 524
|1988 District Council Election||21.3%||
113 / 1,158
|1990 Regional Council Election||21.8%||
42 / 524
|1992 District Council Election||24.3%||
150 / 1,158
|1994 Regional Council Election||26.8%||
73 / 453
|1995 Council areas election||26.1%||
181 / 1,222
|1999 Council areas election||28.9%||
201 / 1,222
|2003 Council areas election||24.1%||
171 / 1,222
|2007 Council areas election||29.7% (first preference)||
363 / 1,222
|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 / 1,223
|Largest party in local government; received largest number of first preference votes.|
|Westminster Elections||Percentage of Scottish vote||Seats won||Additional Information|
|1935 General Election||1.1%||
0 / 71
|1945 General Election||1.2%||
0 / 71
|1950 General Election||0.4%||
0 / 71
|1951 General Election||0.3%||
0 / 71
|1955 General Election||0.5%||
0 / 71
|1959 General Election||0.5%||
0 / 71
|1964 General Election||2.4%||
0 / 71
|1966 General Election||5.0%||
0 / 71
|1970 General Election||11.4%||
1 / 71
|1974 General Election (Feb)||21.9%||
7 / 71
|1974 General Election (Oct)||30.4%||
11 / 71
|High-water mark, until 2015. Increased presence contributed to Labour holding a devolution referendum in 1979.|
|1979 General Election||17.3%||
2 / 71
|Poor performance compared to the two 1974 elections caused internal ructions during the 1980s.|
|1983 General Election||11.7%||
2 / 72
|1987 General Election||14.0%||
3 / 72
|1992 General Election||21.5%||
3 / 72
|1997 General Election||22.1%||
6 / 72
|2001 General Election||20.1%||
5 / 72
|2005 General Election||17.7%||
6 / 59
|2010 General Election||19.9%||
6 / 59
|2015 General Election||50.0%||
56 / 59
|Overall high-water mark and the first time the SNP gained an absolute majority of seats in Scotland.|
|European elections||Percentage of Scottish vote||Seats won||Additional Information|
|1979 European Parliament Election||19.4%||
1 / 8
|1984 European Parliament Election||17.8%||
1 / 8
|1989 European Parliament Election||25.6%||
1 / 8
|1994 European Parliament Election||32.6%||
2 / 8
|1999 European Parliament Election||27.2%||
2 / 8
|2004 European Parliament Election||19.7%||
2 / 7
|2009 European Parliament Election||29.1%||
2 / 6
|The first European Parliament elections in which the SNP won the most votes within Scotland.|
|2014 European Parliament Election||29.0%||
2 / 6
|SNP won the most votes within Scotland.|
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- Scots vote reinforces antinuclear position
- Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division Collection of material relating to the Scottish National Party