Arthur Donaldson had been leader of the SNP since 1960, during which time the party had increased its membership, and won a seat in Parliament. However, Douglas Drysdale, the party's Vice Chairman (Finance) had become increasingly critical of Donaldson's leadership and stood against him at the party conference. Drysdale was regarded as talented, but was little-known among the party's grassroots.
The 1967 conference was much large than previous events, and many attendees were new to politics and to the SNP. However, they were familiar with Donaldson, who also wrote regularly for the Scots Independent newspaper, and chaired the conference.