William Power (Scottish politician)

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William Power
Leader of the Scottish National Party
In office
1940 – 30 May 1942
Preceded byAndrew Dewar Gibb
Succeeded byDouglas Young
Personal details
Born(1873-08-30)30 August 1873
Glasgow, Scotland
Died13 June 1951(1951-06-13) (aged 77)
Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Political partyScottish National Party
Spouse(s)Giulia Dick (m 1871–1922); Williamina Mills (m. 1924–1946)
ProfessionBank clerk; Journalist

William Power (30 August 1873 – 13 June 1951) was a Scottish author, journalist, and politician. He was the leader of the Scottish National Party from 1940 to 1942, and served as President of the Scottish Convention between 1942 and 1951.

Early life[edit]

William Power was born in Woodlands, Glasgow, the eldest of the five children of William Power snr, a commission agent and ship master. He attended Woodside School in Glasgow, but had to leave at the age of fourteen as a result of his father's death at Gibraltar from fever, and found work as a bank clerk at the Royal Bank of Scotland.[1][2] He continued to read and educate himself, and frequently contributed essays and articles to newspapers.

Writer and editor[edit]

In 1907, after working as a bank clerk for twenty years, Power joined The Glasgow Herald as a full-time member of its editorial staff and remained there as essay and leader writer for nearly twenty years.[1][2] A considerable essayist and critic, Power was a supporter of the Scottish Renaissance literary movement in the 1920s. In 1926 he left the Glasgow Herald to become editor of the Scots Observer, a new weekly newspaper which was supported by the Scottish churches.[3] However, the paper was not a commercial success, and he resigned as editor in 1929 to work for Associated Newspapers.[1] Power was a founding member of the Scottish centre of PEN International. He was vice-president in 1930.[4] He served as president of Scottish PEN from 1935 to 1938.[5] He was also president of the Glasgow Esperanto Society, and the Scottish Ramblers' Federation.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

On 12 March 1940, at the age of 66, Power was announced the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate in the by-election.[6] Power had come from nowhere to poll 37% (7,308 votes), coming second behind the Conservative Party, registering the SNP's largest percentage of a by-election vote to date.[7] Power succeeded Andrew Dewar Gibb as the leader of the SNP. At the SNP Annual Conference in May 1942, Power was re-nominated by John MacCormick for the post of leader of the SNP, but he was narrowly defeated (33 votes to 29) by Douglas Young. This led MacCormick to convene a meeting of his supporters, which established Scottish Convention.[8][9]

Power died in Clackmannan County Hospital, Alloa, in June 1951, aged 77. He was married in 1906 to Giulia Dick (1871–1922), and in 1924 to his second wife, Williamina Mills (1877–1946). There were no children of either marriage.[1][2]


  • The World Unvisited, 1922
  • Robert Burns and other Essays and Sketches, 1926
  • My Scotland, 1934
  • Scotland and the Scots, 1934
  • Literature and Oatmeal, 1935
  • Should Auld Acquaintance … : an Autobiography, 1937 [10]
  • The Culture of the Scots: its Past and Future, 1943


  1. ^ a b c d e [1] Margery Palmer McCulloch, ‘Power, William (1873–1951)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
  2. ^ a b c d "Obituary. Mr William Power. Scots Journalist". The Glasgow Herald. 14 June 1951. p. 3. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  3. ^ ""The Scots Observer"". The Glasgow Herald. 1 October 1926. p. 8. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Scottish PEN club. Formation of Gaelic section". The Glasgow Herald. 13 October 1930. p. 8. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Scots Writer Honoured. Foster Freedom in Literature. Mr William Power's Reminiscences". The Glasgow Herald. 5 December 1938. p. 13. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Scottish Nationalist to contest Argyll. Mr William Power Adopted as Candidate". The Glasgow Herald. 13 March 1940. p. 9. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Government win in Argyll. Major McCallum returned. Majority of 5009 in reduced poll. Scottish Nationalist's 7308 Votes". The Glasgow Herald. 13 April 1940. p. 7. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  8. ^ Jack Brown, The National Movement in Scotland, pp.240–242
  9. ^ Keith Webb, The growth of nationalism in Scotland, p.147
  10. ^ "Book of the day. The Spirit of Glasgow. Mr William Power's Reminiscences". The Herald. 15 October 1937. p. 8. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Dewar Gibb
Chairman (Leader) of the Scottish National Party
Succeeded by
Douglas Young