|Scottish National Party
Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba
Scots Naitional Pairty
|Depute Leader||Nicola Sturgeon|
|Westminster Group Leader||Angus Robertson|
|Headquarters||Gordon Lamb House
3 Jackson's Entry
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
|Student wing||Federation of Student Nationalists|
|Youth wing||Young Scots for Independence|
|European affiliation||European Free Alliance|
|European Parliament group||The Greens–European Free Alliance|
|Colours||Yellow and Heather|
|House of Commons|
|Local government in Scotland|
The Scottish National Party (SNP; Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba; Scots: Scots Naitional Pairty) is a social democratic political party which campaigns for Scottish independence. The SNP is the largest political party in Scotland, in terms of membership, number of MSPs and local authority councillors.
With the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the SNP became the second largest party in the legislature, serving two terms as the main party of the Opposition. In the 2007 general election the SNP won the most seats in the Scottish Parliament for the first time, forming a minority government with party leader Alex Salmond elected First Minister of Scotland. In the 2011 general election, the SNP won a landslide victory and became the first party to form a majority government in the Scottish Parliament since its resumption.
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 and, in coalition, forms 12 out of 32 local administrations.
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 glection 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.
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."
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 16232, 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, to the country joining the Euro currency at the appropriate exchange rate both of which are not guaranteed but rather subject to negotiation should the country become independent. The SNP has historically been opposed to membership of Nato, as part and parcel of its opposition to nuclear weapons, however at its 2012 national conference a vote saw party policy change to support of Nato, on the precondition of the removal of all nuclear weapons from Scottish bases.
Contrary to the assumptions of many outwith the party, the SNP is not republican, and its general view is that this is an issue secondary to that of Scottish independence. However, many SNP members are republicans and both the party student and youth wings are expressly so.However, 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.
In August 2009 as part of its third legislative term in the Scottish Parliament, the Government proposes to debate the Scottish referendum bill 2010, which would set out a planned referendum for 30th November 2010 on the issue of Scottish independence. It was not however expected to pass, due to opposition from all the major opposition parties in the Parliament.
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). 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.
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'.
Many political analysts recognize that the commitment of ordinary members and leaders to independence is so strong that comments about tensions are somewhat overblown and driven by the wishful thinking of unionist sympathisers. Some commentators have suggested that there are elements of the SNP party ideology which are anglophobic, something which has been denied by spokespeople for the party itself.
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 Group of The Greens–European Free Alliance 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).
|Leader of the Scottish National Party
First Minister of Scotland
Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland
|Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP|
|Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party
Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment
|Nicola Sturgeon MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy||Bruce Crawford MSP|
|Minister for Public Health||Michael Matheson MSP|
|Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport||Shona Robison MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy||Bruce Crawford MSP|
|Minister for Parliamentary Business||Brian Adam MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth||John Swinney MSP|
|Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism||Fergus Ewing MSP|
|Minister for Local Government and Planning||Derek MacKay MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning||Michael Russell MSP|
|Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning||Alasdair Allan MSP|
|Minister for Children and Young People||Angela Constance MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing||Alex Neil MSP|
|Minister for Housing and Transport||Keith Brown MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Justice||Kenny MacAskill MSP|
|Minister for Community Safety||Roseanna Cunningham MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment||Richard Lochhead MSP|
|Minister for the Environment and Climate Change||Stewart Stevenson MSP|
|Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs||Fiona Hyslop MSP|
|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|
|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|
The SNP have been accused of being Anglophobic. In 2000, the Labour Party said that two SNP members of the Scottish Parliament were anti-English after they "registered their support for Germany's (2006 FIFA World Cup) bid on its official website". 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".
Prominent figures in Scottish politics such as Labour's George Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock and the Liberal Democrats' Jamie Stone (and subsequently Danny Alexander - the current Chief Secretary to the Treasury) have publicly apologised for calling the SNP "xenophobic". SNP MSP Ian McKee has by contrast pointed out his own status in the Scottish Parliament chamber as an Englishman as evidence of there being no such anti-English feeling. Indeed, McKee is one of six SNP MSPs born in England, along with other prominent figures such as Christine Grahame and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Mike Russell.
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.
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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