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Scottish National Party
SNP - Scottish National Party
107 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NW
Tel 0131 525 8900  E-mail

The SNP is a democratic left-of-centre political party committed to Scottish independence. It aims to create a just, caring and enterprising society in the mainstream of modem Europe by releasing Scotlandís full potential as an independent nation.

The SNP was founded in 1934 and scored its first parliamentary success at Westminster when Dr Robert McIntyre won the Motherwell by-election in 1945. The Party has had continuous representation at the Westminster Parliament since 1967, when Winnie Ewing won the Hamilton by-election.

At the first Scottish Parliament elections, held in 1999, the SNP returned a total number of 35 MSPs and is now the Official Opposition in the Scottish Parliament, posing the only serious challenge to Labour.

At local authority level, the SNP has over 200 councillors, representing almost 30% of the national vote, controls two council administrations (Angus and Clackmannan) and forms the major opposition group on many others. At European level, the SNP secured 27.2% of the vote and is represented in the European Parliament by Ian Hudghton MEP and Professor Neil MacCormick MEP.

The SNP now has a higher base of support than at any time in its history. It is ahead of all the other parties in local council by-elections, since May 1999, and recorded two sensational swings at parliamentary by-elections in Hamilton South and Ayr. The SNP is also ahead in recent opinion polls, which show that a majority of Scots want more constitutional change and would like to see the powers of the Scottish Parliament increased.

With a new leader in place, the SNP is winning the independence argument and looks forward to contesting the upcoming Westminster elections from its strongest ever position. The party is offering a clear route map to independence through a national referendum and. is confident that it can and will win such a referendum.

The SNP is an inclusive party and welcomes all those who wish to help build a just, caring and enterprising Scotland. It is committed to achieving Scotlandís independence within this political generation and is ready for the challenge ahead.

The SNP challenge is spearheaded by our Shadow Cabinet Team in the Scottish Parliament

John Swinney MP MSP First Minister
Roseanna Cunningham MP MSP Deputy Leader, Justice
Kenny MacAskill MSP Enterprise & Lifelong Learning
Michael Russell MSP Children & Education
Fiona Hyslop MSP Housing & Social Inclusion
Nicola Sturgeon MSP Health & Community Care
Fergus Ewing MSP Rural Affairs
Andrew Wilson MSP Finance
Kenny Gibson MSP Local Government
Bruce Crawford MSP Transport & Environment
Colin Campbell MSP Defence
Christine Grahame MSP Social Security
Tricia Marwick MSP Business Manager
Kay Ullrich MSP Chief Whip

Every member of the SNP pays a membership levy and is entitled to the same rights as every other member. Members are organised into Branches, which are groups of more than 20 members in a local area.

Branches are the backbone of the Scottish National Party. They raise funds for the Party, organise campaigns and ensure that the SNP message is promoted in their area. They also contest elections at local level.

When somebody joins the SNP they are put in touch with their local Branch. Every member makes a judgement as to how involved he or she wishes to be. Some people like to get fully involved in party activities such as campaigning, raising funds, selecting candidates, participating in policy making at national meetings and raising the profile of the SNP in their local area. Others may prefer simply to carry the SNP membership card and help with our funds.


Every member has an equal say in the SNP. Local Branch members all have the same right to speak and to vote and local Branches can submit motions on policy and national strategy to be discussed by the party at national level. The SNP has no block votes - our strength lies in the thousands of individual members located in Branches throughout Scotland, in London and in Brussels.


Branches are drawn together to form a Constituency Association (CA), based on the parliamentary boundaries in Scotland. These CAs select candidates to fight elections and coordinate the Partyís campaigns at local level. Branches and CAs send representatives to the two national bodies which agree the policies and direction of the Party, National Council and Annual Conference. Annual Conference is the supreme governing body of the Party and elects the National Executive Committee, the leadership of the Party, which deals with the day-to-day running of its affairs.

The National Executive Committee comprises:-

President Dr Winnie Ewing MSP
Vice-Presidents Professor Neil MacCormick MEP
Andrew Welsh MP MSP
Alasdair Morgan MP MSP
National Convener John Swinney MP MSP
Senior Vice Convener Roseanna Cunningham MP MSP
Executive Vice Conveners
Fundraising Peter Wishart
Local Government Cllr Peter Johnston
Organisation Kate Higgins
Policy Fiona Hyslop MSP
Publicity Anne Dana
Youth Affairs Shirley-Anne Sommerville
National Secretary Stewart Hosie
National Treasurer Jim Mather
Ten Elected Members
Alex Salmond MP MSP Kenny MacAskill MSP
Alex Neil MSP Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Michael Russell MSP Fergus Ewing MSP
Bashir Ahrnad William Wolfe
Tom Chalmers Gerry Fisher


The recognised affiliated organisations within the SNP are:

  • Young Scots for Independence (YSI), the official youth wing of the Scottish National Party. The YSI has representation on all major party bodies which enables it to play a constructive role in the formulation of SNP policy. Youth members have a tradition of strong campaigning on issues such as poverty and national youth issues and play an important rule in winning young voters for the SNP.

  • Federation of Student Nationalists - SNP Students, the student wing of the SNP, which is active in most colleges and universities throughout Scotland. The FSN has become a major political force in Scotlandís further and higher education institutions, at the forefront of resistance to attacks on Scottish education from successive British governments.

  • Association of Nationalist Councillors (ANC) is a national body comprising all SNP councillors which acts as a forum for SNP councillors to share ideas and strategies and co-ordinate the work of SNP councillors at national level.

  • SNP Trade Union Group has a dual role - to promote the role of trade unions within the SN? and to promote the aims and objectives of the SNP within the wider trade union movement.

Other groups include:

  • Asian Scots for Independence, promoting independence and reinforcing the strong links between the SNP and the Scottish Asian community.

  • New Scots for Independence, for SNP members and supporters born furth of Scotland playing their part in building Scotlandís independent future.

  • SNP Womenís Forum, promoting the active participation of women at all levels of the party.


SNP HQ offers services to the Party and members of the public. The work of the Party is co-ordinated by Headquarters, which provides support and information for the Party at local level. Within Headquarters there are various departments - Organisation, Administration, Fundraising and Enquiries.


The Scottish National Party has been at the forefront of the campaign for Scottish self-determination for almost seventy years. The evolution of the SNP has been paralleled by the political evolution of Scotland herself from an almost totally unionist country to a nation on the brink of independence.


The SNPís origins can be traced back to several organisations advocating Home Rule in the 1920s and 30s. In 1928 the Scots National League and the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association both combined with the poet Lewis Spenceís Scottish National Movement to form the National Party of Scotland. Lewis Spence was the first nationalist to stand for election in 1929. He contested Midlothian and Peebleshire Northern and came fourth, with 4.5% of the vote. The NPS can be seen as the most direct forerunner of the modem SNP as it shared the same left of centre outlook and the same commitment to independence. By 1934 the National Party had amalgamated with the smaller Scottish Party to form the Scottish National Party (the name was not commonly abbreviated to the SNP until the 1960s).


In 1945 the party scored its first electoral triumph when Dr Robert McIntyre was elected with 51.4% of the vote in a straight fight against the Labour Party at a by-election in Motherwell. Labour regained the seat shortly afterwards at the General Election: it was to be twenty-one years before the next SNP MP was elected.

Nevertheless, nationalist sentiment throughout Scotland was growing, fostered by activities such as the unauthorised return of the Stone of Destiny, which was brought back to Scotland by four Glasgow University students on Christmas Day 1950.


As membership rose through the 1960s, the party extended its base of support. The first real electoral breakthrough for the SNP came in 1967 when Winnie Ewing won a famous victory at the Hamilton by-election. The seat was lost again at the General Election of 1970 but, during her three years at Westminster, Winnie had an electrifying effect on Scottish politics.

In 1968 the SNP won 30% of the vote at the municipal elections and in the 1970 General Election fielded a record 65 candidates, polling 11.4% of the overall votes. Although the SNP lost Hamilton, Donald Stewart took the Western Isles (becoming the first SNP candidate to win a seat at a General Election) and in 1973 the SNP scored another sensational by-election victory when Margo MacDonald took Glasgow Govan, with a huge swing from Labour.


During the 1970s the SNP launched one of its most influential campaigns - Itís Scotlandís Oil. The realisation that the Scottish people were being excluded from the economic benefits generated by the discovery of oil and gas in the North Sea transformed Scottish politics and gave the SNP a major boost in both membership and votes. The campaign strengthened the economic arguments in favour of independence and underscored the need for Scotland to control her own resources.

The 1974 General Elections proved a breakthrough for the SNP with 7 MPs elected in February and 11 in October. This was a massive leap forward which forced the pace of the political debate and the Labour government was compelled by public opinion to legislate for Scottish devolution.


In March 1979 a referendum took place on a devolved Assembly for Scotland. It was carried out under the burden of the notorious 40% rule which meant that the devolution proposals could not be passed by a simple majority but required the support of 40% of the electorate. This resulted in a situation where people who either couldnít or wouldnít vote (including the dead) were effectively counted as No voters. The Yes campaign won a majority of the votes but failed to garner 40% so devolution fell. When the Conservatives won the ensuing General Election most political commentators believed that the issue of Home Rule for Scotland was dead.

The 1979 Election was a setback for the SNP and the 1983 Election wasnít much better. At the 1987 General Election the SNP leader Gordon Wilson lost his seat, as did Donald Stewart in the Western Isles. These losses were offset, however, by victories elsewhere as Alex Salmond won in Banff & Buchan, Margaret Ewing took Moray and Andrew Welsh took Angus. Nevertheless the 1980s were a difficult period for the SNP and for Scotland in general and the imposition of Tory policies by a government which had not been elected by the Scottish people came to be seen as constituting a democratic deficit which had to be addressed.


In 1988 the SNP won another sensational by-election at Glasgow Govan, when Jim Sillars overturned a Labour majority of 19,000 and re-ignited the Scottish constitutional debate. In 1990 Gordon Wilson decided to stand down as leader and the party elected as his successor Alex Salmond. In 1992 the SNP increased its share of the vote to 21.5% (though thanks to Westminsterís first-past-the-post system this was not translated into an increased number of seats.) In 1994 the SNP continued to increase its share of the vote - to 26% in the Regional elections and 32.6% in the elections to the European Parliament. In 1995 Roseanna Cunningham won the Perth by-election with 40.4% of the vote - and this time the SNP held the seat at the ensuing General Election.


The 1997 General Election saw the end of Tory dominance at Westminster and the first Labour government since the 1970s. However, Labourís Scottish victory was far from overwhelming as the SNP increased its share of the vote and gained two new seats, keeping up the pressure on Labour to deliver on their promise to legislate for devolution. In September 1997 a referendum was held on whether there should be a devolved Scottish Parliament and whether that Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers. The SNP campaigned hard for a Yes vote and the result was an overwhelming endorsement of the Yes Yes campaign.


The first elections to the Scottish Parliament were held in May 1999 and, since the electoral system used involved an element of proportionality, for the first time the SNp saw their increased share of the vote translated into actual seats and returned 35 MSPs. When the Scottish Parliament met for the first time on 12th May 1999 it was given to Winnie Ewing, as the oldest member present, to open the proceedings. She did so with the words "The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the 25th March 1707, is hereby re-convened."

Recent opinion polls have consistently shown that, far from regarding the Scottish Parliament as representing the settled will of the Scottish people, the majority of Scots want the Parliament to have more powers. It is the role of the SNP to complete the Parliamentís powers and deliver a clear route to independence. In July 2000 Alex Salmond announced that he was standing down as National Convener of the SNP. The party elected John Swinney, MP & MSP for North Tayside, to succeed him. In the ten years of Alex Salmondís leadership the SNP has moved from the fringes of Scottish politics to centre stage and is now in its strongest ever position to move Scotland forward to independence.

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