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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
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
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
The SNP challenge is spearheaded by
our Shadow Cabinet Team in the Scottish Parliament
|John Swinney MP MSP
|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
|Andrew Wilson MSP
|Kenny Gibson MSP
|Bruce Crawford MSP
||Transport & Environment
|Colin Campbell MSP
|Christine Grahame MSP
|Tricia Marwick MSP
|Kay Ullrich MSP
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
WHAT SAY DOES THE ORDINARY MEMBER
HAVE IN THE SNP?
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.
SCOTTlSH NATIONAL PARTY STRUCTURE
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
||Dr Winnie Ewing MSP
||Professor Neil MacCormick MEP
||Andrew Welsh MP MSP
||Alasdair Morgan MP MSP
||John Swinney MP MSP
|Senior Vice Convener
||Roseanna Cunningham MP MSP
|Executive Vice Conveners
||Cllr Peter Johnston
||Fiona Hyslop MSP
|Ten Elected Members
|Alex Salmond MP MSP
||Kenny MacAskill MSP
|Alex Neil MSP
||Nicola Sturgeon MSP
|Michael Russell MSP
||Fergus Ewing MSP
AFFILIATED ORGANISATIONS AND SPECIAL
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
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
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.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF
THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY
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.
ITíS SCOTLANDíS OIL
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.
1979 AND THE AFTERMATH
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 SETTLED WILL OF THE SCOTTISH
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
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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