The SNP is a progressive social democratic party and is the only party with Scotland’s interest at its heart. Among its policies, in no order of priority, are commitments to unilateral nuclear disarmament, investment in renewable energy, opposition to investing in nuclear power plants, the eradication of poverty, the building of affordable social housing, free higher education in Scotland, Land Reform, the abolition of Air Passenger Duty, votes for 16 and 17 year olds and the protection of the NHS.
The SNP was formed in 1934 through the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party, with Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham as its first president.
The party was brought to national prominence when Winnie Ewing won the Hamilton seat in 1967 and became an MP.
A high point for the party was in the 1974 General Election polling almost a third of all votes in Scotland and returning 11 MPs to Westminster. However, the party experienced a large drop in its support at the 1979 General election, followed by a further drop at the 1983 election.
In the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary election the SNP emerged as the largest party with 47 seats and Alex Salmond became First Minister of Scotland.
In the Holyrood 2011 election, the SNP won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament with 69 seats. This was somewhat unusual as the Labour Westminster Government designed, in 1999, the Additional Member system to prevent any party gaining overall control of the Scottish Parliament.
Based on the 2011 majority, the SNP government held a Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014. The “No” vote prevailed in a close-fought campaign with only 45% of Scottish voters saying YES, prompting the resignation of First Minister, Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, being voted in as the leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon led the party to an outstanding result in the UK general election in May 2015. The party went from holding 6 seats in the House of Commons to 56, mostly at the expense of the Labour Party. Only 3 of the 59 constituencies did not elect an SNP candidate.
Constitution and Structure
The primary level of the party’s organisation are the local Branches. All of the Branches within each Scottish Parliament constituency form a Constituency Association which are composed of delegates from all of the branches within the constituency.
The Constituency Association coordinates:
- the work of the Branches within the constituency
- coordinates the activities of the party in the constituency
- acts as a point of liaison between an MSP or MP and the party
The annual National Conference is the supreme governing body of the SNP and is responsible for determining party policy and electing the National Executive Committee.
The National Conference is composed of:
- delegates from every Branch and Constituency Association
- the members of the National Executive Committee
- every SNP MSP, MP and MEP
- a number of SNP local councillors
- delegates from one of the SNP’s Affiliated Organisations i.e. Young Scots for Independence, the Federation of Student Nationalists, SNP Trade Union Group
The National Council serves as the SNP’s governing body between National Conferences and its decisions are binding unless rescinded or modified by the National Conference. The party’s leadership is vested in its National Executive Committee, which is made up of the party’s elected office bearers and six elected members who are voted for at conference. The SNP MPs, MSPs and MEPs together with councillors and members of the Trade Union Group, Youth wing and Student wing have representation on the Council.