Nicola Sturgeon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Right Honourable
Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.jpg
First Minister of Scotland
Assumed office
20 November 2014
Deputy John Swinney
Preceded by Alex Salmond
Leader of the Scottish National Party
Assumed office
14 November 2014
Deputy Stewart Hosie
Preceded by Alex Salmond
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
In office
17 May 2007 – 19 November 2014
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Nicol Stephen
Succeeded by John Swinney
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities
In office
5 September 2012 – 19 November 2014
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Alex Neil
Succeeded by Keith Brown
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
In office
17 May 2007 – 5 September 2012
First Minister Alex Salmond
Preceded by Andy Kerr
Succeeded by Alex Neil
Depute Leader of the
Scottish National Party
In office
3 September 2004 – 14 November 2014
Leader Alex Salmond
Preceded by Roseanna Cunningham
Succeeded by Stewart Hosie
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Southside
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded by Constituency created
Majority 9,593 (38.5%)
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Govan
In office
3 May 2007 – 5 May 2011
Preceded by Gordon Jackson
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow
In office
6 May 1999 – 3 May 2007
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Bob Doris
Personal details
Born Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon
19 July 1970 (age 45)
Irvine, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Political party Scottish National Party
Spouse(s) Peter Murrell
Residence Bute House, Edinburgh
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Profession Solicitor

Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon PC (born 19 July 1970) is a Scottish politician who is the fifth and current First Minister of Scotland and the leader of theScottish National Party, in office since 2014. She is the first woman to hold either position. Sturgeon has been a member of the Scottish Parliament since 1999, first as an additional member for the Glasgow electoral region from 1999 to 2007, and as the member for Glasgow Southside since 2007 (known as Glasgow Govan from 2007 to 2011).

A law graduate of the University of Glasgow, Sturgeon worked as a solicitor inGlasgow. She was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and served successively as the SNP’s shadow minister for education, health and justice. In 2004 she announced that she would stand as a candidate for the leadership of the SNP following the resignation of John Swinney. However she later withdrew from the contest in favour of Alex Salmond, standing instead asdepute (deputy) leader on a joint ticket with Salmond.

Both were subsequently elected, and as Salmond was still an MP in the House of Commons, Sturgeon led the SNP in the Scottish Parliament from 2004 to 2007, when Alex Salmond was elected to the Scottish Parliament in the 2007 election. The SNP won the highest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament following the 2007 election, and Alex Salmond was subsequently appointed First Minister of Scotland. He appointed Sturgeon as Deputy First Minister andCabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. She was later appointed asCabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities in 2012.

Following the defeat of the “Yes” campaign in the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, Alex Salmond announced that he would be resigning as party leader at the SNP party conference that November, and would resign as First Minister after a new leader was chosen.[1] No one else was nominated for the post by the time nominations closed on 15 October, leaving Sturgeon to take the party leadership unopposed at the SNP’s annual conference on 14 November. She was formally elected to succeed Salmond as First Minister on 19 November.[2]

In 2016, Forbes magazine ranked Sturgeon as the 50th most powerful woman in the world in 2016 and 2nd in the United Kingdom.[3][4]

Early life and education

Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon[5] was born in Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine,Ayrshire, on 19 July 1970. She is the eldest of three daughters born to Robin Sturgeon (born 1948), an electrician, and Joan Kerr Sturgeon (born Ferguson, 1952), a dental nurse.[6] Her family has some roots in North East England; her paternal grandmother was from Ryhope in what is now the City of Sunderland.[7]

Sturgeon grew up in Prestwick and Dreghorn. She attended Dreghorn Primary School from 1975 to 1982 and Greenwood Academy from 1982 to 1988. She later studied at the University of Glasgow, where she read Law. Sturgeon graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) in 1992 and a Diploma in Legal Practice the following year.[8] During her time at Glasgow University she was active as a member of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Associationand the students’ representative council.

Following her graduation, Sturgeon completed her legal traineeship at McClure Naismith, a Glasgow firm of solicitors, in 1995. After qualifying as asolicitor, she worked for Bell & Craig, a firm of solicitors in Stirling, and later at the Drumchapel Law Centre in Glasgow from 1997 until her election to theScottish Parliament in 1999.

Early political career

Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1986, having already become a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and quickly became their Youth Affairs Vice Convener and Publicity Vice Convener.[9][10]She first stood for election in the 1992 general election as the SNP candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, and was the youngest parliamentary candidate in Scotland, failing to win the seat.

Sturgeon also stood unsuccessfully as the SNP candidate for the Irvine Northward on Cunninghame District Council in May 1992, for the Baillieston/Mount Vernon ward on Strathclyde Regional Council in 1994, and for the Bridgetonward on Glasgow City Council in 1995.

In the mid 1990s, Sturgeon and Charles Kennedy went together on a political study visit to Australia. Sturgeon recalled that she and Kennedy ‘skived off’ to watch Trainspotting in a Melbourne cinema, where they received very strange looks from other members of the audience for ‘uproariously laughing’. She believed this was due to the fact that they were the only two Scots in the audience and were therefore the only ones able to understand the jokes.[11][12]

The 1997 general election saw Sturgeon selected to fight the Glasgow Govan seat for the SNP. Boundary changes meant that the notional Labour majority in the seat had increased substantially. However, infighting between the two rival candidates for the Labour nomination, Mohammed Sarwar and Mike Watson, along with an energetic local campaign, resulted in Glasgow Govan being the only Scottish seat to see a swing away from Labour in the midst of a Labour landslidenationwide. Sarwar did, however, win the seat with a majority of 2,914 votes.[13] Shortly after this, Sturgeon was appointed as the SNP’s spokesperson for energy and education matters.

Sturgeon stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999 as the SNP candidate for Glasgow Govan. Although she failed to win the seat, she was placed first in the SNP’s regional list for the Glasgow region, and was thus elected as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. During the first term of the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon served as a member of the Shadow Cabinets of both Alex Salmond and John Swinney. She was Shadow Minister for Children and Education from 1999 to 2000, Shadow Minister for Health and Community Care from 2000 to 2003, andShadow Minister for Justice from 2003 to 2004. She also served as a member of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee and the Health and Community Care Committee.

Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister

Sturgeon (front right) with Alex Salmond and the rest of the Scottish Government cabinet following election in 2011

On 22 June 2004, John Swinney resigned as Leader of the SNP following poor results in the European Parliament election. His then-depute, Roseanna Cunningham, immediately announced her intention to stand for the leadership. The previous leader, Alex Salmond, announced at the time that he would not stand.[14]On 24 June 2004, Sturgeon announced that she would also be a candidate in the forthcoming election for the leadership, with Kenny MacAskill as her running mate.[15]

However, Salmond later announced that he did intend to stand for the leadership; Sturgeon subsequently withdrew from the contest and declared her support for Salmond, standing instead as his running mate for the depute leadership. It was reported that Salmond had privately supported Sturgeon in her leadership bid, but decided to run for the position himself as it became apparent she was unlikely to beat Cunningham.[16] The majority of the SNP hierarchy lent their support to the Salmond-Sturgeon bid for the leadership, although MSP Alex Neil backed Salmond as leader, but refused to endorse Sturgeon as depute.[17]

The results of the leadership contest were announced on 3 September 2004, with Salmond and Sturgeon elected as Leader and Depute Leader respectively. As Salmond was still an MP in the House of Commons, Sturgeon led the SNP at the Scottish Parliament until the 2007 election, when Salmond was able to be elected as an MSP.[18]

As leader of the SNP in the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon became a high-profile figure in Scottish politics and often clashed with First Minister Jack McConnell at First Minister’s Questions. This included rows over the House of Commons’ decision to replace the Trident nuclear weapon system, and the SNP’s plans to replace council tax in Scotland with a local income tax.[19] Sturgeon defeated Gordon Jackson with a 4.7% swing to the SNP in the 2007 election in Glasgow Govan. The election resulted in a hung parliament, with the SNP the largest party by a single seat; the SNP subsequently formed a minority government. Sturgeon was appointed as the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeingby First Minister Alex Salmond. In the position she saw through party pledges such as scrapping prescription charges and reversing A&E closures, she also became accredited internationally for her handling of the 2009 flu pandemic.[20][21] She was supported in this role by Shona Robison MSP, the Minister for Public Health and Sport, and by Alex Neil MSP, theMinister for Housing and Communities.

At the 2011 election, the SNP won a landslide victory and achieved a large overall majority. Sturgeon was retained as Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing until a reshuffle one year later, when she was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities and an additional role overseeing the referendum on Scottish independence, essentially putting her in charge of the SNP’s referendum campaign.[22] In December 2012, atFerguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow, Sturgeon launched the Caledonian MacBrayne hybrid vessel MV Hallaig. Sturgeon said at this time that she believed that independence would allow Scotland to build a stronger and more competitive country, and would change spending priorities to address “the scandal of soaring poverty in a country as rich as Scotland”.[23]

On 19 September 2014, independence was rejected in the Scottish independence referendum, with 55.3% of the voters voting no and 44.7% voting yes.[24] Following the defeat of the Yes Scotland campaign, Alex Salmond announced his resignation as First Minister and Leader of the SNP. Sturgeon immediately announced that she would be a candidate in the election to replace him, and received huge support from the SNP hierarchy.[25][26][27] Sturgeon claimed that there would be “no greater privilege” than to lead the SNP. On Salmond’s resignation, Sturgeon said:

The personal debt of gratitude I owe Alex is immeasurable. He has been my friend, mentor and colleague for more than 20 years. Quite simply, I would not have been able to do what I have in politics without his constant advice, guidance and support through all these years. Alex’s announcement today inevitably raises the question of whether I will be a candidate to succeed him as SNP leader. I can think of no greater privilege than to seek to lead the party I joined when I was just 16. However, that decision is not for today. My priority this weekend, after a long and hard campaign, is to get some rest and spend time with my family. I also want the focus over the next few days to be on the outstanding record and achievements of the finest First Minister Scotland has had.

Sturgeon (top right) seated with the 2007–2011 Scottish Cabinet following the SNP victory in the 2007 election

Following the referendum defeat, Sturgeon has said that “further devolution is the route to independence”, further claiming that “the more responsibilities we can demonstrate Scotland is capable of successfully discharging, – and the more these are used to build a fairer country and more economic opportunity for all”.[28]Sturgeon also opined that Scottish independence is a matter of “when, not if”.[29]

Leadership of the Scottish National Party

On 24 September 2014, Sturgeon officially launched her campaign bid to succeed Salmond as Leader of the Scottish National Party at the November leadership election.[30][31] A huge number of SNP figures publicly backed Sturgeon’s campaign, and it quickly became apparent that no other candidate would be able to receive the required nominations to stand.[32]During the speech launching her campaign, Sturgeon announced that she would resign as Depute Leader, triggering a concurrent depute leadership election; the MSPs Angela Constance and Keith Brown and the MP Stewart Hosie all nominated themselves to succeed Sturgeon as Depute Leader. Stewart Hosie was elected depute leader with 55% of the vote.[33][33][34]

Nominations for the SNP leadership closed on 15 October, with Sturgeon confirmed as the only candidate. This left her poised to take the leadership unopposed at its Autumn Conference in November.[35] On this date, Sturgeon also came out on top in a trust rating opinion poll, which indicated that 54% of the Scottish population trusted her to “stand up for Scotland’s interests”.[36] After being confirmed as the only candidate, Sturgeon launched a tour of Scotland, visiting SNP members in different cities outlining her vision for Scotland.[37]

Sturgeon was formally acclaimed as the first female Leader of the Scottish National Party on 14 November 2014 at the Autumn Conference in Perth, with Hosie as her depute. This also effectively made her First Minister in waiting, given the SNP’s absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament.[38] In her first speech as leader, Sturgeon said that it was “the privilege of her life” to lead the party she joined as a teenager.[39]

First Minister of Scotland

US Deputy Secretary of StateAntony Blinken meets with Nicola Sturgeon at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on 10 June 2015

On 19 November 2014, Alex Salmond formally resigned as First Minister of Scotland with the election for the new First Minister taking place the following day on the 20th November 2014. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives stood for election. Nicola Sturgeon received 66 votes, Ruth Davidson received 15 and there were 39 abstentions.[40] She was formally sworn into office before a panel of 15 senior judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh the following day, after which she presided over her first session of First Minister’s Questions as First Minister.[41] On 20 November 2014, she was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and therefore granted the title, ‘The Right Honourable‘.[42] On 21 November, she unveiled her Cabinet with a 50/50 gender balance, promoting Finance Secretary John Swinney to become her Deputy First Minister.[43]

Sturgeon has attempted to take a more conciliatory tone than Salmond. For instance, during her first First Minister’s Questions after being sworn in, she said that she came into her new post “with an open mind and a willingness to hear proposals from all sides of the chamber.”[44]

UK 2015 general election

Sturgeon took part in several Scottish and UK wide TV election debates on the run up to the 2015 general election and according to opinion polls was regarded to have had a successful performance.[45] Though she did not stand for election, the SNP went on to win a landslide victory in Scotland, winning 56 out of 59 seats.[46]

On 4 April 2015, a leaked memo from the Scotland Office alleged that Sturgeon privately told the French ambassadorSylvie Bermann that she would “rather see David Cameron remain as PM”. This was in contrast to her publicly stated opposition to a Conservative Government on the run up to the election.[47] The memo was quickly denied by both Sturgeon and the French consulate.[48][49] It was later noted that the memo had contained a disclaimer that parts of the conversation may have been “lost in translation” and its release had been ordered by then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael.[50][51]The scandal of the leak to the The Daily Telegraph became known as ‘Frenchgate’.[52]

Sturgeon stated that Carmichael had “engaged in dirty tricks” and that he should consider his position as an MP.[53]

2016 EU membership referendum

The UK Government held a referendum to decide the future of the United Kingdom’s European Union membership in which all 32 council areas in Scotland voted by a majority for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the EU. 62% of Scottish voters voted to remain a member of the EU, with 38% voting to leave. Overall 52% of voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, with 48% voting to remain. England and Wales voted to leave the EU.[54]

In response to the result, on 24 June 2016, the Scottish Government said officials would begin planning for a second independence referendum.[55][56] Sturgeon claimed that it was “clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union” and that Scotland had “spoken decisively” with a “strong, unequivocal” vote to remain in the European Union.[57] Sturgeon said it is “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland could be taken out of the EU “against its will.”[58]

On 24 June, during a press conference, Sturgeon said she would communicate to all EU member states that Scotland had voted to stay in the EU.[59] An emergency Scottish cabinet meeting on 25 June agreed that the Scottish Government would seek to enter negotiations with the EU and its member states, to explore options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.”[60][61] Sturgeon later said that while she believed in Scottish independence, her starting point in these discussions was to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU.[62]

European politician, Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party Group and a key ally of Angela Merkel, said Scotland would be welcome to remain a member of the EU.[63] The leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group, Guy Verhofstadt, also indicated that he is supportive of Scotland remaining an EU member.[64][65] Gunther Krichbaum, head of the German Committee for EU Affairs, a senior lawmaker and close ally of Angela Merkel has similarly made supportive comments about Scotland becoming a member state of the EU.[66]

She was planning to meet with EU leaders in Brussels to discuss Scotland remaining in the UK. However, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said that such discussions would be “not appropriate” considering the “situation in the UK”.[67]

Nonetheless, she was able to arrange for a meeting on 29 June in Brussels with European Parliament President Martin Shulz and others.[68] Afterwards, Sturgeon said the reception had been “sympathetic” but she conceded that she did not underestimate the challenges. In fact, on the same day, France and Spain objected to negotiations with Scotland, .[69]

Future referendum on independence

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces on 24 June 2016 that a second Scottish independence referendum is “highly likely”

During a press conference at Bute House following the result of the 2016 British European Union membership referendum, Sturgeon stated on 24 June, that the “Scottish government would begin preparing legislation to enable another independence vote,”[70] and later confirmed that the Scottish government has formally agreed to draft legislation to allow a second independence referendum to take place.[71]

As the constitution is a ‘reserved’ matter under the Scotland Act 1998, for a future referendum on Scottish independence to be binding under UK law, it would need to receive the consent of the British Parliament to take place.[72] It has been suggested, however, that the Scottish Parliament could approve a “consultative referendum” on the subject of independence, which would enable the referendum taking place without the approval of the British Parliament. Like the EU referendum, the referendum would not be legally binding under UK law in this case.[73][74]

Scottish Secretary David Mundell stated, on 26 June 2016, that “if the people of Scotland ultimately determine that they want to have another [independence] referendum there will be one”, implying that the British Government wouldn’t prevent another independence referendum.[75]

On 28 June 2016 Sturgeon made it clear that her motion to begin discussions with the EU (for Scotland to remain in theEuropean Union) did not constitute a proposal for a second referendum on independence. “I am emphatically not asking parliament to endorse that step today. A vote on this motion is not a vote for a referendum on independence.”[76] However, her statements indicated that she had parliamentary authority to explore “options” for keeping Scotland in the EU, “including independence”.[77]

Political views

Sturgeon has campaigned for Scottish independence and against replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system.[78] She has been a critic of austerity, saying that the UK government’s “austerity economics” is “morally unjustifiable and economically unsustainable”.[79]

Sturgeon is noted for campaigning for women’s rights and gender equality, and is a self-described feminist; she has argued that Scotland’s feminist moment isn’t simply symbolic, but “sends a powerful signal about equality.”[80] She has hailed Scottish feminist economist Ailsa McKay as one of her inspirations.[81]

Awards and acknowledgements

Sturgeon won the Scottish Politician of the Year Award in 2008, 2012 and 2014. In 2004, 2008 and 2011 she also won theDonald Dewar Debater of the Year Award at the same event, which is organized by The Herald newspaper.

In February 2013, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour assessed Sturgeon as being the 20th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom.[82] She rose to be listed as the most powerful and influential in July 2015.[83]

Personal life

Sturgeon lives in Glasgow with her husband, Peter Murrell, who is the current chief executive of the SNP. The couple have been in a relationship since 2003. They announced their engagement on 29 January 2010 and were married on 16 July 2010 at Òran Mór in Glasgow. Her mother Joan is the SNP Provost of North Ayrshire council, where she has been councillor for the Irvine East ward since 2007.

Sturgeon is a fan of the Danish political drama Borgen, which she has described as “a drama but with an authentic twist. As a politician I can relate to it.”[84] In February 2013 she interviewed Sidse Babett Knudsen, the actress who played fictional prime minister Birgitte Nyborg in the series for STV’s Scotland Tonight when the second series finale was screened at theEdinburgh Filmhouse to promote its DVD release.[84][85]

Sturgeon is a fan of Scottish League One football club Ayr United F.C.[86]

Scottish National Party

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Scottish National Party

  • Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba
  • Scots Naitional Pairtie
Leader Nicola Sturgeon
Depute leader Stewart Hosie
House of Commons Group Leader Angus Robertson
Founded 1934
Merger of
Headquarters Gordon Lamb House
3 Jackson’s Entry
Student wing Federation of Student Nationalists
Youth wing Young Scots for Independence
Membership  (2016) Increase 117,600
Ideology Scottish nationalism[1][2]
Civic nationalism[3][4]
Social democracy[6][7]
Political position Centre-left[9][10][11][12]
European affiliation European Free Alliance
European Parliament group Greens/EFA
Colours      Yellow
House of Commons(Scottish seats)
54 / 59

European Parliament (Scottish seats)
2 / 6

Scottish Parliament
63 / 129

Local government in Scotland[13]
405 / 1,223


The Scottish National Party (SNP; Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba, Scots: Scots Naitional Pairtie) is a Scottish nationalist[14][15] and social-democratic[16][17][18] political party in Scotland. The SNP supports and campaigns for Scottish independence.[5][19] It is the third-largest political party by membership in the United Kingdom, as well as by overall representation in the House of Commons, behind the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, and is the largest party in Scotland, where it dominates both the Scottish Parliament and the country’s parliamentary delegation to the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, is the current First Minister of Scotland.

Founded in 1934 with the merger of the National Party of Scotland and theScottish Party, the party has had continuous parliamentary representationsince Winnie Ewing won the 1967 Hamilton by-election.[20] With the advent of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the SNP became the second largest party, serving two terms as the opposition. The SNP came to power in the 2007 Scottish general election, forming a minority government, before going on to win the 2011 election, after which it formed Scotland’s first majority government.[21]

As of June 2016, the SNP is the largest political party in Scotland in terms of membership with over 117,000 members,[22] around 2% of the Scottish population. Currently the party has 63 MSPs,[23] 54 MPs and approximately 400 local councillors.[24] The SNP also currently has 2 MEPs in the European Parliament, who sit in The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) group. The SNP is a member of the European Free Alliance (EFA).


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. 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 Robert McIntyre MP lost the seat at thegeneral 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 SNP hit a high point in the October 1974 general election, polling almost a third of all votes in Scotland and returning 11 MPs to Westminster. This success was not surpassed until the 2015 general election. 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 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 Partysupported 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.[25]

In May 2011, the SNP won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament with 69 seats. Overall majorities are unusual in theAdditional Member system that is used for elections to the Scottish Parliament,[26]

Based on their 2011 majority, the SNP government held a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. The “No” vote prevailed in a close-fought campaign, prompting the resignation of First Minister Alex Salmond. Forty-five percent of Scottish voters cast their ballots for independence, with the “Yes” side receiving less support than late polling predicted.[27]

The SNP rebounded from the loss in the independence referendum at the UK general election in May 2015, led by Salmond’s successor as first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The party went from holding six seats in the House of Commons to 56, mostly at the expense of the Labour Party. All but three of the fifty nine constituencies in the country elected an SNP candidate. BBC News described the historic result as a “Scots landslide”.[28]

Constitution and structure[edit]

The primary level of organisation in the SNP are the local Branches. All of the Branches within each Scottish Parliament constituency form a Constituency Association, which coordinates the work of the Branches within the constituency, coordinates the activities of the party in the constituency, and acts as a point of liaison between an MSP or MP and the party. Constituency Associations are composed of delegates from all of the Branches within the constituency.

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:

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. There are also regular meetings of the National Assembly, which provides a forum for detailed discussion of party policy by party members.

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.

National Office Bearers[edit]


Since 18 September 2014 (the day of the Scottish independence referendum) party membership has more than quadrupled (from 25,642), surpassing the Liberal Democrats to become the third largest political party in the United Kingdom in terms of membership.[29] As of March 2015, the Party had well exceeded the 100,000 membership mark.[30]

According to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission for the year ending 2012, the party had a total income of £2,300,459 and a total expenditure of about £2,656,059.[31]

European affiliation[edit]

The SNP retains close links with Plaid Cymru, its counterpart in Wales. MPs from both parties co-operate closely with each other and work as a single parliamentary group within the House of Commons. The SNP and Plaid Cymru were involved in joint campaigning during the 2005 General Election campaign. Both the SNP and Plaid Cymru, along with Mebyon Kernowfrom Cornwall, are members of the European Free Alliance (EFA), a European political party comprising regionalist political parties. The EFA co-operates with the larger European Green Party to form The Greens–European Free Alliance(Greens/EFA) group 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 (1979–1984), Rainbow Group (1989–1994) and European Radical Alliance (1994–1999).

Party ideology[edit]

Historical ideology[edit]

The SNP’s policy base is mostly in the mainstream European social democratic tradition. Among its policies are commitments to same-sex marriage, reducing the voting age to 16, unilateral nuclear disarmament,progressive personal taxation, the eradication of poverty, the building of affordable social housing, government subsidised higher education, opposition to the building of new nuclear power plants, investment in renewable energy, the abolition of Air Passenger Duty, and a pay increase for nurses.[32][33]

The Scottish National Party did not have a clear ideological position until the 1970s, when it sought to explicitly present itself as a social democratic party in terms of party policy and publicity.[34][35] During the period from its foundation until the 1960s, the SNP was essentially a moderate centrist party.[34] Debate within the party focused more on the SNP being distinct as an all-Scotland national movement, with it being neither of the left or the right, but constituting a new politics that sought to put Scotland first.[35][36]

The SNP was formed through the merger of the centre-left National Party of Scotland (NPS) and the centre-right Scottish Party.[35] The SNP’s founders were united over self-determination in principle, though not its exact nature, or the best strategic means to achieve self-government. From the mid-1940s onwards, SNP policy was radical and redistributionist in relation to land and in favour of ‘the diffusion of economic power’, including the decentralisation of industries such as coal to include the involvement of local authorities and regional planning bodies to control industrial structure and development.[34]Party policies supported the economic and social policy status quo of the post-war welfare state.[34][37]

By the 1960s, the SNP was starting to become defined ideologically, with a social democratic tradition emerging as the party grew in urban, industrial Scotland, and its membership experienced an influx of social democrats from the Labour Party, the trade unions and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.[38][39] The emergence of Billy Wolfe as a leading figure in the SNP also contributed to this movement to the left. By this period, the Labour Party were also the dominant party in Scotland, in terms of electoral support and representation. Targeting Labour through emphasising left-of-centre policies and values was therefore electorally logical for the SNP, as well as tying in with the ideological preferences of many new party members.[39] In 1961 the SNP conference expressed the party’s opposition to the siting of theUS Polaris submarine base at the Holy Loch. This policy was followed in 1963 by a motion opposed to nuclear weapons: a policy that has remained in place ever since.[40] The 1964 policy document, SNP & You, contained a clear centre-left policy platform, including commitments to full employment, government intervention in fuel, power and transport, a state bank to guide economic development, encouragement of cooperatives and credit unions, extensive building of council houses by central and local government, pensions adjusted to cost of living, a minimum wage and an improved national health service.[34]

The ’60s also saw the beginnings of the SNP’s efforts to establish an industrial organisation and mobilise amongst trade unionists in Scotland, with the establishment of the SNP Trade Union Group, and identifying the SNP with industrial 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.[34] For the party manifestos for the two 1974 general elections, the SNP finally self-identified as a social democratic party, and proposed a range of social democratic policies.[41][42] There was also an unsuccessful proposal at the 1975 party conference to rename the party as the Scottish National Party (Social Democrats).[43]

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 future party leader and First Minister 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, such as campaigning against the poll tax.[34]

Ideological tensions inside the SNP are further complicated by 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, though 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.[34]

Current ideology[edit]

In its economic and welfare state policies, the party has in recent years adopted a markedly feminist profile, influenced by thinkers such as Ailsa McKay.[44] The SNP is against the renewal of Trident and wants to continue providing free university education in Scotland.[45]

The SNP is also a Pro-European party, in which it would like to see an independent Scotland as a member of the European Union.[46]


Leaders of the Scottish National Party[edit]

Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of the Scottish National Party

Depute Leaders of the Scottish National Party[edit]

Presidents of the Scottish National Party[edit]

National Secretaries of the Scottish National Party[edit]

Leaders of the parliamentary party, Scottish Parliament[edit]

Leaders of the parliamentary party, House of Commons[edit]

Ministers and spokespeople[edit]

Scottish Parliament[edit]

See also: Government of the 4th Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government, Members of the 4th Scottish Parliament
Portfolio SNP Spokesperson
Leader of the Scottish National Party
First Minister of Scotland
Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland
Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Deputy First Minister of Scotland
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy
John Swinney MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Keith Brown MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport Shona Robison MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights Alex Neil MSP
Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP
Minister for Parliamentary Business Joe Fitzpatrick MSP
Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay MSP
Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment Annabelle Ewing MSP
Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell MSP
Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages Dr Alasdair Allan MSP
Minister for Public Health Maureen Watt MSP
Minister for Sport and Health Improvement Jamie Hepburn MSP
Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment Marco Biagi MSP
Minister for Housing and Welfare Margaret Burgess MSP
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Dr Aileen McLeod MSP
Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf MSP

United Kingdom Parliament[edit]

Portfolio SNP Spokesperson
SNP Group Leader in the House of Commons
Rt Hon Angus Robertson MP
Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party
Deputy Group Leader
Stewart Hosie MP
Group Secretary
Social Justice and Welfare
Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP
Justice and Home Affairs Joanna Cherry QC MP
International Affairs and Europe Rt Hon Alex Salmond MP
Defence Brendan O’Hara MP
Trade and Investment
Deputy Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh OBE MP
Fair Work and Employment Neil Gray MP
Transport Drew Hendry MP
Environment and Rural Affairs Calum Kerr MP
Energy and Climate Change Callum McCaig MP
Public Services and Education Carol Monaghan MP
Business, Innovation and Skills Hannah Bardell MP
Health Dr Philippa Whitford MP
Member of the Group Executive
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Pete Wishart MP
Chief Whip Michael Weir MP
Scottish Parliament/Scottish Government Liaison Deidre Brock MP

European Parliament[edit]

Portfolio SNP Spokesperson
President of the Scottish National Party
Fisheries; Regional Development
Ian Hudghton MEP
Agriculture and Rural Development Alyn Smith MEP

Elected representatives (current)[edit]

Members of the Scottish Parliament[edit]

Members of Parliament[edit]

Members of the European Parliament[edit]


The SNP had 425 councillors in Local Government elected from the Scottish local elections, 2012.

Electoral performance[edit]

Scottish Parliament Elections[edit]

Year[47] Share of votes Seats won Position Outcome Additional Information
1999 28.7%
35 / 129

(including 7 First Past the Post seats)

2nd Opposition First election to the re-constituted Scottish Parliament. Became the official opposition to the coalition of Labour and Liberal Democrats.
2003 23.8%
27 / 129

(including 9 First Past the Post seats)

2nd Opposition
2007 32.9%
47 / 129

(including 21 First Past the Post seats)

1st Minority Government Largest party in the Scottish Parliament; formed the Scottish Government.
2011 45.4%
69 / 129

(including 53 First Past the Post seats)

1st Majority Government Formed the first majority Scottish Government.
2016 46.5%
63 / 129

(including 59 First Past the Post seats)

1st Minority Government

District Council Elections[edit]

Year[48] Share of votes Seats won
1974 12.4%
62 / 1,158

1977 24.2%
170 / 1,158

1980 15.5%
54 / 1,158

1984 11.7%
59 / 1,158

1988 21.3%
113 / 1,158

1992 24.3%
150 / 1,158

Regional Council Elections[edit]

Year[48] Share of votes Seats won
1974 12.6%
18 / 524

1978 20.9%
18 / 524

1982 13.4%
23 / 524

1986 18.2%
36 / 524

1990 21.8%
42 / 524

1994 26.8%
73 / 453

Local Council Elections[edit]

Year[48] Share of votes Seats won Additional Information
1995 26.1%
181 / 1,222

1999 28.9%
201 / 1,222

2003 24.1%
171 / 1,222

2007 29.7% (first preference)
363 / 1,222

Largest party in local government (first ever Scottish local elections to be held under theSingle Transferable Vote).
2012 32.33% (first preference)
425 / 1,223

Largest party in local government; received largest number of first preference votes.

UK General Elections[edit]

Year[48] Share of votes Seats won Additional Information
1935 1.1%
0 / 71

1945 1.2%
0 / 71

1950 0.4%
0 / 71

1951 0.3%
0 / 71

1955 0.5%
0 / 71

1959 0.5%
0 / 71

1964 2.4%
0 / 71

1966 5.0%
0 / 71

1970 11.4%
1 / 71

1974 (Feb) 21.9%
7 / 71

1974 (Oct) 30.4%
11 / 71

High-water mark, until 2015. Increased presence contributed to Labour holding a devolution referendum in 1979.
1979 17.3%
2 / 71

Poor performance compared to the two 1974 elections caused internal ructions during the 1980s.
1983 11.7%
2 / 72

1987 14.0%
3 / 72

1992 21.5%
3 / 72

1997 22.1%
6 / 72

2001 20.1%
5 / 72

2005 17.7%
6 / 59

2010 19.9%
6 / 59

2015 50.0%
56 / 59

Overall high-water mark and the first time the SNP gained an absolute majority of seats in Scotland.

European Parliament Elections[edit]

Year[48] Share of votes Seats won Additional Information
1979 19.4%
1 / 8

1984 17.8%
1 / 8

1989 25.6%
1 / 8

1994 32.6%
2 / 8

1999 27.2%
2 / 8

2004 19.7%
2 / 7

2009 29.1%
2 / 6

The first European Parliament elections in which the SNP won the most votes within Scotland.[49]
2014 29.0%
2 / 6

SNP won the most votes within Scotland.

See also