|The Right Honourable
|First Minister of Scotland|
20 November 2014
|Preceded by||Alex Salmond|
|Leader of the Scottish National Party|
14 November 2014
|Preceded by||Alex Salmond|
|Deputy First Minister of Scotland|
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|
5 September 2012 – 19 November 2014
|First Minister||Alex Salmond|
|Preceded by||Alex Neil|
|Succeeded by||Keith Brown|
|Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing|
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
3 September 2004 – 14 November 2014
|Preceded by||Roseanna Cunningham|
|Succeeded by||Stewart Hosie|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Southside
6 May 2011
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Govan
3 May 2007 – 5 May 2011
|Preceded by||Gordon Jackson|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament
6 May 1999 – 3 May 2007
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
|Succeeded by||Bob Doris|
|Born||Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon
19 July 1970
|Political party||Scottish National Party|
|Residence||Bute House, Edinburgh|
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow|
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. 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.
- 1Early life and education
- 2Early political career
- 3Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister
- 4Leadership of the Scottish National Party
- 5First Minister of Scotland
- 6Political views
- 7Awards and acknowledgements
- 8Personal life
- 10External links
Early life and education
Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon 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. Her family has some roots in North East England; her paternal grandmother was from Ryhope in what is now the City of Sunderland.
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. 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.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.
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. 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
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.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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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”.
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. 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. 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.
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”.Sturgeon also opined that Scottish independence is a matter of “when, not if”.
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. 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.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.
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. 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”. After being confirmed as the only candidate, Sturgeon launched a tour of Scotland, visiting SNP members in different cities outlining her vision for Scotland.
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. 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.
First Minister of Scotland
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. 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. On 20 November 2014, she was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and therefore granted the title, ‘The Right Honourable‘. On 21 November, she unveiled her Cabinet with a 50/50 gender balance, promoting Finance Secretary John Swinney to become her Deputy First Minister.
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.”
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. Though she did not stand for election, the SNP went on to win a landslide victory in Scotland, winning 56 out of 59 seats.
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. The memo was quickly denied by both Sturgeon and the French consulate. 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.The scandal of the leak to the The Daily Telegraph became known as ‘Frenchgate’.
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.
In response to the result, on 24 June 2016, the Scottish Government said officials would begin planning for a second independence referendum. 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. Sturgeon said it is “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland could be taken out of the EU “against its will.”
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. 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.” 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.
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. 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. 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.
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”.
Nonetheless, she was able to arrange for a meeting on 29 June in Brussels with European Parliament President Martin Shulz and others. 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, .
Future referendum on independence
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,” and later confirmed that the Scottish government has formally agreed to draft legislation to allow a second independence referendum to take place.
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. 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.
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.
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.” However, her statements indicated that she had parliamentary authority to explore “options” for keeping Scotland in the EU, “including independence”.
Sturgeon has campaigned for Scottish independence and against replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system. She has been a critic of austerity, saying that the UK government’s “austerity economics” is “morally unjustifiable and economically unsustainable”.
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.” She has hailed Scottish feminist economist Ailsa McKay as one of her inspirations.
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. She rose to be listed as the most powerful and influential in July 2015.
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.” 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.
Scottish National Party
|Depute leader||Stewart Hosie|
|House of Commons Group Leader||Angus Robertson|
|Headquarters||Gordon Lamb House
3 Jackson’s Entry
|Student wing||Federation of Student Nationalists|
|Youth wing||Young Scots for Independence|
|European affiliation||European Free Alliance|
|European Parliament group||Greens/EFA|
|House of Commons(Scottish seats)||
54 / 59
|European Parliament (Scottish seats)||
2 / 6
63 / 129
|Local government in Scotland||
405 / 1,223
The Scottish National Party (SNP; Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba, Scots: Scots Naitional Pairtie) is a Scottish nationalist and social-democratic political party in Scotland. The SNP supports and campaigns for Scottish independence. 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. 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.
As of June 2016, the SNP is the largest political party in Scotland in terms of membership with over 117,000 members, around 2% of the Scottish population. Currently the party has 63 MSPs, 54 MPs and approximately 400 local councillors. 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.
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,
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.
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”.
Constitution and structure
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:
- delegates from every Branch and Constituency Association
- the members of the National Executive Committee
- 15 members elected by the National Conference
- every SNP MSP, MP and MEP
- a number of SNP local councillors, and
- delegates from one of the SNP’s Affiliated Organisations (Young Scots for Independence, Federation of Student Nationalists, SNP Trade Union Group and the Association of Nationalist Councillors)
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
- President: Ian Hudghton MEP
- Leader: Nicola Sturgeon MSP
- Depute Leader: Stewart Hosie MP
- National Treasurer: Colin Beattie MSP
- National Secretary: Patrick Grady MP
- Business Convener: Derek Mackay MSP
- Organisation Convener: Douglas Chapman MP
- Local Government Convener: Councillor Susan Aitken
- Political Education Convener: Anne McLaughlin MP
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. As of March 2015, the Party had well exceeded the 100,000 membership mark.
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).
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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.
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. During the period from its foundation until the 1960s, the SNP was essentially a moderate centrist party. 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.
The SNP was formed through the merger of the centre-left National Party of Scotland (NPS) and the centre-right Scottish Party. 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.Party policies supported the economic and social policy status quo of the post-war welfare state.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. There was also an unsuccessful proposal at the 1975 party conference to rename the party as the Scottish National Party (Social Democrats).
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.
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.
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. The SNP is against the renewal of Trident and wants to continue providing free university education in Scotland.
Leaders of the Scottish National Party
- Sir Alexander MacEwen, 1934–1936
- Andrew Dewar Gibb, 1936–1940
- William Power, 1940–1942
- Douglas Young, 1942–1945
- Bruce Watson, 1945–1947
- Robert McIntyre, 1947–1956
- James Halliday, 1956–1960
- Arthur Donaldson, 1960–1969
- William Wolfe, 1969–1979
- Gordon Wilson, 1979–1990
- Alex Salmond, 1990–2000
- John Swinney, 2000–2004
- Alex Salmond, 2004–2014
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2014–present
Depute Leaders of the Scottish National Party
- Sandy Milne, 1964–1966
- William Wolfe, 1966–1969
- George Leslie, 1969–1971
- Douglas Henderson, 1971–1973
- Gordon Wilson, 1973–1974
- Margo MacDonald, 1974–1979
- Douglas Henderson, 1979–1981
- Jim Fairlie, 1981–1984
- Margaret Ewing, 1984–1987
- Alex Salmond, 1987–1990
- Alasdair Morgan, 1990–1991
- Jim Sillars, 1991–1992
- Allan Macartney, 1992–1998
- John Swinney, 1998–2000
- Roseanna Cunningham, 2000–2004
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2004–2014
- Stewart Hosie, 2014–present
Presidents of the Scottish National Party
- Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, 1934–1936
- Roland Muirhead, 1936–1950
- Tom Gibson, 1950–1958
- Robert McIntyre, 1958–1980
- William Wolfe, 1980–1982
- Donald Stewart, 1982–1987
- Winnie Ewing, 1987–2005
- Ian Hudghton, 2005–present
National Secretaries of the Scottish National Party
- John MacCormick, 1934–1942
- Robert McIntyre, 1942–1947
- Mary Fraser Dott, 1947–1951
- Robert Curran, 1951–1954
- John Smart, 1954–1963
- Malcolm Shaw, 1963–1964
- Gordon Wilson, 1964–1971
- Muriel Gibson, 1971–1972
- Rosemary Hall, 1972–1975
- Muriel Gibson, 1975–1977
- Chrissie MacWhirter, 1977–1979
- Iain Murray, 1979–1981
- Neil MacCallum, 1981–1986
- John Swinney, 1986–1992
- Alasdair Morgan, 1992–1997
- Stewart Hosie, 1999–2003
- Alasdair Allan, 2003–2006
- Duncan Ross, 2006–2012
- Patrick Grady, 2012–present
Leaders of the parliamentary party, Scottish Parliament
- Alex Salmond, 1999–2000
- John Swinney, 2000–2004
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2004–2007
- Alex Salmond, 2007–2014
- Nicola Sturgeon, 2014–present
Leaders of the parliamentary party, House of Commons
- Donald Stewart, 1974–1987
- Margaret Ewing, 1987–1999
- Alasdair Morgan, 1999–2001
- Alex Salmond, 2001–2007
- Angus Robertson, 2007–present
Ministers and spokespeople
- See also: Government of the 4th Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government, Members of the 4th Scottish Parliament
United Kingdom Parliament
|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|
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|
|President of the Scottish National Party
Fisheries; Regional Development
|Ian Hudghton MEP|
|Agriculture and Rural Development||Alyn Smith MEP|
Elected representatives (current)
Members of the Scottish Parliament
Members of Parliament
Members of the European Parliament
Scottish Parliament Elections
|Year||Share of votes||Seats won||Position||Outcome||Additional Information|
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.|
27 / 129
(including 9 First Past the Post seats)
47 / 129
(including 21 First Past the Post seats)
|1st||Minority Government||Largest party in the Scottish Parliament; formed the Scottish Government.|
69 / 129
(including 53 First Past the Post seats)
|1st||Majority Government||Formed the first majority Scottish Government.|
63 / 129
(including 59 First Past the Post seats)
District Council Elections
|Year||Share of votes||Seats won|
62 / 1,158
170 / 1,158
54 / 1,158
59 / 1,158
113 / 1,158
150 / 1,158
Regional Council Elections
|Year||Share of votes||Seats won|
18 / 524
18 / 524
23 / 524
36 / 524
42 / 524
73 / 453
Local Council Elections
|Year||Share of votes||Seats won||Additional Information|
181 / 1,222
201 / 1,222
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
|Year||Share of votes||Seats won||Additional Information|
0 / 71
0 / 71
0 / 71
0 / 71
0 / 71
0 / 71
0 / 71
0 / 71
1 / 71
7 / 71
11 / 71
|High-water mark, until 2015. Increased presence contributed to Labour holding a devolution referendum in 1979.|
2 / 71
|Poor performance compared to the two 1974 elections caused internal ructions during the 1980s.|
2 / 72
3 / 72
3 / 72
6 / 72
5 / 72
6 / 59
6 / 59
56 / 59
|Overall high-water mark and the first time the SNP gained an absolute majority of seats in Scotland.|
European Parliament Elections
|Year||Share of votes||Seats won||Additional Information|
1 / 8
1 / 8
1 / 8
2 / 8
2 / 8
2 / 7
2 / 6
|The first European Parliament elections in which the SNP won the most votes within Scotland.|
2 / 6
|SNP won the most votes within Scotland.|
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Socialist Equality Party
|Founded||1986, as Workers Revolutionary Party (Internationalist))|
|Split from||Workers Revolutionary Party|
|Youth wing||International Youth and Students for Social Equality (Britain)|
|International affiliation||International Committee of the Fourth International|
The Socialist Equality Party is a Trotskyist group in Britain. It is one of several Socialist Equality Parties affiliated with the International Committee of the Fourth International. The ICFI publishes daily news articles, perspectives and commentaries on the World Socialist Web Site.
The party’s origins lie in the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) until the majority of that party split from the ICFI in 1986. A group in the WRP supported the ICFI and left the WRP. Initially known as the Workers Revolutionary Party (Internationalist), they soon became the International Communist Party, based in Sheffield. They stood in several elections before renaming themselves in 1996, in line with other sections of the international organisation.
The party’s manifesto claims the necessity for the development of a new and genuinely socialist movement against aConservative Party government which functions as the political tool of the super-rich. It calls for the unity of workers throughout Britain with their brothers and sisters internationally in opposition to the eruption of US aggression, which, with the Tory’s support, threatens to spread the illegal wars against Iraq and Afghanistan into Syria and possibly Iran.
The manifesto states: “The fight against war is bound up with the struggle to put an end to the capitalist profit system by reorganizing economic life to meet the social interests of the vast majority of the world’s population rather than the selfish interests of a parasitic elite.” (See SEP election manifesto)
The SEP held a public meeting in Sheffield on 23 February 2011 to address the attempts to extradite Julian Assange. Robert Stevens spoke in defence of Assange, characterising the legal proceedings as “a manhunt”.
The SEP ran candidates in the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections and the 2007 Welsh Assembly elections, but failed to gain any seats. The party ran a candidate, Chris Talbot, in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election who received 84 votes. Two candidates stood in the 2010 general election, David O’Sullivan in Oxford East, who received 116 votes, and Robert Skelton in Manchester Central, who received 54 votes.
- See Communist party (disambiguation) for other similarly named groups.
Communist Labour Party
|National Secretary||John Maclean|
|Succeeded by||Communist Party of Great Britain|
The Communist Labour Party was a small Communist Party in Scotland. It was formed in September 1920 by the Scottish Workers’ Committee and the Scottish section of the Communist Party (British Section of the Third International) (CP(BSTI)), some members of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) and various local communist groups. In the same month, the Communist Party of South Wales and the West of England was founded, with a very similar programme.
Under the influence of John Maclean MA, the group was provisionally named the Scottish Communist Party. However, its founding conference, which Maclean did not attend, renamed it the Communist Labour Party. It also decided that it should remain a provisional body with the aim of joining theCommunist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), a position championed by Willie Gallacher. His positions defeated, Maclean left the group and instead joined the SLP. The Communist Labour Party then joined the CPGB, along with the remainder of the CP(BSTI) in January 1921.
|National affiliation||Alliance for Democracy|
|European Parliament group||None|
The Christian Party, which includes the Scottish Christian Party and theWelsh Christian Party, is a minor political party in Great Britain. Members of the Christian Peoples Alliance split off in 2004 under George Hargreaves to found the Christian Party, which compared to the CPA has more of a Christian right perspective. Its leader is now Jeff Green.
The party originated as Operation Christian Vote, founded by George Hargreaves, a Pentecostal minister and former songwriter, in May 2004. It was based in Stornoway, Scotland. It contested the 2004 European Elections in the Scotland constituency, gaining 1.8% of the popular vote.
Hargreaves was a candidate for Operation Christian Vote in the Birmingham Hodge Hill by-election in 2004 where he received 90 votes, last place in a field of seven candidates, and lost his deposit. In the 2005 general election, Hargreaves stood in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, where he was placed fourth, ahead of the Conservatives, and retained his deposit with 1,048 votes or 7.6%.
The party became known as the Christian Party.
Registration as a party
The party was registered by the Electoral Commission on 29 April 2004, with the name ‘Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship!”‘. It has registered nine party descriptions, and two translations, to be used on ballot papers, namely:
- Christian Party
- Christian Party (Scotland)
- Scottish Christian Party
- Scottish Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”
- The Christian Party
- The Scottish Christian Party
- Welsh Christian Party
- Welsh Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”
- Plaid Gristionogol Cymru
- Plaid Gristionogol Cymru “Datgan Arglwyddiaeth Crist”
In June 2012, legal action was taken against the Christian Party treasurer by the Electoral Commission for £2,750 for failure to supply accounts for two years as well as for failure to pay previous fines. The party de-registered the following month. Hargreaves was given a further 6 months to supply accounts, but failed to do so and was consequently fined a further £3,000 on top of a previous fine of £1,125 for failing to meet the deadline for provision of accounts.
As a result, the party was de-registered in July 2012 and after the regulatory 6 months had elapsed, re-registered under a new party RPP under the leadership of Jeff Green. Sue Green is the party treasurer and Dr Donald Boyd is the nominating officer and leader of the Scottish Christian Party. The leader of the Welsh Christian Party and overall leader is Green.
Candidates from the party stood in the Sedgefield and Ealing Southallby-elections in 2007. The party received 26,575 votes (0.7%) in the2007 Scottish Parliament election and 8,693 votes (0.9%) in the 2007 Welsh Assembly Election; it did not come close to winning any seats.
Hargreaves stood for the party at the Haltemprice and Howden by-election, 2008, and received 76 votes or 0.3% of the total votes cast.
The party competed in the 2009 European elections. Its campaign was mainly focussed in London. The British Humanist Association had put up advertisements on London buses saying “there’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life“. The party then produced similar adverts saying “there definitely is a God, so join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.” The advert received over 1,000 complaints. On election day, the party retained one deposit in the London regionthrough gaining 51,336 votes (2.9%).
In the 2010 United Kingdom general election, the party stood 71 candidates, gaining 18,623 votes.
The newly re-registered Christian Party contested the Eastleigh by-election in February 2013 with its candidate Kevin Milburn, a retired former prison officer and health care worker who stood against same-sex marriage. He received 163 votes (0.4%).
The Christian Party fielded nine candidates in the 2015 general election who between them polled 3,205 votes. Only John Cormack in Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) saved his deposit with 6.6%; the other eight each received less than 1% of the votes cast.
The party’s mission statement is, “Christians working together to bring Christian concern, goodwill and action into the community, education, business and politics.”
The party’s website includes a statement of its policies which include the following:
- Promote personal and corporate financial responsibility
- Promote government creation of money to be managed by the Bank of England to avoid national indebtedness to commercial banks
‘Law and order’ manifesto
- Change the role of the Social Services to support parental authority
- Make contraception for minors illegal without parental approval
- Re-instate in loco parentis as a fundamental principle of school teaching
- Make private health insurance a visa requirement for migrants
- Oblige private medical insurers to inform the Home Office when a private medical insurance policy linked to a visa is allowed to lapse or expires
- Review and reduce Health and Safety legislation
- Reform the benefit system to remove the risk associated with leaving the welfare system and entering work. This would be accomplished by suspending benefit claims for a period of 9 months rather than closing them when an unemployed person gains employment. Within the 9-month period an unemployed person will be able to audit three jobs before their claim is liable to closure.
- Negotiated agreement with the European Union to apply the immigration points system to migrants from the European Union, or in the event of non-agreement the declaration of a unilateral change in immigration policy
- Make private health insurance a visa requirement for immigrants
- Initiate a “No (private sector) Home – No Visa” policy
- Challenge the increasing levels of consumption
- Have Sunday restored as a day of rest
- Seek a new global financial system which supports sustainable use of resources
Government and democracy
- Support significant cuts in the public sector workforce in order to reduce the size of government and the size of the government spending
- Support a major re-employment and training programme to make it easier for public sector workers to transfer to the private sector
- Call for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty within the first year of the new Parliament
‘Respect for the human person’ manifesto
- Oppose abortion
- Opposing the legal recognition of same-sex marriage
- Support funding for hospices which provide terminal or palliative care for adults, children and infants
- Maintain a well resourced military with a nuclear deterrent
- Support the doctrine of a ‘just war’, but not military adventurism
- Withdraw British troops from Afghanistan