What is the SNP?
The Scottish National Party is a political party formed to campaign for the restoration of full self-government – independence - for Scotland. It has developed a full and comprehensive range of policies on all topics which can be seen at the main SNP website at www.snp.org At present, the SNP is in power as the Government of the devolved Scottish Parliament and will hold a referendum on Independence on 18 September 2014. SNP members are working for the Yes Scotland campaign for Independence.
What is the history of the SNP and why was it founded?
The party was formed in 1934 after a merger between two other parties of similar aims. After a suspension of activity during the war years it was re-energised in 1950 by the daring ‘theft’ of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey by four young Scottish nationalists. This dramatic act of patriotism inspired many people in Scotland. When the Westminster government ignored a petition for ‘Home Rule’ signed by two million adult Scots, the party, which had won a seat in 1945 in Motherwell, began to win elections.
In 1967 Winnie Ewing made an historic breakthrough seizing the rock-solid Labour seat of Hamilton in a by-election and creating headlines around the world. Winnie’s famous declaration; “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on!” saw the party expanding rapidly with branches springing up all over the country.
The party has had continuous representation in Westminster since 1970 and it was the growing electoral success of the SNP which forced the Labour government to introduce a scheme of limited devolution for Scotland. Labour finally brought forward this proposal in a Referendum in 1979 but failed to unite behind it and many prominent Labour politicians supported the well-funded No campaign. The disastrous 40% rule was forced upon the legislation by a Labour back-bencher and it meant that deceased people who were still listed on the voters’ roll effectively counted as No votes. Despite these handicaps, the Yes campaign won the Referendum but Mrs Thatcher’s incoming government was quick to stamp out any idea of devolution.
Devolution was originally intended by Labour to thwart the SNP and prevent progress to full self-government so when Labour came back into power in 1997 they brought forward a Devolution Bill and a Scottish Parliament was finally set-up in 1999. The new voting system of the Parliament, the Additional Member system, was specifically designed to ensure that no one party should ever have overall control, therefore stopping the SNP from ever winning power. This worked for the first two terms, when Labour-Lib Dem Coalitions formed Administrations. In 2007, however, a minority SNP Administration led by Alex Salmond took power in 2007.
In 2007 at the local government elections, the SNP for the first time had more local councillors elected in Scotland than any other party and in June 2009, the party gained more votes than all other parties in the Euro Elections. In an attempt to head off the increasing popularity of the SNP, the other parties produced the Calman Commission in 2008 to consider further constitutional change.
Then came the Scottish elections of May 2011 when the SNP Government led by Alex Salmond secured an unprecedently emphatic victory gaining 69 of the 129 seats, winning 53 of the 73 constituency seats. The victory was so comprehensive that it has allowed for the first ever time the formation of a Scottish Government with a majority over all the other parties.
The system was explicitly devised by the UK Labour Government in the late 1990s to prevent the SNP ever gaining a majority at Holyrood! As fallout from the election result all three of the main opposition party leaders subsequently resigned from their leadership posts.
In May 2012, the SNP achieved further success in the local government elections, taking over half a million first-preference vote to emerge as the largest party in terms of vote share (32.32%) and number of councillors elected (424, an increase of 61). The SNP took control of Dundee and Angus Councils with overall majorities enabling them to form administrations. The party gained an additional three councillors in Dundee since the 2007 elections so that it now holds 16 of the 29 Dundee council seats.
The party formed minority administrations in Clackmannanshire, North Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross and is involved in coalition administrations in eight more: Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Highland, Midlothian and Scottish Borders Councils.
The Calman proposals now known as the Scotland Act, 2012, which received royal assent on 1 May 2012, will make minor changes to the finances of the Scottish Parliament, including a new Scottish rate of income tax, and make a number of minor adjustments to the boundary of devolved responsibilities; too little too late to attract much — or any — attention as the public debate has already gone far beyond the limited scope of Calman’s proposals.
Alex Salmond was present at the historic launch of the Yes Scotland campaign on 25 May 2012 in Edinburgh alongside Patrick Harvie MSP, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Hollywood A-list actor Brian Cox, Carnoustie-born Broadway star Alan Cumming, former Labour MP and MSP Dennis Canavan, former union leader Tommy Brennan, singer Dougie MacLean, Scotland’s national poet and ‘Makar’ Liz Lochhead all of whom formally signed the Yes Declaration:
“I believe it is fundamentally better for us all if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland. Being independent means Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.
“There is no doubt that Scotland has great potential. We are blessed with talent, resources and creativity. We have the opportunity to make our nation a better place to live, for this and future generations. We can build a greener, fairer and more prosperous society that is stronger and more successful that it is today.
“I want a Scotland that speaks with her own voice and makes her own unique contribution to the world: A Scotland that stands alongside the other nations on these isles, as an independendent nation.”
We are actively engaging with the public to promote this declaration as ask all, whether SNP supporters or not, of all parties and none, to sign it and to play an active part in the Yes Scotland campaign.
The Declaration can be signed online at www.yesscotland.net or write to: Yes Scotland, 136 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 2TG.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Cameron in an attempt to deflate the Independence campaign have made vague hints that the might introduce new powers for the Scottish Parliament if the Scots vote ‘no’ although he has thus far refused to spell out what these might be and it has been widely seen as simply a tactic to regain ground from the SNP. Labour politicians have also made vague commitments to ‘more powers’ although asserting that these are as yet only proposals and suggestions.
Students of Scottish history will be aware that Sir Alec Douglas-Home, a Tory grandee, proposed an exactly similar ‘offer’ on prime-time TV at a critical point during the 1979 Referendum campaign. He invited Scots to vote No on the grounds that the Tory Government would introduce a better scheme of devolution than Labour. Mrs Thatcher was quick to renege on this pledge once in office and Alec Douglas-Home subsequently made no further mention of it.
History apart, in the current Referendum campaign opinion polls show most Scots favour either independence, full fiscal autonomy or more powers including tax powers so it is therefore now no longer a question of ‘if’ there will be further constitutional powers for Scotland but ‘when’ and ‘how much’.
In the words of the famous Irish nationalist politician Charles Stewart Parnell, “no man has a right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation… to say to his country ‘Thus far shalt thou go and no further!”
The Referendum question is: Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No.
How can I get involved?
You’d be made very welcome! The SNP is active in Dundee, with ongoing political campaigns and regular social events. To join or to find out more, contact us at Dundee SNP, 8 Old Glamis Road, Dundee DD3 8HP, tel: 01382 903210, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org