The Early Years
The SNP’s journey began in 1934 when the Scottish Party and the National Party of Scotland merged to form what we now recognise as the Scottish National Party. The SNP was founded on a commitment to restore Scottish independence.
The SNP’s first parliamentary seat was secured in the Motherwell and Wishaw by-election in 1945, which saw Robert McIntyre winning over 50 per cent of the vote. The party’s next victory was in 1967, when Winnie Ewing stormed to success in a Hamilton by-election taking a huge swing of the vote from Scottish Labour. Her campaign slogan ‘Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on’, was inspirational to party activists and members.
In 1974 the SNP won 11 Westminster seats, with a share of the poll rising beyond 30%. This result brought the issue of Scotland’s self-government to the fore, however it wasn’t until 1997 when plans for a Scottish Parliament were endorsed in a referendum.
The first post-devolution elections
The new Scottish Parliament met for the first time on May 12th 1999, and was opened by Winnie Ewing MSP with the words ‘The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the 25th March 1707, is hereby re-convened’.
After 8 years of a Labour/Lib Dem government lacking in ambition and achievement, the electorate looked to the SNP to offer an alternative. The 2007 election saw a breakthrough for the SNP, when we emerged as the largest party in terms of both the popular vote and number of MSPs. With 47 MSPs compared to Labour’s 46, the SNP went on to form a minority administration and Alex Salmond was elected First Minister of Scotland.
The SNP continued to win elections during their first term of government, including a stunning by-election victory in Glasgow East in 2008 - one of Labour’s safest seats, and winning the largest share of the Scottish vote in the 2009 European Election.
The Scottish Parliamentary election of 2011 was a turning point in the history of Scottish politics and the Scottish Parliament. In a truly momentous election win, the SNP won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament with 69 seats - a feat made more significant by the fact that the electoral system was specifically designed to prevent any party gaining overall control of the parliament.
With a majority government, the SNP were able to legislate for an independence referendum, which took place on September 18th 2014. The referendum inspired an extraordinary level of enthusiasm and energy in Scotland, with many people getting involved and casting their vote for the very first time. The referendum also saw 16 and 17 year olds voting to have their say on Scotland’s future, and they were some of the most engaged and inspiring voices in the debate. The turnout of 84.5% set a new record for any election held in the UK since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1918.
Politics was transformed in Scotland by the referendum and in the immediate aftermath of the referendum the SNP saw a significant increase in membership. At 5pm on Thursday 18th September 2014, we had 25,642 members - a year on from that day our membership stood at 112,208.
The weeks following the referendum and surge in SNP membership also saw Nicola Sturgeon become the new SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland. She pledged to be the most accessible First Minister ever, going on a sell-out tour of Scotland, holding regular Facebook question and answer session with members of the public, and holding meetings of the Scottish Cabinet outside Edinburgh every two months.
With hundreds of thousands of new members and a strong team of MP candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds, the SNP entered the 2015 general election campaign in excellent spirits. With Nicola Sturgeon’s inclusion in televised debates in London as well as in Scotland, the SNP’s anti-austerity, progressive platform garnered support from across the border and beyond.
The SNP recorded an historic landslide general election victory in Scotland in May 2015. SNP MPs are making Scotland’s voice heard at Westminster and standing up for the progressive policies that we put at the heart of our campaign.
Our elected representatives at Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, European Parliament and local authorities across Scotland, have and will continue to work hard to build a more prosperous, fairer, more just Scotland.