The Scottish National Party (SNP) has played an integral role in Scottish politics for decades. As the party gears up for its annual conference, it’s important to understand its history, values, and goals for an independent Scotland.
A Brief History of the SNP
The SNP was formed in 1934 from the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party. Their founding principle was seeking independence for Scotland, which was then part of the United Kingdom.
Early Days and Gradual Growth
In the early days, the SNP was considered a fringe movement with little support. Their first MP, Robert McIntyre, was elected in 1945. Support grew slowly over the next few decades, until the discovery of North Sea oil in Scottish waters in the 1970s. This provided a boost to the economic argument for independence.
The Rise of the SNP
The SNP saw a surge in support in the 1970s under the leadership of Billy Wolfe. In 1974, they won 11 MPs and then broke through to win the Hamilton by-election in 1967. This demonstrated the SNP could win seats in their traditional Labour strongholds.
The SNP Today
The SNP is now the third biggest political party in the UK, with over 125,000 members. They have been the Scottish Government since 2007.
Nicola Sturgeon, Current Leader
Nicola Sturgeon took over as SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland in 2014. She has continued the push for Scottish independence and grown SNP support. Her approval ratings often exceed those of the Prime Minister.
48 Scottish Parliament Seats
The SNP dominates the Scottish Parliament, holding 48 of 129 seats. They have been the governing party in Scotland since 2007 under three First Ministers – Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, and John Swinney.
35 MPs in Westminster
The SNP broke through at Westminster in 2015, winning 56 of 59 Scottish seats. They lost some ground in 2017 but still hold 35 seats, making them the third largest party in the UK Parliament.
Key SNP Policies and Positions
The SNP’s overarching mission is Scottish independence. Their other key policies include:
Independence from the United Kingdom
The SNP’s main goal is for Scotland to become an independent country and leave the United Kingdom. They advocate for Scotland to have full control over its laws, taxes, and economic policy.
Progressive Left-Wing Policies
On most issues, the SNP positions themselves as a progressive, left-wing party. They support increased public spending, oppose nuclear weapons and war, and favor environmental protection.
European Union Membership
The SNP strongly opposes Brexit and wants an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU. Over 60% of Scottish voters rejected Brexit in 2016.
Immigration and Multiculturalism
Scotland faces demographic challenges with its aging population. The SNP supports increased immigration and cultural diversity as an economic and social positive.
Balanced Budgets and Deficits
The SNP favors prudent financial management while investing in public services and infrastructure. They opposed austerity policies and seek new powers to manage Scotland’s budget deficits.
What Does the Future Hold for the SNP?
The SNP’s short-term focus is opposing Brexit and pushing for a second Scottish independence referendum. In the longer term, they seek to convince Scots that full self-government will create a fairer, greener, and more prosperous country. With independence support of around 50%, their annual conference will discuss strategies to tip the balance. Regardless of referendum outcomes, the SNP looks set to remain Scotland’s dominant political force.
FAQs about the Scottish National Party
When was the SNP founded?
The SNP was founded in 1934 with the merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party.
How many MPs does the SNP have?
The SNP currently has 35 MPs in the UK Parliament at Westminster, making them the third largest party.
Who is the current leader of the SNP?
Nicola Sturgeon has been leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland since 2014. She succeeded Alex Salmond.
What percentage of Scottish voters support independence?
Current opinion polls show support for Scottish independence hovering around 50%, up from 30% in 2012.
What is the SNP’s stance on Brexit?
The SNP strongly opposes Brexit. They campaigned for Scotland to remain in the EU in 2016 and now push for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU.