ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Brief History of Scotland as the Scottish National Party Sweeps to Power

Updated on January 11, 2014
SNP logo
SNP logo

The Scottish National Party, commonly known as the SNP, has achieved a major victory at the polling booths in Scotland, to become the first political party to achieve an outright majority in the new Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. They can now form a government that has the right to govern without having to form a coalition with another party, as has happened in every single election since the new Scottish Parliament was set up at Holyrood in Edinburgh in 1999.

The 2011 voting results were as follows.

Out of 129 seats, the SNP now have 69, Labour 37, Conservative 15, Liberal Democrats 5, The Green Party 2 and Independent Margo MacDonald, an original SNP member who won a historic victory for the SNP by taking Glasgow Govan in 1973.

During their 4 year term of office, they have promised to hold a ballot for full independence from England and the rest of the UK.

Scotland's Political Map

The current political map of Scotland (right) compared to the previous one on the left. Yellow - SNP, Orange - Liberal Democrat, Blue - Conservative, Red - Labour.
The current political map of Scotland (right) compared to the previous one on the left. Yellow - SNP, Orange - Liberal Democrat, Blue - Conservative, Red - Labour.
The Union Flag with the red cross of St. George (England) with the blue and white cross of St. Andrew (Scotland)
The Union Flag with the red cross of St. George (England) with the blue and white cross of St. Andrew (Scotland)
Robert Burns
Robert Burns

The Act of Union 1707

Scotland was an independent nation up until The Act of Union, a treaty which was signed in 1707. From this date the previous Scottish and English parliaments were dissolved and a new British Parliament came into being, based 400 miles away in London.

The vast majority of the Scots were against it. They didn’t want to become yet another region of England, as Wales had become 400 years previously.

England desperately wanted an allegiance with Scotland because Scottish troops were fearsome warriors to have on your side, and there was great fear that Scotland could once again join with France (The Auld Alliance) and defeat England. France and England have an uncomfortable history.

Early one cold winter’s morning, in a poorly attended session of the Scottish Parliament, MPs voted FOR an alliance with England.

In the words the great poetRobert Burns“they were bought and sold for English gold”.

In those days, the MPs were titled landowners and the English threatened to shut the borders, effectively ruining Scottish trade in cattle and linen, as they had done 50 years before resulting in years of poverty. At that time, England had become powerful abroad and refused to allow Scots traders direct access to the New Colonies and trade routes.

It was in this period of history that many Scots left their homeland for a new life in America and other parts of the globe.

The Act of Union came into being on the 1st of May, 1707, and just one month later Scottish peers introduced a Bill into Parliament to have the Act repealed, but this was narrowly defeated and Scotland has been part of Britain every since.

Their consolation prize was keeping their own Legal and Education systems, Church, Royal Burghs and Courts, which continues to this day.

SNP leader Alex Salmond
SNP leader Alex Salmond

Birth of the SNP

Scottish people have never been entirely happy at the outcome, after a long history of fighting English troops to keep their own country intact.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) was first founded in 1934 following an amalgamation of the Scottish Party and the National Party of Scotland. They won their first parliamentary seat in 1945 in the Motherwell by-election, but lost that seat just three months later in the General Election.

Their next win was again in a by-election (by-elections normally pick up the ‘protest votes’) in 1967. This time long-serving member Winnie Ewing picked up the Hamilton seat.

In the General Election of 1974, the SNP won a third of the votes in Scotland, but under the ‘first past the post system’, this only returned them 11 seats, but put the SNP and the possibility of independence for Scotland firmly on the board.

It was around this time that oil was discovered in the North Sea, and the idea that is was actually Scotland’s oil gained momentum, and for the first time, the groundswell of opinion towards the possibility of being financially independent from England garnered support.

Devolution for Scotland

In 1997, to placate a growing call for democratic independence in Scotland, the Labour Party, then the dominant political party in Scotland, put the promise of Devolution for Scotland (and indeed Wales) in their manifesto. The Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher had been in power for 18 years and English Labour desperately needed the Scottish votes to have any chance of regaining power.

The Labour Party believed that devolution of powers would placate those calling for independence.

Labour won that election, and the Scotland Act 1998 was placed on the statute books as promised.

The Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood
The Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood

The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament officially opened on the 12th of May, 1999.

Its 129 members are elected by mixed member proportional representation, and it has the right to legislate over matters directly within Scotland, but it is still dependent on England especially for its allocation of money on which to balance the national budget.

In 2007, the SNP won the Scottish Elections for the first time, by a majority of 1. They tried to form a government with minority party the Liberal Democrats, but failed because the Lib Dems wouldn’t agree to independence.

As a result, the minority SNP government found that many Bills they placed on the table for the next 4 years were defeated.

2011 Scottish Elections

The 2011 elections have changed all that.

With a clear majority, the SNP has paved the way for Scotland to regain her National pride and a return to full independence.

SNP leader Alex Salmond surrounded by supporters
SNP leader Alex Salmond surrounded by supporters | Source


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      Thanks Ethel :) Exciting times in Scotland!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Good luck to Scotland. I think you have all made your choice and it is up to Central government to take note

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      Thanks Nan :) Its a momentous time for Scotland! Go Scotland!

    • profile image

      Nan Mynatt 

      7 years ago

      Excellent hub on Scotland, and I voted you up! My father was Scottish, and came to the South in the US. My mother's family was Irish and came from Ireland when there was a food shortage and they were poor. I am going to keep the hub to use in my classroom, when I teach world history.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)