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INTRODUCTION

The SNP is a democratic left-of-centre political party committed to Scottish independence. It aims to create a just, caring and enterprising society in the mainstream of modern Europe by releasing Scotland's full potential as an independent nation.

The party has been at the forefront of the campaign for Scottish self-determination for almost seventy years. The evolution of the SNP has been paralleled by the political evolution of Scotland herself - from an almost totally unionist country to a nation on the brink of independence.

THE EARLY YEARS

The Party's somewhat confusing origins can be traced back to several organisations advocating Home Rule in the 1920s and 30s. In 1928 The Scots National League (formed in 1921) and the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association (formed by John MacCormick in 1927) both combined with poet Lewis Spence's Scottish National Movement to form the National Party of Scotland.

The NPS can be seen as the most direct forerunner of the SNP as it shared the same left of centre, civic outlook as the modern party and the same commitment to independence. Many of its members were also involved in the literary and artistic renaissance that took place in Scotland in the 1920s. The first nationalist to stand for election was Lewis Spence, who contested Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern in 1929. He won 4.5% of the vote and came fourth.

By 1934 the National Party had amalgamated with the smaller, more right wing Scottish Party to form the Scottish National Party. It was not a painless merger. However, by 1942 many of the right wingers from the Scottish Party had left but the name of the party remained. (The Scottish National Party was not commonly abbreviated to the SNP until the 1960s.)

By the 1930s and 40s nationalist activities extended to civil disobedience as well as fighting elections. During the Second World War, Arthur Donaldson (who went on to lead the party in the 1960s) and several other nationalist activists were imprisoned for their pacifist stance, although many in the party were strongly opposed to their actions. The most popular activity, however, was removing Union flags from as many public buildings as possible and replacing them with Saltires - which still constitutes a rite of passage for many young SNP activists today.


ELECTORAL SUCCESS

In 1945 the party scored its first electoral triumph when Dr Robert McIntyre was elected with 51.4% of the vote in a straight fight against the Labour Party at a by-election in Motherwell. Labour regained the seat shortly afterwards, at the General Election, in a multi-party contest: it was to be twenty-one years before the next SNP MP was elected.

Nevertheless, nationalist sentiment throughout Scotland was growing. On Christmas Day in 1950 the Stone of Destiny was taken from Westminster Abbey and returned to Scotland by four Glasgow University students. They were led by Ian Hamilton - who stood as an SNP candidate in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 1999, some 49 years on!

Three years later, in 1953, the same Ian Hamilton, together with John MacCormick, was involved in challenging the legal right of the new Queen Elizabeth to style herself Elizabeth the Second in Scotland - where she was, in fact, Elizabeth the First. They lost the court case but won the argument, along with a great deal of popular support. They also achieved an important moral victory when the Court of Session stated that "the principle of limited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law."

In 1962 the party took a vital step forwards thanks to Angus McGillveray, who started the Alba Pools, a fundraising scheme which raised 200,000 in five years. The importance of this cannot be underestimated as the SNP then (as now) received no money from big business or trade unions but relied totally on its membership for funds.

The 1960s also saw the birth of Radio Free Scotland; a pirate station which broadcast the nationalist message through the TV set in the evening after the national anthem. One of the leading players in Radio Free Scotland was Gordon Wilson, who went on to lead the SNP from 1979 to 1990.


VICTORIES

As membership rose through the 1960s, the party extended its base of support. In 1966 the SNP fought its largest ever number of seats at a General Election and won 14.3% of the vote.

However, the first real electoral breakthrough came in November 1967 when Winnie Ewing won a famous victory at the Hamilton by-election. The seat was lost again in 1970 at the General Election but, during her years in the Westminster Parliament, Winnie had an electrifying effect on Scottish politics. (She was subsequently MP for Moray and Nairn between 1974 - 79 and then represented the Highlands and Islands constituency in the European Parliament - where she became known as Madame Ecosse - for over twenty years, before being elected to the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands region in 1999.)

The SNP went on to win 30% of the vote at the municipal elections in 1968 and, in the 1970 General Election, fielded a record 65 candidates, polling 11.4% of the overall vote. Although losing Hamilton, the Party scored a significant victory when Donald Stewart was elected MP for the Western Isles, becoming the first SNP MP elected at a General Election. (He held the seat until his retirement in 1987.) This was followed, in November 1973, by another sensational by-election victory when Margo MacDonald took Glasgow Govan, with a huge swing from Labour.


IT'S SCOTLAND'S OIL

During the 1970s the SNP launched one of its most influential campaigns - It's Scotland's Oil. The perception that the Scottish people were being excluded from the economic benefits generated by the discovery of oil and gas in the North Sea transformed Scottish politics and gave the SNP a major boost in both membership and votes. The campaign strengthened the economic arguments in favour of independence and underscored the need for Scotland to control her own resources. This has been an important theme running through Scottish politics ever since.

The General Elections in 1974 were a breakthrough for the SNP - with 7 MPs elected in February and 11 MPs elected in October (when the SNP won a record share of 30.4% of the vote.) Buoyed by their electoral success, the SNP succeeded in forcing the pace of the political debate and the Labour government was compelled by public opinion to legislate for Scottish devolution.


1979 AND THE EARLY EIGHTIES

In March 1979 a referendum on the Scotland Act took place, under the burden of the notorious 40% rule. George Cunningham, then a Labour (later an SDP) MP, was responsible for this rule. It meant that devolution could not be passed by a simple majority but required the support of 40% of the electorate. This resulted in a situation where people who wouldn't or couldn't vote (including the dead) were effectively counted as No voters. The Yes campaign won a majority of 77,435 but, as only 32.9% of the electorate voted Yes, this wasn't enough to clear the 40% hurdle. When the Conservatives won the ensuing General Election most commentators believed that the issue of Home Rule for Scotland was dead.

The 1979 election was a setback for the SNP. After the crushing disappointment and disillusionment of the referendum result, the SNP retained only 2 MPs - Donald Stewart and Gordon Wilson.

In the 1983 General Election the Party failed to gain any new seats and their share of the vote fell to only 11.7%. In the 1987 General Election Party Leader Gordon Wilson lost his seat and, with Donald Stewart's retirement, the Western Isles was lost too.

However, these disappointments were offset by victories elsewhere as Alex Salmond won Banff and Buchan, Margaret Ewing took Moray and Andrew Welsh took Angus East. These seats were the first SNP gains since 1974. The SNP holds them still.

Winnie Ewing's remarkable achievement in winning and keeping the Highlands and Islands seat in the European Parliament, with ever-increasing majorities, also provided a glimmer of light. However, it would be true to say that the early to mid 1980s were a difficult time for the party.


THE DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT

It was not only the SNP who found this period difficult. The imposition of Tory policies by a government who had not been elected by the Scottish people was widely seen as constituting a democratic deficit, which had to be addressed.

Towards the end of the decade the party underwent a revival, gaining 20% of the vote at the District Council elections in 1988. The same year the Party Conference passed a number of important policy decisions, committing themselves to the use of civil disobedience to defy the poll tax and endorsing the policy of Independence in Europe.

The following November the party scored an electrifying victory when Jim Sillars, formerly a Labour MP and vigorous opponent of independence, won the Glasgow Govan by-election, overturning a Labour majority of 19,000 and re-igniting the Scottish constitutional debate.

As the decade drew to a close the SNP continued to make electoral progress, both in the 1989 European elections and the 1990 Regional elections. There were three by-elections fought during 1989 -1990 (Glasgow Central, Paisley North and Paisley South) and in all three the SNP came a strong second.

In 1990 Gordon Wilson stood down as Leader and the Party chose as his successor Alex Salmond, an economist by profession, who proved as effective at arguing the economic case for independence as he is at arguing the constitutional case.

It was at this time that the party boosted its parliamentary representation to five with the defection of Dick Douglas, the Labour MP for Dunfermline West, who had become sickened by his party's supine acceptance of the poll tax and nuclear dumping in Scotland.

November 1991 saw the SNP contest yet another by-election, this time in the Tory-held constituency of Kincardine and Deeside. The party managed both to increase its share of the vote and beat Labour but it was the Liberal Democrats who won the seat - reducing Conservative representation to nine MPs out of seventy-two in the country they governed.


THE 1992 ELECTION

The run-up to the 1992 General Election in Scotland saw a period of intense debate about Scotland's constitutional future. Rising levels of support for the SNP, coupled with concern about the democratic deficit at the heart of Scottish government raised "The Scottish Question" yet again to the top of the political agenda. The SNP had a good campaign. Alex Salmond was widely acknowledged as the most effective of the party leaders and an ICM opinion poll showed support for independence running at 50% for the first time.

In the event, the SNP increased its share of the vote by half to 21.5% - the best performance since 1974. Unfortunately, this increased share of the national vote did not translate into increased seats because of the first-past-the-post system used at Westminster elections. (At this election, on average, it took 23,324 votes to elect a Labour MP; 42,651 votes to elect a Liberal Democrat; 68,359 to elect a Conservative - and 209,851 votes to elect a Scottish National Party MP!)

The SNP also lost the Glasgow Govan seat to Labour. However, Labour's glee at their electoral triumphs in Scotland soon faded as they watched the Tories sweep to power in Britain - again.

At the end of 1992 a European Summit was held in Edinburgh to mark Britain's Presidency of the EU. Nothing could have so clearly illustrated Scotland's status as a nation without a voice and a remarkable 25,000 people demonstrated, demanding that the Scottish Parliament be recalled. Clearly, "The Scottish Question" was far from settled.


SCOTLAND'S SECOND PARTY

In 1994 the SNP continued to increase its share of the vote - to 26% in the Regional elections and 32.6% in the European Parliamentary elections (less than 10% behind Labour).

The premature death of Labour leader John Smith resulted in another by-election in his Monklands East constituency - which was, in theory, a safe Labour seat. In fact, the by-election was fought as a marginal and the SNP candidate, Kay Ullrich, took the party's share of the vote from 18% to 44.9%, while Labour's share fell from 61.3% to 49.8%.

In the Unitary Authority elections of 1995 the SNP again won more than 25% of the vote and took control of Angus, Moray and Perth & Kinross Councils. These results were further evidence that the SNP had emerged as Scotland's second party - capable of pushing Labour hard, even in its heartland, and offering a viable alternative to the electorate right across Scotland.

The final electoral indicator before the 1997 General Election came in the Perth and Kinross by-election in 1995, when the SNP's Roseanna Cunningham won with 40.4% of the vote.

This time the party held the seat at the following General Election.


THE 1997 ELECTION

The 1997 General Election saw the end of Tory dominance at Westminster and the first Labour government since the 1970s.

In Scotland the Tories were quite simply wiped out. However, Labour's Scottish victory was far from overwhelming. Despite the swing to Labour, the SNP still managed to increase its share of the vote, hold all its seats and gain two new ones - John Swinney in North Tayside and Alasdair Morgan in Galloway & Upper Nithsdale. The party's share of the vote (22.1%) was the best General Election result since October 1974 - and this time it was based on a solid bedrock of support for independence.

Although still labouring under the disadvantage of the first-past-the-post system, the SNP managed to come second in 42 seats, continuing to push Labour in its heartland and driving forward the demand for constitutional change.


YES YES !

This demand soon forced Labour to deliver on their promise to legislate for devolution early in the new parliament and a referendum on the proposals for a Scottish Parliament, and whether it should have tax-varying powers, was held in September 1997.

The Referendum Campaign saw an unprecedented level of co-operation between the three main parties campaigning for a Yes Yes vote, which many hailed as evidence that the new Scottish politics could, and should, break the adversarial Westminster mould.

The result of the referendum can be seen as reflecting this consensus with an overwhelming endorsement of the Yes Yes campaign. On a turnout of over 60%, 74.3% of Scots voted Yes to a Scottish Parliament and 63.5% voted Yes to tax varying powers. Following this endorsement the parties began to prepare for the Scottish Parliamentary elections, which were set for May 1999.


A TWO HORSE RACE?

However, before the elections for the Scottish Parliament took place the SNP suffered a tragic loss with the death of Deputy Leader and North East MEP Allan Macartney. In the resulting by-election in November 1998, the SNP candidate Ian Hudghton won the seat with an increased majority, taking over 48% of the vote. Astonishingly, the Conservatives managed to win second place, leaving Labour to slip in behind them - third in a two-horse race.

Senior Labour politicians had predicted that devolution would "kill off" the SNP and Labour party strategists were confident that they could arrange this. However, as the results of the Scottish elections were to show, their confidence was misplaced.


THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS


The elections to the Scottish Parliament were fought under different rules, which introduced an element of proportionality into the electoral system. The Scottish Parliament is composed of 129 MPs, 73 of whom are elected on a constituency basis using the first-past-the-post system and 56 of whom are elected as regional additional members, using a system of proportional representation. This meant that, for the first time, the SNP could expect that their share of the vote would be translated into actual seats.

Any hopes people may have nurtured that the new Scottish politics would be more consensual and less confrontational than the Westminster model were shattered by the ensuing campaign. The SNP faced an unprecedented onslaught, not only from their unionist opponents but also from the unionist-owned Scottish media. Under-funded, under-staffed and under-resourced, the SNP fought a hard campaign. As always, the party depended primarily on its own grassroots members to drive the SNP campaign forward.

The result was thirty-five SNP members of the Scottish Parliament, seven elected on the first-past-the-post constituency vote and the remainder elected as additional members. In the first (constituency, first past the post) ballot, the SNP increased its share of the vote in sixty five constituencies, drastically reducing Labour majorities and significantly increasing support in what used to be regarded as the party's weakest areas. In the second (regional, additional member) ballot, the party emerged as clear winners in two of the eight electoral regions and slashed Labour majorities in the rest.

It was not only in the elections to the Scottish Parliament that the SNP managed to further narrow the gap with Labour. In the Local Authority elections, held on the same day, the SNP polled 29.2% of the total vote, improving its share of the vote and returning 204 councillors. The SNP now controls two council administrations (Angus and Clackmannanshire); shares power in two others (Dumfries & Galloway and Argyll & Bute) and forms the major opposition group in most others. And at the European elections that followed, in June of 1999, the SNP secured 27.2% of the total vote and is represented in the European Parliament by Ian Hudghton MEP and Professor Neil MacCormick MEP.

Further evidence of the SNP resurgence came with the Hamilton South by-election which was held in September 1999, following the resignation of the sitting Labour Westminster MP George Robertson. Labour called the by-election early, while the Westminster Parliament was in recess, to take place during the SNP Annual Conference. This was widely regarded as a sign of panic - borne out by the result, as Labour's majority of 15,878 was reduced to only 556 after a recount. This represented a 22.6% swing from Labour in what had previously been their fifth safest seat in Scotland, demonstrating that there is no such thing as a safe Labour seat anywhere in Scotland and no "no-go" areas for the SNP.


SCOTLAND'S PARTY

When the Scottish Parliament met for the first time on the 12th May 1999, it was given to Winnie Ewing, as the oldest member present, to open the proceedings. She did so with the words:

"The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the 25th March 1707, is hereby re-convened."

The attitude of the Scottish National Party to the Parliament is quite clear. The role of the SNP group is to stand up for the rights and authority of the Parliament and hold the Executive to account on behalf of the people.

The Scottish people have invested a lot in their Parliament but there is a growing realisation that it has limited powers and, in key areas, is totally subservient to Westminster. It is the job of the SNP to argue the case for completing the powers of the Scottish Parliament and returning Scotland to the normal status of an independent country, with a direct voice in Europe and the international community, and the power to tackle Scotland's social and economic problems by making Scotland's wealth work for Scotland's people.


THE SETTLED WILL OF THE SCOTTISH PEOPLE?

The first unscheduled test of electoral opinion since the Scottish Parliament elections came with the Ayr by-election on 16th March 2000, which was brought about by the resignation of the sitting Labour MSP. The seat was won by the Conservatives; the SNP came a strong second, in this traditionally Conservative seat, with 29% of the vote. Labour came third with only 22%. This represents a 21.4% swing to the SNP.

The first anniversary of the Scottish Parliament saw the SNP again drawing ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. Significantly, a majority of Scots wanted more constitutional change, not less, and did not believe that devolution represented the "settled will" of the Scottish people.


A NEW LEADER

In July 2000 Alex Salmond announced that he was standing down as leader of the Scottish National Party. During his ten years as National Convener, Alex played a crucial role in broadening the support for independence in Scotland and underscoring the inclusive nature of Scottish nationalism. This was a theme taken up by his successor, John Swinney, in his victory speech to the SNP Annual Conference in September 2000, when he spoke about his vision of "a just, caring and enterprising Scotland where everyone has a chance to get on in the world, regardless of where they have come from."

In October 2000 the whole community of Scotland was shocked by the sudden death of Donald Dewar, First Minister of Scotland's first ever democratically elected parliament. In the ensuing by-elections (Donald Dewar had represented the Anniesland constituency at both Westminster and Holyrood) the SNP made clear progress, albeit in circumstances that no-one would have wished for.

This was followed in December by another Westminster parliamentary by-election, brought about by the resignation of Dennis Canavan as MP for Falkirk West. (Dennis Canavan had been elected as a Labour MP in 1997 but was not deemed fit to join the New Labour group in the Scottish Parliament. He therefore stood as an independent in the 1999 elections, won convincingly, and continues to represent the people of Falkirk West in Holyrood.) The very close result showed the SNP again surging ahead with a 16.2% swing.


WE STAND FOR SCOTLAND

The UK General Election, held in June 2001, saw Labour returned to power at Westminster with a majority of 165 after a lacklustre election campaign fought under the discredited first-past-the-post system, in which the result was widely perceived as a foregone conclusion. (There were two Scottish Parliament by-elections held on the same day, brought about by the resignations of Alex Salmond, to concentrate on defending Scotland's interests at Westminster, and Sam Galbraith. The SNP's Stewart Stevenson held Banff & Buchan comfortably, while Labour held Strathkelvin & Bearsden.)

The exceptionally low turnout of 58.1% - the lowest since 1918 - reflected the level of voter apathy and disillusionment with Westminster politics. Nevertheless, the SNP managed to run a strong campaign in Scotland and succeeded in retaining its position as Scotland's second party and holding on to five of its six Westminster seats, as well as placing fiscal autonomy for the Scottish Parliament at the top of the Scottish political agenda.

Opinion polls demonstrate that a majority of Scots agree with the SNP that Scotland's Parliament should control Scotland's money. The SNP will continue to pursue every parliamentary avenue from now until the next Scottish Parliament elections in 2003 to keep fiscal freedom and protecting Scotland's public services to the forefront of the political debate. It is beyond doubt that the battle for political leadership in Scotland is between the SNP and New Labour and it is a battle the SNP intends to win


SNP VOTE IN CONTESTED SEATS AT UK GENERAL ELECTIONS 1945-2001

(National Share in Brackets)

1945 7.6% (1.2%)

1950 7.4% (0.4%)

1951 2.2% (0.3%)

1955 14.5% (0.5%)

1959 10.7% (0.8%)

1964 10.9% (2.4%)

1966 14.3% (5.0%)

1970 12.2% (11.4%)

1974 (Feb) 22.1% (21.9%)

1974 (Oct) 30.4% (30.4%)

1979 (17.3%)

1983 (11.8%)

1987* 14.1% (14.0%)

1992 (21.5%)

1997 (22.1%)

2001 (20.06%)

* In 1987 the SNP did not contest the Orkney and Shetland seat as a result of an electoral pact with The Orkney and Shetland Movement.


SNP VOTE IN EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 1979 - 1999


1979 19.4%

1984 17.4%

1989 25.6%

1994 32.6%

1999 27.2%


SNP VOTE IN LOCAL AUTHORITY ELECTIONS 1974 - 1999

1974 12.4%

1974 12.6%

1977 24.1%

1978 20.9%

1980 15.5%

1982 13.4%

1984 11.7%

1986 18.2%

1988 21.1%

1990 21.8%

1992 24.3%

1994 26.7%

1995 26.3%

1999 29.2%


REFERENDUM RESULT (1979) REFERENDUM RESULT (1997)


YES 51.6% YES to Scottish Parliament 74.3%

NO 48.4% YES to tax-varying powers 63.5%


NO to Scottish Parliament 25.7%

NO to tax-varying powers 26.5%



SNP VOTE IN SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS 1999

First Ballot (Constituency Vote) Second Ballot (Regional Vote)

28.7% 27.3%


KEY DATES


1707 Treaty of Union.

1885 Secretaryship of Scotland established with responsibilities for Education, Health, Poor Law, Local Government, Fisheries, Police, Prisons, Roads and Public Works.

1926 Scottish Secretary becomes full Secretary of State.

1934 Scottish National Party formed.

1939 Scottish departments (Agriculture, Education, Fisheries, Health, Prisons) vested directly in Secretary of State. St Andrews House in Edinburgh opened.

1945 Motherwell by-election. SNP win seat with 51.4% of the vote.

1954 Electricity transferred to the Scottish Office.

1955 Food, Animal Health and Appointment of JPs given to Scottish Office.

1956 Roads and Bridges transferred to Scottish Office.

1961 Bridgeton by-election. SNP win 18.7% of the vote.

1965 Highlands and Islands Development Board founded.

1966 Plaid Cymru win Carmarthen By-election.

1967 Pollok by-election. SNP win 28.2% of the vote.

Hamilton by-election. SNP win seat with 46.1% of the vote.

1968 Major SNP gains in local elections. SNP win 37.2% of the vote in Glasgow.

Declaration of Perth - Edward Heath announces the establishment of Douglas-Home Committee.

1969 Gorbals by-election. SNP win 25% of the vote.

1970 Ayrshire South by-election. SNP win 20.4% of the vote. Jim Sillars wins the seat for Labour.

General Election. SNP contest 65 seats out of 71 and wins 11.4% of the vote. Lose Hamilton but gain the Western Isles.

Douglas-Home Committee reports, recommending elected Scottish Assembly.

1971 Stirling, Falkirk & Grangemouth by-election. SNP win 34.6% of the vote.

1973 Dundee East by-election. SNP win 30.2% of the vote.

Brandon Commission publishes report - recommends legislative devolution.

Govan by-election. SNP wins seat with 41.9% of the vote.

Edinburgh North by-election. SNP win 18.9% of the vote.

1974 February General Election. SNP contest 70 seats, win 21.9% of the vote. Although losing Govan, SNP win seven other seats.

Queen's Speech commits Government to act on Kilbrandon Report.

White Paper "Devolution within the UK" published.

Labour Scottish Executive rejects devolution decision.

1974 October General Election. SNP win 30.4% of the vote and take eleven seats.

1975 Scottish Development Agency (SDA) founded.

Industry powers transferred to Scottish Office.

Devolution White Paper "Our Changing Democracy" published.

1976 Scotland and Wales Bill published. Bill given second reading in December by 292 votes to 247 but only after Government conceded Referendums once Bill is enacted.

1977 Motion to guillotine proceedings on Scotland and Wales Bill defeated by 312 votes to 283. Bill falls.

Manpower Services transfers to Scottish Office.

Devolution - Financing the Devolved Services" published.

Scottish Bill published, given Second Reading and reaches Committee stage.

1978 40% rule inserted into Bill by 168 votes to 142.

Canavan amendment to remove 40% rule defeated by 298 - 248.

Bill given Third Reading.

Bill given Royal Assent on 31 July. Date of Referendum announced in November.

By-elections held in Glasgow Garscadden, Hamilton and Berwick & East Lothian. SNP win 32.9% in Garscadden, 33.5% in Hamilton and 8.8% in Berwick & East Lothian.

1979 Devolution Referendum held.

Government defeated in motion of no confidence.

Commons pass Repeal Order for Scotland Act by 301 to 206 votes.
General Election. Conservatives come to power.

1980 Glasgow Central by-election. SNP win 26.3% of the vote.

1982 By-elections held in Glasgow Hillhead, Coatbridge & Airdrie and Glasgow Queen's Park. SNP win 11.3% of vote in Hillhead (won by the Alliance), 10.5% of the vote in Coatbridge & Airdrie (held by Labour) and 20% in Queen's Park (also held by Labour.)

1983 General Election. Conservatives returned to power.

1987 General Election. Conservatives again returned to power, with only ten seats and 24% of the vote in Scotland.

1988 Claim of Right for Scotland published.

Govan by-election. SNP wins with 48.4% of the vote and a 33% swing from Labour.

1989 Scottish Constitutional Convention established.
Poll Tax comes into force in April.

Glasgow Central by-election. SNP wins 30.2% of the vote.
European Elections. SNP win 25.6% of the vote.

1990 Paisley North and South by-elections. SNP win 29.4% in North and 27.5% in South.

1991 Kincardine and Deeside by-election. SNP win 11.1%, Conservatives reduced to nine Scottish seats.

1992 General Election. Conservatives returned to power with eleven seats and 25.7% of the vote in Scotland.

European Summit in December - 25,000 people march in Edinburgh to demand the recall of the Scottish Parliament.

1994 SNP celebrate sixtieth anniversary in April.
Regional Council elections. SNP win 26.7% of the vote and 73 seats, making us the second largest party.

European elections. SNP win highest ever share of the vote with 32.6%, hold the Highlands and Islands and gain North East Scotland from Labour.

Monklands East by-election. SNP win 44.9% of the vote, narrowly missing out on taking Labour's sixth safest seat in Scotland.

1995 Unitary Authority elections. SNP win 26.3% of the vote and 181 seats, taking control of the new Moray, Angus and Perth & Kinross local authorities and confirming the SNP's place as the second largest party.

Perth & Kinross by-election. SNP win seat with 40.4% of the vote and an 11.5% swing from the Conservatives.

Scottish Constitutional Convention publishes its proposals for devolution "Scotland's Parliament, Scotland's Right".

1996 The Stone of Destiny returns to Scotland to rest in Edinburgh with the Scottish Crown Jewels.

Independence is confirmed as the most popular option for young people.

1997 Labour returned to power in UK General Election. Tories wiped off the face of the political map in Scotland.

SNP increase share of vote to 22.1%, gain two new seats in Galloway & Upper Nithsdale and North Tayside.

September Referendum on Scottish Parliament - SNP, Labour and LibDems campaign together for Yes-Yes vote. Electorate give overwhelming endorsement. Election set for May 1999

1998 Death of Dr Allan Macartney MEP. SNP retain North East Euro seat with increased share of vote, Labour beaten into third place by Tories.

1999 Scottish Parliament elections - SNP win 28.7% of vote in first ballot, 27.3% in second ballot, returning thirty five MSPs. Increase share of the vote and cut into Labour's majorities. Local authority elections also see increased share of vote.

Hamilton by-election in September 1999. SNP reduce Labour's majority from 16,000 to less than 600, in what was Labour's fifth safest seat in Scotland.

2000 Ayr by-election in March. Labour lose seat to the Tories, SNP achieve 21.4% swing. Glasgow Anniesland by-election in November, caused by death of First Minister Donald Dewar sees SNP make clear progress. This is followed in December by another by-election in Falkirk West following Dennis Canavan's resignation as Westminster MP. SNP achieved 16.2% swing from Labour while Labour, Tory and Lib Dem support falls.

2001 UK General Election in June after dull campaign. Voter apathy much in evidence with lowest turnout since 1918 (before women gained the vote). Labour victorious in Scotland although only one in four Scottish electors

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