National Party of Scotland

The National Party of Scotland (NPS) was a centre-left political party in Scotland which was one of the predecessors of the current Scottish National Party (SNP). The NPS was the first Scottish nationalist political party, and the first which campaigned for Scottish self-determination.

National Party of Scotland
Founded23 June 1928
Dissolved7 April 1934
Merged intoScottish National Party
IdeologyScottish nationalism
Scottish independence

The National Party of Scotland was founded in 1928 by the amalgamation of the Scots National League (SNL), the Scottish National Movement (SNM) and the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association (GUSNA). The NPS emerged from the consensus among members of these groups, and the Scottish Home Rule Association, that an independent political party, free of any connections to any existing parties, was the best way forward for achieving Scottish Home Rule.

The NPS contested the 1929 and 1931 United Kingdom general elections, and a number of by-elections. In 1934 the NPS merged with the Scottish Party to form the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Origins and history

The NPS was formed in 1928 after John MacCormick of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association called a meeting of all those favouring the establishment of a party favouring Scottish Home Rule. The meeting was presided over by Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, who had been a Liberal Party, then Scottish Labour Party politician. The NPS was formed by the amalgamation of GUSNA with the Scots National League, Lewis Spence's Scots National Movement and the Scottish Home Rule Movement.[1] On 23 June an inauguration took place in Stirling.[2]

The NPS was a left-of-centre party. The celebrated poet, Hugh MacDiarmid was a member, but was expelled on account of his communist views (ironically, he would later be expelled from the Communist Party of Great Britain for his Scottish Nationalist beliefs). Other figures besides MacDiarmid were involved. Eric Linklater stood as an NPS candidate in the 1933 East Fife by-election, and Neil Gunn played a role in aiding the NPS amalgamation with the Scottish Party.


In 1932 a home rule organisation, the Scottish Party, was formed by former members of the then Unionist Party, precursor of the modern Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. MacCormick desired unity amongst the Scottish Nationalist movement and made contact with the Scottish Party. Increasingly the two parties began to co-operate, and when the Scottish Party chose to contest the Kilmarnock by-election in November 1933 the NPS endorsed their candidate. In 1934 the NPS and Scottish Party merged to form the Scottish National Party.[3]

Leaders of the National Party of Scotland

Electoral performance

Lewis Spence was the first nationalist to stand for election. He contested Midlothian and Peebles Northern at a by-election in 1929 and came fourth, with 4.5% of the vote.[5]

Westminster Elections Candidates standingSeats wonVotes % Scottish voteSaved deposits
1929 General Election203,3130.50
1931 General Election5020,9541.03

The NPS contested many elections in its short existence but never managed to get any of its candidates elected to parliament.

By-elections, 1929

By-electionCandidateVotes %Position
1929 Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-electionLewis Spence8424.54

1929 general election

ConstituencyCandidateVotes %Position
Glasgow CamlachieJohn MacCormick1,6464.93
West RenfrewshireRoland Muirhead1,6675.44

By-elections, 1929-1931

By-electionCandidateVotes %Position
1930 Glasgow Shettleston by-electionJohn McNicol2,52710.13
1930 East Renfrewshire by-electionOliver Brown4,81813.13
1931 Glasgow St Rollox by-electionElma Campbell3,52115.83

1931 general election

ConstituencyCandidateVotes %Position
East RenfrewshireOliver Brown6,49813.93
Edinburgh EastT. T. Alexander2,8729.43
Glasgow St RolloxElma Campbell3,52113.33
InvernessJohn MacCormick4,01614.03
West RenfrewshireRoland Muirhead3,54711.03

By-elections, 1931-1933

By-electionCandidateVotes %Position
1932 Dunbartonshire by-electionRobert Gray5,17813.43
1932 Montrose Burghs by-electionDouglas Emslie1,96611.73
1933 East Fife by-electionEric Linklater1,0833.65

Further reading

  • Brand, Jack, The National Movement in Scotland, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978
  • Brand, Jack, ‘Scotland’, in Watson, Michael (ed.), Contemporary Minority Nationalism, Routledge, 1990
  • Richard J. Finlay, Independent and Free: Scottish Politics and the Origins of the Scottish National Party 1918-1945, John Donald Publishers, 1994
  • Hanham, H.J., Scottish Nationalism, Harvard University Press, 1969
  • Christopher Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism: Scottish Society and Politics 1707 to the Present, Routledge (4th edition), 2004
  • Gerry Hassan (ed.), The Modern SNP: From Protest to Power, Edinburgh University Press, 2009, ISBN 0748639918
  • Lloyd-Jones, N., "Liberalism, Scottish Nationalism and the Home Rule crisis, c.1886-1893", "English Historical Review" (August 2014)
  • Lynch, Peter, SNP: The History of the Scottish National Party, Welsh Academic Press, 2002
  • John MacCormick, The Flag in the Wind: The Story of the National Movement in Scotland, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1955
  • Mitchell, James, The Scottish Question, Oxford University Press, 2014


  1. "National Party of Scotland:Birth of a new organisation". The Glasgow Herald. 15 May 1928. p. 9. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  2. "National Party: New Scottish Political Organisation: Inauguration at Stirling". The Glasgow Herald. 25 June 1928. p. 15. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  3. "Scottish Nationalists to Unite". The Glasgow Herald. 1 February 1934. p. 8. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  4. "National Party's aims. Implications of self-government. Scotland's control of her own credit". The Glasgow Herald. 29 February 1932. p. 9. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  5. Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 638. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.