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Electoral Geography of Great Britain – The Scottish National Party

The Scottish National Party moved from being a marginal party to having a significant impact on Scottish Politics after it won the Hamilton by-election at the height of Labour’s unpopularity in 1967.

By the 1970s, Scottish politics, which had been largely a backwater of English politics, was transformed and there was an increasing national consciousness and pressure for devolution or independence.

In the October 1974 election, the SNP won 30% of the Scottish vote and 11 seats, with its greatest strength in the North-East, the Highlands, Galloway and parts of Central Scotland.

After this, although well established, it was never quite so successful again in Parliamentary elections.

The additional member electoral system devised for Scottish Assembly, with its strongly proportional element, had been thought to make it impossible for the SNP to get a majority of seats but in 2011 they did, winning 53 of the 73 constituencies and 45% of the vote.

Many people in Scotland vote differently in Westminster and Holyrood elections but since Scotland voted ‘No’ in the independence referendum of September 2014, the SNP has seen a huge surge in membership and support.

This has been given even more momentum with leader Nicola Sturgeon (former leader Alex Salmond won a parliamentary seat in 2015). Many were right to predict a Labour electoral meltdown in May 2015 although having the SNP in any coalition discussions never materialised after the Conservatives gained a clear majority. However, the prospect of this happening, based on polls before the vote, did influence many voters to put a cross in the Conservative box.

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