The Scottish National Party is a study of the SNP immediately after it came to power in May 2007. It is based on a survey of the entire membership and elite interviews with over 80 senior party figures. Discussion is located within the appropriate literatures and comparisons drawn with other British parties. The image of the SNP as a youthful party, with a decentralised social-movement-type organisation is challenged. The party is much older and much more
male than had previously been thought and appears more like other conventional parties than its past image suggested. Its increased membership in recent years holds few clues as to how to re-engage youth, as even these recent joiners are predominantly older people, often former members returning to the party.
The study questions the value of the civic-ethnic dichotomy in understanding nationalism. SNP members, it argues, acknowledge different ways - civic and ethnic, with the emphasis very much on civic - of defining who is Scottish. The picture emerges of a coherent left-of-centre party that accepts the pragmatism of its leadership. While independence remains the key motivation for joining and being active, a sizeable minority see the party as a means of furthering Scottish interests. The idea
of independence is examined in elite interviews and found, again, to be understood more pragmatically than many commentators have suggested.
Professor James Mitchell has written extensively on Scottish politics. His research interests cover territorial politics, the politics of nationalism, and political identities. He is Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde. Dr. Lynn Bennie's research interests cover the areas of elections and political parties, environmental politics and political participation. She is Senior Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, School of Social Science, University of Aberdeen. Robert Johns researches and has published widely in the field of elections, public opinion and parties, notably as lead researcher on the Scottish Election Study in 2007. He has a particular interest in questionnaire design and survey methodology and has been involved in a number of major survey projects. He is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Essex.
1. Introduction ; 2. From Blackmail to Governing Potential ; 3. From Amateur Activist to Electoral Professional Party ; 4. Who are the SNP Members? ; 5. Membership Motivations ; 6. Activism in the SNP ; 7. National Identity and Nationalism ; 8. Independence, Policies and Strategies ; 9. Conclusion ; Bibliography ; Index