National Party of Scotland

National Party of Scotland
Founded 23 June 1928
Dissolved 7 April 1934
Merged into Scottish National Party
Ideology Scottish nationalism
Scottish independence

The National Party of Scotland (NPS) was a centre-left political party in Scotland which was one of the forerunners 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.

The National Party of Scotland was formed 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]

The NPS was a left-of-centre party. The celebrated poet, Hugh MacDiarmid was a member, but was expelled on account of his Communist beliefs (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.

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.[3]

Westminster Elections Candidates standing Seats won Votes % Scottish vote Saved deposits
1929 General Election 2 0 3,313 0.5 0
1931 General Election 5 0 20,954 1.0 3

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-election Candidate Votes % Position
Midlothian and Peebles Northern by-election, 1929 Spence, LewisLewis Spence 842 4.5 4

1929 general election

Constituency Candidate Votes % Position
Glasgow Camlachie MacCormick, JohnJohn MacCormick 1,646 4.9 3
West Renfrewshire Muirhead, RolandRoland Muirhead 1,667 5.4 4

By-elections, 1929-1931

By-election Candidate Votes % Position
Glasgow Shettleston by-election, 1930 McNicol, JohnJohn McNicol 2,527 10.1 3
East Renfrewshire by-election, 1930 Brown, OliverOliver Brown 4,818 13.1 3
Glasgow St Rollox by-election, 1931 Campbell, ElmaElma Campbell 3,521 15.8 3

1931 general election

Constituency Candidate Votes % Position
East Renfrewshire Brown, OliverOliver Brown 6,498 13.9 3
Edinburgh East Alexander, T. T.T. T. Alexander 2,872 9.4 3
Glasgow St Rollox Campbell, ElmaElma Campbell 3,521 13.3 3
Inverness MacCormick, JohnJohn MacCormick 4,016 14.0 3
West Renfrewshire Muirhead, RolandRoland Muirhead 3,547 11.0 3

By-elections, 1931-1933

By-election Candidate Votes % Position
Dunbartonshire by-election, 1932 Gray, RobertRobert Gray 5,178 13.4 3
Montrose Burghs by-election, 1932 Emslie, DouglasDouglas Emslie 1,966 11.7 3
East Fife by-election, 1933 Linklater, EricEric Linklater 1,083 3.6 5

Further reading


  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'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.
  3. 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.
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