Branch history

History of the SNP London Branch

Scotland and London have a lot in common, latterly and not least a firm rejection of Brexit and a mostly left-of-centre political culture. And before and since the formation of the SNP in 1934, the party has had a presence in the UK capital. The London branch is one of only two outside Scotland (the other is in Brussels) and as, along with HQ branch, it embraces members from around the world, it is also one of the largest in the party. However given it has no direct connection with constituencies and wards, it has a slightly different remit.

While sharing the traditional objective of raising funds, discussing policy initiatives and proposing motions to conference, branch members also get involved in election campaigns by travelling to Scotland or by working from the branch call centre. And courtesy of its location, it can wield a substantial degree of soft power by inviting politicians, diplomats, journalists, academics and intellectuals resident in London and the South East to speak to branch open meetings – building alliances and creating a positive impression of the independence movement. Lastly, it also is a home and a touchstone for independence-minded London Scots who are either domiciled or who plan eventually to return home.


The Early Years

Our ancestor organisation, the Scots National League, was formed in London in 1921, and the London branch was one of the first branches to come into being after the party was created in 1934. These were quiet, even lonely years to be a member of the SNP in London, but the branch managed to survive through World War II. To reinvigorate activities, members leafleted outside Westminster Abbey to have the stolen Stone of Destiny returned to Scotland. read more


The 1970s: the Growth years

As was the case for the party as a whole, the branch had a very successful decade and the 1970s saw Gerry Fisher become the pivotal figure in the SNP in London. Gerry had been a key supporter of Winnie Ewing when she was first elected to parliament in 1967 and the branch provided support for her in her somewhat isolated first three years at Westminster.
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The 1980s: the difficult years

The 1980s saw the SNP membership shrink from nearly 80,000 at the beginning of the decade to 10,000 by its end. London branch was severely affected by this downturn and had a membership hovering in low double figures, far fewer than the many hundreds of members it now embraces.
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The 1990s: leading to the Scottish Parliament in 1999

The branch started to rebuild in the early 1990s when Labour Party defector Joe Taylor became convenor. Joe was a fiery debater, very strong on Scottish history and he organised a joint meeting with the Brussels branch to the historic Netherlands town of Veere, which had been the ‘staple port’ for Scotland from the 16th-18th centuries. Winnie Ewing was guest of honour and spoke at the gathering.
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The 2000s: Building a reputation for the Branch and the Party

Paul Martin was the decade’s first convener in 2000. Following Paul’s tenure the branch held its first hustings for branch convener, with Jim Orr edging out David Munn in a tight vote. However Jim soon returned to Edinburgh where he became a councillor, eventually resigning the party whip.
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The 2010s: consolidation and independence within our grasp

The 2010s would be the most significant decade for the London branch, and indeed for the party since its founding in 1934.

David Nummey took over the convenorship of the branch in the lead up to the 2014 referendum and beyond. David proved to be an outstanding convenor and the branch was deeply involved in pro-independence forums across London, active at our call centre and also in canvassing in a number of constituencies in Scotland.
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