Scottish political timeline

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1800s

  • 1853 —National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights established
  • 1856 — National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights wound-up
  • 1871 — Prime Minister William Gladstone says that if home rule is granted to Ireland then the same should apply to Scotland.
  • 1885 — Office of Secretary for Scotland revived; Scottish Office established in London
  • 1886 — Liberal Unionist Party established; co-formed by Joseph Chamberlain who proposes idea of 'Home Rule All Round'

— Scottish Home Rule Association established, an organisation close to the Liberal Party

  • 1888 — Scottish Labour Party formed; James Keir Hardie plays a leading role
  • 1893 — Second Home Rule Bill defeated in the Lords, having passed the Commons

— Independent Labour Party (ILP) formed after a conference in Bradford. Merged two years later with the Scottish Labour Party.

  • 1894 — Scottish Standing Committee set up to consider all Scottish legislation

1895–1905, Tory rule

  • 1894 — Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone resigns
  • 1895 — Tories form the government
  • 1897 — Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) formed to ensure the unions could increase their political influence.
  • 1900 — Scottish Workers' Parliamentary Election Committee established, a combination of political and trade union interests

1906–18 Liberal Party

The Liberal Party is elected, with Liberals winning a landslide victory in Scotland, trouncing Conservative and Liberal Unionists by 58 seats to 12, with Labour picking up its first two Scottish victories.

  • 1906 — Liberal Party elected, became one of the great reforming governments of the twentieth century
  • 1910 — Liberal support consolidated in the January and December elections in contrast to England where the Conservatives staged a recovery.
  • 1912 — Irish Home Rule legislation passed
  • May 1912 — Merger between Liberal Unionist Party and Conservative Party; Scottish Unionist Party formed
  • May 1914 — Home Rule Bill passes second reading in House of Commons but fails to reach statute book before outbreak of First World War
  • 1915 — Clydeside engineers go on strike

— Ren strikes in Glasgow

1915 Asquith

  • 1915 — Asquith forms an all-party coalition
  • 1916 — David Lloyd George forces Asquith out of office, splitting the party

1918 Liberal Coalition Government

1918 General Election — Collapse of the Asquith Liberals resulted in Labour looking like the only credible party not in government.

1922 UK Con / Scot Lab

Labour becomes biggest party in Scotland, returning 29 MPs (10 of them from Glasgow), and took 32% of total votes cast. Although in other areas, like Edinburgh for example, Labour achieved less than 10% of the overall vote.

1923 UK Lab / Scot Lab

1924 UK Con / Scot Unionist

In the General Election of 1924, Scottish Unionists achieved a majority of Scottish seats — 37 out of 73. The Liberal Party was routed and reduced to a rump of 8 seats, 5 of which were in the Highlands and Islands.

  • 1928 — National Party of Scotland (NPS) formed, becoming the first Scottish nationalist political party

1929 UK Lab / Scot Lab

The Scottish Unionists suffered a set-back in this election.

1931 UK Nat Govt / Scot Nat Govt

The Scottish Unionists reasserted themselves in the 1931 election during an electoral backlash against the Labour Party that resulted in the creation of the National Government. The Scottish Unionist Party won 79% of the Scottish seats that year: 58 out of 73.

1935 UK Nat Govt / Scot Nat Govt

The Scottish Unionist Party returned a reduced majority of 45 MPs.

  • 1936 — Saltire Society formed with object of restoring Scotland as a cultural unit

1945 UK Lab / Scot Lab

In Labour's landslide victory in the 1945 election, the Unionists won only 30 of the (now) 71 constituencies.

1950 UK Lab / Scot Lab

In the 1950 election, a majority of Labour MPs was returned again, but the Scottish Unionist Party closed the gap by returning 32 MPs.

1951 UK Con / Scot Con

In the Conservative election victory of 1951, an equal number of Labour and Unionist MPs were returned from Scotland, 35, with one solitary Liberal taking the remaining seat.

1955 UK Con / Scot Con

The 1955 election brought unparalleled success for the Scottish Unionist Party, gaining 50.1% of the vote and 36 of the 71 seats at Westminster. Often cited as the only party to achieve a majority of the Scottish vote, 6 of the Conservative and Unionist MPs were returned that year under the label of Liberal Unionist or National Liberal.

1959 UK Con / Scot Lab

1964 UK Lab / Scot Lab

  • 1965 — Scottish Unionist Party renamed 'Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party'; no longer independent and constitutionally comes under the control of the British party.

1966 UK Lab / Scot Lab

1970 UK Con / Scot Lab

Feb 1974 UK Labour (minority) / Scot Lab

Oct 1974 UK Lab / Scot Lab

1979 UK Con / Scot Lab

1983 UK Con / Scot Lab

1987 UK Con / Scot Lab

1992 UK Con / Scot Lab

1997 UK Lab / Scot Lab

2001 UK Lab / Scot Lab

2005 UK Lab / Scot Lab

2010 UK Coalition / Scot Lab

2015 UK Con / Scot SNP

2017 UK Con (minority) / Scot SNP