The Scottish National Party, 1960-1974 : An investigation into its organisation and power structure

Crawford, Robert MacKay (1982) The Scottish National Party, 1960-1974 : An investigation into its organisation and power structure. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Between 1960 and 1974, the Scottish National Party underwent
a remarkable organisational expansion. Not only did the number of
members, branches and constituency associations greatly increase, but
by the end of 1974 the Party also succeeded in getting eleven
parliamentary candidates elected to the House of Commons.
This thesis is concerned with the two major organisational
elements of this growth. The actual mechanics of change, this is,
the structural, administrative and personnel dimensions. Secondly,
we examine the nature of the intra-party power relationships as they
evolved in the years under study.
In essence, we argue that far from having a devolved power base,
where decision on organisational matters such as publicity; Party
finance; election strategy; and candidate selection etc., were taken
only after consultation with the membership, the SNP had a highly
centralised management structure.
This view is contrary to most of the prevailing thinking on the
subject. We summarise all of the major writings on the SNP's organisation
in Chapter Two.
We seek to show what factors in the growth of the SNP during this
period, propelled it towards the centralisation of organisation decisionmaking.
We utilise Party records to demonstrate that growth brought in
its wake certain strains which could only be contained, and deflected,
within a hierarchical management structure. With this in mind, during the course of the thesis we draw upon
studies in organisational management which have been undertaken in other
fields. These, we contest, confirm our hypothesis regarding the
inevitability of the need for centralisation in a rapidly expanding
In the specific context of political party management, we test the
relevance of Robert Michels' view of the tendency towards 'oligarchy'
even in parties with an ideological commitment to organisational
democracy. We affirm the value and worth of Michels' views in so far
as these can be applied to the SNP between 1960 and 1974.
Our study is largely empirical. Consequently, we examine and
analyse such critical organisational areas as the SNP's internal
communications; finances; management committee structure; and election
organisation. We also look at certain administrative aspects of the
Labour and Conservative parties, to see how these compared in terms of
centralisation etc., with the SNP. In other words, was the SNP, in the
period under study, more decentra1ised, than the two major British
parties? Most researcl1ers have answered that question in the affirmative.
We conclude by summarising the factors which, we believe, led to
the centralisation of organisational power within the SNP between 1960
and 1974. Explain what elements complicated intra-party power relations
after 1974. And, finally, outline what has happened to the leadership's
control of the Party in recent years. We relate this to our hypothesis
regarding the SNP's growth and consequent leadership domination.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN1187 Scotland
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 1982
Depositing User: Ms Mary Anne Meyering
Unique ID: glathesis:1982-5002
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2014 11:08
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2014 11:36

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