Scottish Party

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Scottish (Self-Government) Party
LeaderJohn Kevan McDowall
ChairmanJames Graham, 6th Duke of Montrose
Dissolved7 April 1934
Split fromUnionist Party
Merged intoScottish National Party
IdeologyScottish nationalism
Scottish independence
British imperialism
Imperial federalism
Political positionCentre-right

The Scottish (Self-Government) Party was a Scottish nationalist political party formed in 1932 by a group of members of the Unionist Party who favoured the establishment of a Dominion Scottish Parliament within the British Empire. The Scottish Party differed from the existing National Party of Scotland (NPS) on the grounds that the NPS and the form of Scottish independence it advocated was ambiguous about the Empire, and they also disagreed with the left-of-centre platform of the NPS.


The Scottish Party emerged in November 1932 as a breakaway from the Cathcart Unionist Association in Glasgow. In June of that year, members of the Association had set up an 'Imperial Committee', which was a pro-Scottish Home Rule front. The committee arranged meetings, made statements in support of Home Rule, and produced a manifesto which proposed replacing the Westminster Parliament with an Imperial Parliament, containing representatives from the British Empire, and establishing dominion Parliaments for Scotland, England, and Wales. This provoked outrage amongst the leadership of the Unionist Party, who were opposed to the establishment of a Scottish Parliament.[1]

John Kevan McDowall, a Glasgow solicitor and the chairman of the committee, was accused by the Glasgow Unionist Association of disloyalty and unconstitutional practices. McDowall, Andrew Dewar Gibb, Colin DT Gilchrist (a WW1 military officer) and around thirty other pro-home rule rebels resigned from the Unionist Party and founded the Scottish Party.[2][1]


McDowall, Gilchrist and Gibb were able to enlist the support of James Graham, 6th Duke of Montrose (who became the party's chairman) and Sir Alexander MacEwen, both champions of moderate Home Rule. Broadly, the Scottish Party consisted mainly of Unionist and Liberal elements (a mixture of lairds, provosts and business people).[1] The party also included some distinguished figures in Scottish public life, such as John Bannerman, Sir Henry Keith and Sir Daniel Stevenson. The Scottish Party functioned more as a think tank than as an active political party. Its membership was less than 1,000, and it did not field candidates in elections.[2]


By 1933 the Scottish Party had received overtures from John MacCormick, secretary of the National Party of Scotland, who sought to negotiate a merger between the two parties in order to unify these two elements of the Scottish independence movement. Gilchrist and Gibb were especially enthusiastic about the merger, but it was met with scepticism from McDowell. In 1934 the NPS and Scottish Party merged to form the Scottish National Party.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Arnold Kemp (1993). The Hollow Drum: Scotland since the war. Mainstream. p. 50.
  2. ^ a b James Mitchell (2014). The Scottish Question. Oxford University Press. p. 93.
  3. ^ "Scottish Nationalists to Unite". The Glasgow Herald. 1 February 1934. p. 8. Retrieved 25 April 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brand, Jack, The National Movement in Scotland, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978
  • Hanham, H.J., Scottish Nationalism, Harvard University Press, 1969
  • Christopher Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism: Scottish Society and Politics 1707 to the Present, Routledge (4th edition), 2004
  • Kemp, Arnold, The Hollow Drum: Scotland since the war, Mainstream, 1993
  • Lynch, Peter, SNP: The History of the Scottish National Party, Welsh Academic Press, 2002
  • Mitchell, James, The Scottish Question, Oxford University Press, 2014