Chapter 5 of Glenn Duerr’s Secessionism in the European Union covers the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland. The SNP was founded in 1934 and began gaining momentum as a party following the discovery of oil in the North Sea (81). The party then began to win more elections, winning more seats in the British House of Commons, European Parliament, and Scottish Parliament (82). While membership fell in the 1990s, it has since been growing following the 2014 referendum for Scottish independence, in which 45% voted in favor of independence (77).
The SNP’s movement for independence is particularly nuanced. First, though many Scottish voters support the SNP, they do not all support independence (78). Furthermore, there is some debate over what exactly constitutes Scottish values (79). This is complicated by the fact that Scotland is one of several subnational units within the UK, whose divisions are reinforced by differences in religious holidays, as well as sports (79-80). Despite this, many people (including tennis icon Andy Murray, for example) claim both Scottish and British identities (79-80). Also, identity is even more difficult to pin down due to the fluidity with which people can move across the UK, meaning that identities across subnational units can be mixed and therefore bind people across the UK together (80). Further complicating this is the fact that there has been a change of demography since World War II, with an increase in immigrant communities and people of color living in Scotland (81). Given these factors, Duerr says that the UK can most accurately be considered a multinational state (81).
The SNP is typically characterized as a postmodern nationalist movement, in which territory and identity are not nearly as important as policy choices (78). However, there are concerns that there is still a potentially harmful ethnic component to the movement. Duerr argues that the case for civic nationalism needs to be made more strongly in order to show that the movement is truly inclusive of a more diverse interpretation of Scottish identity (78). This is particularly important given the substantial South Asian and Afro-Carribean immigrant communities that have developed in Scotland in the post-World War II era (81). According to research presented by Duerr, the SNP discusses issues of economics and political autonomy far more than immigration, culture, or language, and economics and political autonomy are given as the primary reason for secession, rather than culture (85-6). Based on statements made by the SNP in these policy areas, they can be categorized as “mostly civic/mixed,” as there are some issues, such as ambivalence toward joining important EU institutions and a lack of diversity in the party, that prevent it from being considered fully civic (99). However, the party has moved more towards civic nationalism over time due to increase diversity in Scottish society (100). Overall, Duerr says that the civically-framed issue of independence will likely remain on the political agenda, as the SNP seems unlikely to lose significant support in the near future (100).
Given the events that have occurred since this book was published in 2015, I think it is likely that the SNP will continue to gain members and momentum and that the push for independence may become more popular, even among those who may have previously supported the SNP but not independence. In the Brexit referendum, a majority of Scottish voters voted “Remain,” which makes sense given their economic interests. Since a majority of Scots disagree with the outcome of Brexit, and considering the SNP’s focus on issues of economics and political autonomy, this may result in increased popularity for secession, or for more devolution at the very least.