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