SNP President Election: What You Need to Know

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is set to elect a new president after Michael Russell announced his resignation on 1 December 2023. Russell, who served as the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs from 2020 to 2021, was elected as the president of the SNP in November 2020. He said he decided to step down to focus on his role as the chair of the party’s independence taskforce and to make way for a younger generation of leaders.

How does the SNP president election work?

The SNP president is one of the four national office-bearers of the party, along with the leader, the deputy leader, and the treasurer. The president is responsible for chairing the party’s national conference and national council, overseeing the party’s internal discipline and complaints, and representing the party at various events and functions.

The president is elected by the party members through a postal ballot. Any party member who has been a member for at least 13 months can stand for the position, as long as they have the support of at least 100 other members from at least 10 different branches. The nomination period for the president election opened on 6 December 2023 and will close on 20 December 2023. The ballot papers will be sent out to the members in January 2024 and the result will be announced in February 2024.

Who are the candidates for the SNP president election?

So far, three candidates have declared their intention to run for the SNP president election. They are:

  • Angus MacNeil: He is the MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) since 2005 and the chair of the House of Commons International Trade Committee since 2017. He is a vocal advocate for holding a second referendum on Scottish independence as soon as possible, without waiting for the consent of the UK government. He has also been critical of some of the SNP’s policies on Brexit, currency, and Covid-19 restrictions.

SNP President Election: What You Need to Know

  • Joanna Cherry: She is the MP for Edinburgh South West since 2015 and the SNP’s spokesperson on home affairs and justice at Westminster. She is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist, who led the legal challenge against the UK government’s prorogation of Parliament in 2019. She is also a supporter of a swift independence referendum and has clashed with some of the party’s leadership over the issues of gender recognition and trans rights.
  • Alyn Smith: He is the MP for Stirling since 2019 and the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesperson at Westminster. He was previously an MEP for Scotland from 2004 to 2019 and the president of the European Free Alliance, a grouping of pro-independence and regionalist parties in the European Parliament. He is a staunch pro-European and has campaigned for Scotland to rejoin the EU after Brexit. He has also been a loyal ally of the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and has defended the party’s strategy on the independence question.

What are the implications of the SNP president election?

The SNP president election is seen as a crucial test of the party’s direction and unity ahead of the Scottish Parliament election in May 2024, which could determine the fate of the independence movement. The election could also reveal the level of support for the different factions within the party, which have been divided over the issues of the timing and the legality of the independence referendum, the party’s stance on social and constitutional issues, and the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon.

The outcome of the election could have a significant impact on the party’s relationship with the UK government, the Scottish public, and the international community. Depending on who wins the presidency, the SNP could adopt a more confrontational or a more conciliatory approach towards the UK government on the issue of the independence referendum. The election could also affect the party’s appeal to the voters, especially those who are undecided or sceptical about the independence cause. Moreover, the election could influence the party’s image and influence abroad, as the president is often seen as the face and the voice of the party in the international arena.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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