Election 2015 Scotland

Election profile: Scottish National Party

SNP rosette and saltire flag Image copyright PA
Image caption The SNP won six seats in the 2010 general election

The Scottish Nationalists are fighting all 59 Scottish seats at the 7 May election. Here, the BBC's Andrew Black looks at where it all began for the party.

On 7 April, 1934, a movement was born.

From the day of its first meeting, the Scottish National Party has flourished from one of protest to a political success story.

Despite its turbulent history, the party has become a dominant political force in Scotland.

Could it now become so in UK terms?

A series of by-election wins - the first in 1945 - helped the SNP build its brand to the point where it had 11 MPs in the 1970s.

Despite launching the famous "It's Scotland's Oil" slogan, the party was slashed to two Westminster seats in the 1979 election which saw Margaret Thatcher sweep to power.

The resulting fallout gave rise to the infamous '79 Group, a splinter organisation which sought to get the SNP back on track.

Several of its members - including Alex Salmond - were briefly expelled from the party following a ban on organised groups, but this form didn't hamper his subsequent rise.

Mr Salmond led the SNP between 1990 and 2000, before making a surprise comeback four years later during tough times for the party - taking it to its first Scottish election win in 2007, by a single seat.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Winnie Ewing and supporters in triumphant mood after the 1967 general election
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alex Salmond celebrates his party being the biggest after the 2007 Holyrood poll

As a minority government looking for opposition backing on an issue-by-issue basis, its planned Independence Referendum Bill was ditched through lack of support.

But it didn't stay that way for long, after the SNP again made history in 2011 with a landslide election win, as Labour faltered.

With the right number of MSPs to hold a referendum, the party sought to adopt a more international outlook by controversially voting to end its decades-old opposition to the Nato security alliance.

The campaign for Scottish independence was hard-fought.

In the end, the result didn't go the SNP's way, and Mr Salmond was succeeded as leader and first minister by Nicola Sturgeon.

But rather than imploding - as its political opponents hoped - the party membership surged.

As Mr Salmond seeks to make yet another comeback - this time as an MP - the SNP now wants to win enough Westminster seats to hold sway over the next UK government.

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