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For the suggestion to rename the Scottish Conservative Party to Scottish Progressives, see 2011 Scottish Conservative Party leadership election.

The Progressive Party was a municipal political organisation that operated in several Scottish cities and towns in the 20th century. It was based on tacit anti-Labour co-operation between the Unionist Party, Scottish Liberals and independents.

Progressive Party
FoundedEarly 20th century
DissolvedLate 1970s
IdeologyAnti-Labour co-operation[1]
Economic liberalism

National political parties were rarely active in local politics but the rise of Labour Party led to a process of party politicisation of local government. However, at first Labour were opposed by the Progressives before other national political parties entered local government elections on a significant scale.

The Progressives formed as a loose alliance of unofficial Liberals, Unionists and independents. Apart from a distinct focus on their urban localities the other essence of the Progressive groupings was opposition to Labour policies and control, plus a desire to avoid splitting the anti-Labour vote.

Progressive groupings formed in Edinburgh Corporation in 1928 and Glasgow Corporation in 1936[2] before spreading to other cities and towns. Their members were mainly drawn from local middle-class businessmen opposed to the introduction of what they saw as municipal socialism and Labour control. They dominated Scottish local politics for almost 50 years and as late as 1972 Edinburgh Corporation was made up of 21 Progressives, 9 Conservatives, 33 Labour and 5 Liberals.

However, by the end of the 1970s they had completely disappeared as the entry of Scottish National Party, Liberal and Conservative candidates into local politics supplanted their role of opposing Labour.[3]


  1. ^ Graham Walker, Tom Gallagher, ed. (1990). Sermons and Battle Hymns: Protestant Popular Culture in Modern Scotland. Edinburgh University Press  – via Questia (subscription required). p. 172.
  2. ^ Smyth, James (2003). "Resisting Labour: Unionists, Liberals and Moderates in Glasgow between the wars" (PDF). The Historical Journal. Cambridge University Press. 46 (2): 398. doi:10.1017/s0018246x0300298x.
  3. ^ Kerevan, George (8 June 2001). "Election 2001 The rise and fall of Scots Tories". The Scotsman  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2013.