The party was founded in 1912 by a group of former Liberal Party MPs who disagreed with their party's budget, the party soon found a niche for itself as representing urban middle class liberal-conservative thought.
The Reform Party was the second largest party in parliament from 1951 until 2015 when it overtook the Labour Party to become the largest party.
The Reform Party is considered to represent mainstream liberal conservatism in Scotland, and is considered to be to the left of the more socially conservative Conservative Party, and to the right of the more centrist/agrarian Centre Party, the radical centrist Liberal Party and the social democratic Labour Party.
Minor Party 1916-1944
Campbell 1944-1964John Campbell succeeded Edwards as leader in 1944. Campbell underwent a complete reorganisation of the party, setting up new branches and creating a constituency based party structure, as well as centralising internal party power to the Leader. A party Central Office was set up in Edinburgh, Reform House (now Campbell House), including departments on campaign organisation, political research, a manifesto department and an advertising department. In 1945 the party's youth wing, Young Reform, was set up, and soon became a breeding ground for future MPs.
The 1946 election saw Reform gain nine seats, more than doubling their representation in parliament, although the Labour Party was comfortably returned to government in a landslide. This was seen as a vindication of Campbell's reforms to the party structure
The 1950 election was the greatest Reform victory until then, and saw them win 26 seats in parliament, overtaking the Liberal and Conservative parties to become the largest opposition party.
In 1957 the Reform Party entered government, and Campbell became Prime Minister.
Iain McNair was elected unopposed as Campbell's successor. He had served as Campbell's deputy since 1944, and had held prominent cabinet positions during the coalition government of 1957-63.
The 1965 election was a major disappointment for Reform, who had hoped to return to government in coalition with the Centre and Conservative parties once again.
After ten years in opposition Reform returned to government following the 1973 election, in coalition with their usual Conservative and Centre Party allies, with the support of Independents.
Iain McNair retired as party leader in February 1976. Former Finance Minister Kenneth Munro was easily elected his successor. Munro took a much more aggressive stance in challenging Labour in government.
The 1985 election proved to be very disappointing for Reform, receiving a net gain of only one seat. Despite this, Munro insisted he would remain leader, and lead Reform into the next general election. In February 1986 he was challenged for the leadership by shadow foreign affairs spokesman Michael Jardine, who defeated Munro for the leadership, 24 votes to 18.
Jardine moved the Reform Party in a more free market oriented direction, endorsing policies such as privatisation, voucher schools and a flatter tax system.After the 1989 general election Jardine formed a minority centre-right coalition government with the support of independents. Jardine forcefully pushed for cuts in public expenditure, something controversial amongst his own government let alone the independent MPs he relied upon. When the government's budget was voted down Jardine went to see the King and a snap election was called. The election saw Reform increase its seat total to 64, however due to the left leaning nature of the elected Independent MPs, and Jardine's insistence on the need to re-introduce the government's unpopular budget, Labour Leader John Cunningham was elected Prime Minister.
The 1991 election
After the 1995 general election Reform was able to form a coalition with its usual partners, as well as the populist Scottish Democrats, creating the first majority government since 1989. The coalition was finally able to press ahead with its programme of economic deregulation, tax cuts, the partial or full privatisation of some state owned industries, and controversially cuts to the welfare state. These reforms were deeply unpopular with some segments of scottish society, and the new Labour Leader Alex Wishart was able to mobilise public opinion against the government and gain a strong poll lead.
The coalition government was defeated at the 1999 general election in a landslide, with Reform losing 15 seats. Despite the defeat Jardine remained party leader, although now a deeply divisive figure even within his own party. Over the next 18 months three MPs left the party, one joining the Liberal Party and the others sitting as Independents, all citing Jardine's leadership as a reason. In April 2001 at a meeting of the parliamentary party Deputy Leader David Swann tabled a motion of no-confidence in Jardine's leadership, with was passed by 30 votes to 50, ejecting Jardine from office. Swann was subsequently elected Leader unopposed.
The 2003 election was a disaster for Reform, and saw the party lose nearly half of its seats, falling to just 29 seats, their lowest number since 1950.
Karen King was elected unopposed as Joyce's successor as party leader.The Reform Party won the 2011 general election in a landslide, winning 65 seats.
In 2012 the party celebrated its centenary.
The 2015 general election saw a stunning victory for Reform, winning a record 76 seats and overtaking the Labour Party as the largest party in parliament for the first time.
The Reform Party was largely founded as a liberal party, indeed the party was formed from a left wing splinter from the Liberal Party. However anti-socialism became a more prominent party plank from 1926 onward, driving the party toward the centre-right.
Since the 1990s the party has also supported economic liberalism and deregulation, including the partial or full privatisation of many state owned industries. However, the party does still support the existence of the Scottish welfare state.
Reform has also tended to be more socially liberal than either the Centre or Conservative parties.
1912-1926 Thomas McDuff
1926-1935 James Keating
1935-1944 James Edwards
1944-1964 John Campbell
1964-1976 Iain McNair
1976-1986 Kenneth Munro
1986-1999 Michael Jardine
1999-2003 Tom Swann
2003-2010 David Joyce
2010- Karen King