The Scottish National Party (SNP) has a secondary leadership role titled "Depute Leader". In other Westminster-system parties this role is called "Deputy Leader". In fact, sometimes SNP people use the term "Deputy Leader".

I get the impression that the SNP party prefers the term "Depute Leader", and everyone should use the term. However, I can't find an official statement explaining the term and the reasons for its use.

What is the origin of this title "Depute Leader"? Why does the SNP use this word "depute" instead of "Deputy"? Does this word with this meaning get used in other contexts than the SNP leadership?

2 Answers 2


This is an example the SNP's Scottish spelling: It simply mean the same as deputy:

  1. a person appointed or elected as assistant to a public official, serving as successor in the event of a vacancy.

As Wikipedia says:

A deputy leader (in Scottish English, sometimes depute leader) in the Westminster system is the second-in-command of a political party, behind the party leader. Deputy leaders often become deputy prime minister when their parties are elected to government. The deputy leader may take on the role of the leader if the current leader is, for some reason, unable to perform their role as leader. For example, the deputy leader often takes the place of the party leader at Question Time sessions in the latter's absence. They also usually have other responsibilities of party management.

At the moment, the SNP's depute leader is Angus Robertson, who was re-elected at their party conference. The depute also has the responsibility of being the SNP's spokesperson at Westminster.

  • For reference, both depute and deputy seem to come from the Anglo-French deputé.
    – Bobson
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 14:17
  • 1
    @Bobson Yes, the Scots kept the wording just without the accent, while the English - who were more assimilated with the French linguistically - kept the pronunciation just changed the spelling to keep the sound. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 14:21
  • Thank you for your answer. The question is about the cultural politics of the word, "depute", not about the role or the person filling the role. The dictionary link showing that "depute" and "deputy" have the the same etymology is useful. The Wikipedia paragraph is not useful, except for its passing claim that "depute leader" is a dialect form of "deputy leader". What about addressing: Why does the SNP use this word? Does it get used outside the SNP? Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 6:54

'Depute' is used to designate the SNP PARTY deputy in Scotland. 'Deputy' is Westminster HOUSE leader of SNP MPs in England.

  • I've removed the first paragraph that looks like an attempt to reply to a comment or another answer. Please take the tour and see the help center to see how this differs from a discussion forum. You can edit to add some more details: Evidence that different words are used for the party depute and the house deputy. and Reasons why different spellings are used for the party depute and the house deputy.
    – James K
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 20:54

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