Interview with SNP business convener Derek Mackay: "The party is utterly transformed"
Speaking exclusively to Holyrood, Mackay said: “The party is utterly transformed, our meetings are much fuller, activism has soared across the country, there’s more engagement with the Westminster election than is traditionally the case for the SNP and we’re holding big events like the rally in the Hydro.
“All of this shows that the SNP is as reflective of the country as a political party in these islands can possibly be. That membership is huge in number but it represents the diversity of our country, so both geographically and socially, as well as demographically.
“Traditionally what was a problem for the SNP was not having more women elected members. Even if we had high profile women in our ranks, there was a deeper issue around women joining the party and that is now largely resolved. The proportion of the membership who are female is now 44 per cent.
The SNP is as reflective of the country as a political party in these islands can possibly be
“We’ve also fielded a very strong number of candidates, many of them women, for the Westminster election. In terms of the mainstream parties in Scotland, the SNP stands out strongly with the number of candidates coming from the SNP being female. This is all reflective of the enthusiasm which came out of the referendum, which no one predicted.”
With so many more people part of the SNP, does Mackay think party discipline will be a problem?
“It is much more profound than that,” he said.
“Something else has happened, the new members are not just re-energising a political party, they are changing that political party for the better. We’re equally more reflective of society and in course our policies will go through the democratic process.
“Our policies go through ‘one member one vote’ in the branch system so our members at branch level are shaping party policy, which in turn shapes government policy. Rather than keeping control of these members, these members are keeping control of the SNP and that’s a good and healthy thing.
“We have every reason to believe that the political interest shown in the SNP will be sustained for years to come, it’s not just a flash in the pan.”
In terms of gender issues, Mackay said the party has worked very hard to ensure that women have a level playing field.
He said: “We’ve established the women’s academy and there’s much better female representation on the national executive committee of the party. Also, local branches across the country have a women’s officer to help lead that work.
“There’s also the no small matter of having the first female First Minister of Scotland. This has all shown how Scotland and the SNP have moved on, making us more reflective of society and that has a good impact on our policy and our whole agenda.
“The SNP has worked very hard on this. The talent has always been there in the SNP but we have put in extra effort to ensure we have a level playing field for women and that’s now resulting in success.”