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by Kirsteen Paterson
09 February 2024
Exclusive: SNP membership numbers fall again, new figures reveal

Michael Russell (left) and Humza Yousaf at the SNP's 2023 conference in Aberdeen | Alamy

Exclusive: SNP membership numbers fall again, new figures reveal

SNP membership has fallen again, with the figure now almost half its 2019 peak of 125,000, Holyrood can reveal.

During the leadership contest to succeed Nicola Sturgeon in spring 2023 it was revealed that the total had declined to just under 72,190.

The disclosure came amidst pressure from candidates Ash Regan and Kate Forbes, both of whom called for transparency from the party, and led to the resignation of Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell as chief executive after he was found to have issued inflated numbers.

Now new data shows the fall has continued.

The party, now headed by Humza Yousaf, had a total of 69,235 members at the end of December.

The disclosure was made by SNP national secretary in a meeting of its ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) last month.

At the same session, NEC members agreed not to select a replacement for the party's former president Mike Russell, who left the honorary role at the start of December to become the new chair of the Scottish Land Commission.

Russell had been in the post for three years and has now been confirmed in the commission role.

At the time his departure was announced, the party said NEC members would discuss how to fill the role "at a future meeting", saying "any announcement will be made in due course".

In the January talks, it was decided that a replacement should be elected in a vote at the party's annual conference.

An SNP spokesperson said: "After many years of standing up for people across Scotland and working towards a better future, the SNP continues to be the biggest party in the country by a long way. It is because of the work of our tens of thousands of dedicated members that the SNP continues to be supported and trusted above every other party in Scotland."

Current membership numbers for the SNP's rivals are not known.

However, across the UK the Labour Party had a membership of around 432,000 as of December 2021, with its Scottish membership revealed as almost 16,470 in February that year.

The Conservatives were at close to 172,000 in September 2022, while the Lib Dems had around 74,000 in December 2021.

In August last year, SNP treasurer Stuart McDonald MP linked the drop in membership for his party to the cost-of-living crisis. He said: "Like every membership organisation today, we face challenges and uncertainty in the face of rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis which impacts on our members."

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