Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Chris Marshall
18 March 2023
Peter Murrell quits as SNP chief executive amid membership row

Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell have been married since 2010 | Credit: Alamy

Peter Murrell quits as SNP chief executive amid membership row

Peter Murrell has quit as chief executive of the SNP following a row over party membership figures.

Murrell, who is married to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has been the chief executive of the party for more than 20 years.

In a statement, he said: “Responsibility for the SNP’s responses to media queries about our membership number lies with me as chief executive.

“While there was no intent to mislead, I accept that this has been the outcome. I have therefore decided to confirm my intention to step down as chief executive with immediate effect.

“I had not planned to confirm this decision until after the leadership election.

“However as my future has become a distraction from the campaign, I have concluded that I should stand down so the party can focus fully on issues about Scotland’s future.”

Last night, the SNP's head of communications, Murray Foote, said he was resigning after providing lines to the media which disputed claims the party membership had fallen by 30,000.

Figures released by the party earlier this week show the membership has indeed fallen by more than 30,000 since 2021.

Amid pressure from the candidates vying to be the next leader, the SNP released membership figures earlier this week.

The figures confirmed that just over 72,000 members are eligible to vote in the contest to replace Sturgeon as party leader, with numbers falling by more than 40 per cent from their 2019 high of 126,000.

Last night, Foote issued a statement on Twitter, saying he had acted in “good faith” when issuing responses to journalist enquiring about the party membership.

He tweeted: “It has susequently become apparent that there are serious issues with these responses.”

Murrell is the latest high-profile departure following the resignation of Sturgeon as first minister and party leader last month.

Responding to Murrell's resignation, Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This latest resignation of a top SNP figure goes to show that the wheels have fallen off the SNP wagon.

“When Scotland most needs responsible governance, the SNP has turned inward and begun to tear itself apart.

“If this is what is happening in the party, just imagine the chaos in government.

“While Scots struggle to get by, the SNP are fighting like ferrets in a sack.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “A fish rots from the head down – and the same applies to the SNP.

“The brutal, shambolic SNP leadership election appears to have been the tipping point that’s forced the First Minister’s husband to quit before he was pushed.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Chris Marshall - Chris Stark: We need action not words to tackle climate change.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top