SNP reveals huge membership losses as 30,000 people leave party

The release follows mounting pressure from all three SNP leadership candidates.

SNP reveals huge membership losses after demands from Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan Getty Images

The SNP has revealed huge membership losses after losing around 30,000 members in the last two years, the party has confirmed.

Following pressure from all three leadership candidates, the Scottish National Party announced on Thursday that it currently has 72,186 members.

This is down from nearly 104,000 members in 2021, when the party last released membership numbers.

At its peak in 2019, the SNP had 125,691 members. 

Humza Yousaf, Ash Regan and Kate Forbes had all called for the party to reveal the information ahead of the vote that will decide Scotland’s next First Minister.

The SNP had previously said it would only release the information following the vote outcome later this month.

SNP leadership candidates Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes all put pressure on the party to release its membership numbers.STV News

On Wednesday, Regan released an open letter, backed by Forbes, calling on SNP CEO Peter Murrell to hand over the information “as soon as possible”.

Its release, they said, was necessary to “ensure a fair and transparent leadership election”.

Forbes’ campaign team said the drop in membership “underlines the need for change” within the party.

MSP Michelle Thomson, who is running the finance secretary’s campaign, said: “Whilst I’m pleased that common sense has prevailed with the publishing of the membership figures, the alarming drop in members shows that the party needs a change in direction.”

She continued: “[Forbes] will ensure that SNP members are empowered and policies reflect the diversity of the SNP membership.

“The SNP is a democratic institution and we need to ensure the grassroots have more of a say, in order to maintain trust and confidence of members.

“The membership numbers add weight to the fact that it’s time for change.”

Kate Forbes said the loss in membership shows it's 'time for a change' within the SNP.STV News

Regan said: “The SNP has a tradition of attracting independent-minded and smart people who work together for Scotland.

“We’ve lost some good people and I want to see us build our membership numbers and attract people back to the party.

“The SNP I lead will recognise the hard work and dedication of our activists.”

Membership numbers for other Scottish parties show that in 2021, Labour had 16,467 members while the Greens had 7,500.

In 2020, the Liberal Democrats had 4,185 members.

The Scottish Conservatives have been contacted by STV News for their most recent membership numbers.

Yousaf said he welcomed the publication of the membership numbers.

“I’m pleased the SNP NEC has taken the right decision to release the party’s membership – reaffirming that the SNP remains by far the biggest political party in Scotland,” he said.

“I trust this decision will also put to bed claims and hearsay that seek to undermine our party’s integrity and benefits only our opposition.

“As a party, we now need a progressive leader who can command support – ensuring our membership are engaged in the future of the party as we look to unite, and strengthen, support for the SNP and the wider independence movement.

“With polling clearly demonstrating I am the SNP voters’ favourite to become Scotland’s next First Minister, I am the leader who can solidify our support and secure independence.”

A spokesperson for the SNP said: “After many years of delivering for people across Scotland and working towards a better future as an independent country, the SNP remains the biggest – and indeed the only mass membership – party in Scotland.

“We remain grateful to our large and committed membership for all their support which has done so much to fuel our electoral success.”

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