SNP 'in the intensive care unit' over independence says Cochrane
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The newly-released numbers show Scotland’s ruling party, led by Nicola Sturgeon, had more than 125,000 members on its books at the end of 2019, but this had plunged to just over 100,000 at the end of last year. Before the ill-fated Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the SNP had around 25,000 members, but that number skyrocketed in the wake of that failed vote, topping 125,000. That number remained steady for the next few years, with the membership number standing at 125,534 on December 31, 2018.
This figure rose slightly in 2019 to 125,691, or 3.2 percent of the entire Scottish electorate.
The SNP accounts noted the combined membership of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties was then just 1.7 percent of the UK electorate.
But the onset of the Covid pandemic and resulting lockdowns in early 2020 has inflicted a huge blow on the party’s membership, which plummeted as people attempted to save money.
The SNP accounts for 2020 said: “The overall number of members at year end was 105,393. All of those cancelling or lowering their membership payments listed the pandemic as the reason.”
In 2021, that downward spiral continued and by December 31, the membership count stood at 103,844.
Overall, this means the SNP’s membership has fallen by 21,807 people – or 17.3 percent – in just two years.
Despite this membership plunged, the SNP remains the third largest political party in the UK after Labour and the Conservatives.
In addition, the SNP has managed to increase income from membership fees, which generated £2,247,344 in 2019, £2,430,010 in 2020 and £2,516,854 in 2021.
The SNP said no other political party in the UK had seen a rise in membership income last year.
A spokesperson insisted despite the fall in membership, there had been a “mass exodus” of members from the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats.
They said: “The SNP is the only major UK political party to see a rise in membership income last year.
“Although our overall membership fell by 1.5 percent, that’s dwarfed by the mass exodus of 18 percent of Labour members and 25 percent of Lib Dems last year.”
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This comes with the latest accounts also showing the SNP has already spent more than a third of its Scottish independence fighting fund – despite not knowing if a vote will actually take place.
Ms Sturgeon wants to hold a second referendum on the matter on October 19, 2023, but leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have insisting an independence referendum will not take place as long as either of them is Prime Minister.
But despite uncertainty around a possible vote, the SNP said by the end of 2021, it had spent £253,335 – out of £740,822 raised by its referendum appeal since 2017.
Scotland’s ruling party previously said it had spent £51,760 from the appeal by the end of 2020, meaning it spent an eye-watering £201,575 alone from the funds in 2021.
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