By: Chandrashekar Bhat
The number of voting members of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has shrunk dramatically from its pre-pandemic peak.
It now has 72,186 members eligible to vote in the ongoing leadership contest, compared with 125,000 in 2019 when the membership size topped out – clocking a decline of about 42 per cent since then.
It recorded 104,000 members in December 2021.
Critics have attributed the fall to the SNP’s push for gender recognition reforms and its inability to make any meaningful headway in holding a second vote on Scotland’s exit from the UK.
A transgender controversy surfaced over a male rapist who had changed gender after being convicted. Under contentious reforms pushed through by the SNP government, they would have been allowed to serve in a women’s prison. But the UK government blocked the law in an unprecedented move.
Despite the SNP’s vociferous demand for a second vote on Scotland’s independence, several surveys have shown the public is still in support of the country remaining part of the UK.
According to a YouGov opinion poll last week, just 39 per cent of Scots back independence while 47 per cent wish to remain part of the union. This indicates there has been no reversal in the Scottish people’s stand on the independence question since the 2014 referendum when the country voted 55-45 in favour of remaining in the union.
However, despite little progress by the SNP in achieving its stated objective of Scotland’s independence, it still remained the largest political party in the country.
“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,” an SNP spokesperson said after releasing the latest membership numbers.
The figures were made public after all three contestants in the SNP leadership race – Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan – demanded transparency on how the election is run.
The leadership contest is necessitated after Nicola Sturgeon unexpectedly resigned as the first minister last month.