Broadcaster and mountaineer says “it’s time to make a stand” as SNP membership soars

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The SNP has revealed the party has experienced an unprecedented surge in membership following what they described as David Cameron’s blundering intervention into Scottish politics last Sunday.

Party chiefs have today confirmed that 784 new members have now joined the SNP since last weekend, boosting party membership by 4% in just 5 days.

Following the revelation that the Tory government plan to dictate the terms of the independence referendum from London, new members have been joining the SNP at a rate of one new member every nine minutes.

One new member who tweeted that he had joined the SNP is mountaineer, journalist and presenter on the Adventure Show Cameron McNeish.

Signing up on Wednesday, Mr McNeish tweeted “I guess it’s time to stand up and be counted.  Just joined the #SNP”

Speaking after he joined Mr McNeish added:

“I suppose with my background in the outdoors and a love and interest in Scottish culture and music that goes way back to my youth the SNP is my natural political home, but I’ve become increasingly concerned with UK Governments who seem to exist for the prime reason of protecting the interests of the City of London.”

Mr McNeish, who has written and contributed to programmes for BBC Scotland said he felt now was the time to “make a stand” and added:

“I don’t agree with all the SNP policies but I’ve always felt the best way to change opinion, and maybe policies, is from within, rather than carp and whinge from outside the stockade.”

“I’m immensely proud of my country, as I think my television programmes demonstrate. I felt it was time to do a little more to secure the future for my little granddaughters, and their children’s children. And that future, as far as I’m concerned, is an independent Scotland within Europe.”

SNP Business Convener Derek MacKay MSP welcomed the huge support from the public that the SNP has received this week.

Mr MacKay said:

“Cameron McNeish is one of many new members who have joined in support of their country’s future this week.  We have been overwhelmed with the support of the people of Scotland over the last few days.

“The numbers of people going online to sign up to the SNP is simply phenomenal, one new member every nine minutes.  David Cameron should reflect on the fact that the SNP has 800 more activists just days after his blundering intervention into Scottish politics.

“Nobody cares more about Scotland’s success than the people who live here. That’s why they’ve responded in such huge numbers as they believe the decisions over our country’s future should be taken by people in Scotland.”

At the end of 2011 the SNP announced it had a record 20,000 members.  Two weeks into 2012, the figure is now within touching distance of 21,000.  The party has set a goal of achieving 38,000 members for the independence referendum.

In contrast, opposition parties have seen membership numbers fall.  During the recent Scottish Conservative leadership election, the party issued some 8500 ballot papers.  However only 5676 members voted, suggesting the party’s active membership is in decline.

Labour have steadfastly refused to publish a detailed breakdown of its recent Scottish leadership election results, which saw Johann Lamont replace Iain Gray.

However figures from the party’s UK leadership election in 2010 suggested that the party had just 13,135 fully registered members in Scotland, a dramatic decline from the 30,000 membership claimed by Labour in Scotland in 1997, and well short of the 18000 plus claimed by the party in 2010

Most independent observers believe that Labour’s true membership in Scotland has declined even further and the party enters 2012 facing an activist crisis.