SNP membership hits 65,000 as ‘extraordinary’ level of political engagement continues


  By Sean Martin
MEMBERSHIP of the SNP has increased by almost 40,000 in the week since the independence referendum, the party has said.
With total membership now exceeding 65,000 people at noon today, the SNP have become the third largest party in the United Kingdom behind the Conservatives and Labour.

The number of new members alone surpasses that of all the other Scottish political parties combined.

SNP business convenor Derek Mackay said the party was happy with the “extraordinary” number joining since the referendum on 18 September.

He said: “This membership happened organically and contrasts starkly with the No campaign parties in the last few days – we have overtaken the Lib Dems at UK level and Labour are in complete disarray in Scotland.”

Mr Mackay also echoed Labour politician and former First Minister Henry McLeish in predicting an increasing feeling of disaffection with Scottish Labour among the electorate.

“Henry McLeish’s comments are absolutely right – Labour’s position in Scotland is growing more precarious by the day as more and more people in traditional Labour heartlands switch to the SNP,” he said.

“It is clearly the SNP that the people of Scotland trust to stand up for Scotland’s interests – and to hold the Westminster establishment to account on their view of substantial more powers for Scotland.

“This new democratic movement in Scotland won’t accept the same old politics as usual from Westminster.”

Following the No vote in last Thursday’s independence referendum, other Yes-supporting parties such as the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) have seen a surge in membership.

Commenting on his own party’s growth, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie insisted it was not only deflated Yes voters who have been prompted to join political parties.

“One thing is very clear to me – as well as the huge numbers of Yes voters who sought the kind of radical change that Westminster is unlikely to deliver, there are also many who voted No but who share our commitment to a sustainable economy, a fair and equal society and a renewed democratic culture,” he said.

As a result of the unprecedented SNP expansion, the party have recently demanded they be given a place in next year’s televised general election leaders’ debates next to Labour’s Ed Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron.

SNP MSP for the West of Scotland Stewart Maxwell said there is no reason his party should be denied the chance to take part in the debates now that they are the third largest in the UK as a whole.

He said: “There can be no justification for the Westminster parties attempting to exclude an SNP voice from TV debates ahead of the Westminster election.”