Figures released yesterday show that the SNP have maintained their position as the most popular party in Scotland. Party membership has risen by 4 per cent over the last 12 months, and by a staggering 71 per cent since 2003.
According to official figures the SNP now has 16,232 members, compared to 9,450 on December 31, 2003.
The SNP’s business convener, Bruce Crawford, said: “With over 16,000 members, the SNP is now the largest party in Scotland and is increasingly the natural choice of those wanting to build a better Scotland.
“The year-on-year rises are a clear recognition of the success of the SNP in government, with a strong team of ministers working hard to make our nation smarter, fairer and wealthier.
“We are hopeful of continued membership growth up to and beyond next year’s Holyrood elections.”
The party has recently made attempts at attracting young members and are currently offering free membership to students angry with tuition fee increases in England.
The recent Labour leadership contest showed that in Scotland the Labour party’s membership had shrunk to 13,000 from an estimated 30,000 in 1997.
A spokeswoman for Labour claimed that the party now had 20,000 members and that an extra 2,900 Scots had joined Labour since May’s general election. However the spokeswoman admitted that the 20,000 total included affiliate members who are not full members.
An example of affiliation is a social club member whose club pays an affiliation fee to the Labour Party, the club members then become affiliated members of the Labour Party.
The Tories are reckoned to have around 13,000 members in Scotland. The LibDem’s number was estimated to be around 4000 two years ago and may well suffer as a result of the party’s coalition with the Tories and their stance over tuition fee increases in England.