SNP membership crisis blamed on cost of living, with 30,000 drop in one year

Humza Yousaf discusses his hopes for Scottish independence

The SNP is facing further humiliation today as the party’s accounts were published, showing a massive £800,000 deficit.

Across the year ending December 31 2022, the SNP brought in £4.25 million, but spent more than £5 million.

The party’s accountants say this is not “out of keeping with other years in which nation-wide elections were fought, including 2021”.

Regardless of this SNP spin, they warn it is “important” to return the party into the black ahead of the General Election.

There was a significant fall in donations to the party between 2021 and 2022, from £695,351 to £368,538, almost halving over the period.

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This is the second lowest intake seen by the party since 2008, and well below its peak of £4.5m in 2014.

SNP membership has dropped significantly since the party’s last audit, with the document showing just 73,938 members remaining.

This is a fall from 82,598 in December, and 30,000 down on the previous 12 months.

Despite the embarrassment, the party’s national treasurer Stuart Campbell McDonald blames this on “public concern about the economy and job security”.

He says these financial concerns have “understandably impacted on membership income in 2022, with the soaring costs of living being given as a reason for cancelling or lowering membership payments”.

Despite the cost of living crisis affecting the UK across the board, the Liberal Democrats’ accounts – also published today – show its membership rose over the same period; from 94,706 to 97,493.

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The party’s auditing was a crisis in of itself, after it emerged in May that their previous auditors, Johnston Carmichael, had quit in September 2022.

It took more than half-a-year for the SNP to find new auditors, with concerns the party’s Westminster group of MPs would lose its £1.2m pot of public funding if the SNP failed to submit audited accounts to the electoral commission by the May 31 deadline.

The auditor crisis came amid the ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s funding and finances, and the arrests of former chief executive Peter Murrell, ex-treasurer Colin Beattie and Nicola Sturgeon.

Alluding to the ongoing party meltdown, the accounts list £64,000-worth of motor vehicles.

The party’s new auditors, AMS, signed the accounts of on a qualified basis, meaning while they were satisfied everything is in order, it has identified issues that needed to be highlighted.

“During the course of our audit we identified that original documentation in respect to some items of cash and cheques received for the current and prior year, relating to membership, donations and raffle income, were not kept by the party

“We have been unable to satisfy ourselves by alternative means regarding the completeness of income in respect of the above limitation in scope.

“Consequently we are unable to determine whether any adjustment to income is necessary in the current year or prior year and the potential impact on opening reserves accordingly.”

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