THE SNP have confirmed they have more than 72,000 party members following pressure from all three leadership candidates to reveal the figure. 

After growing calls from Ash Regan, Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf to release the number of party members voting in the leadership contest, the SNP confirmed there are 72,186 current members.

In 2021, there were 103,884 members of the party, with the latest figures showing more than 30,000 members had left since then. 

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An SNP spokesperson said: "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.

"We remain grateful to our large and committed membership for all their support which has done so much to fuel our electoral success."

Speaking after the announcement, Regan released a simple statement that read: "I get things done."

The National: Ash Regan suggested the drop in membership was related to GRRAsh Regan suggested the drop in membership was related to GRR

She later added: "The SNP has a tradition of attracting independent-minded and smart people who work together for Scotland.

"We've lost some good people and I want to see us build our membership numbers and attract people back to the party. The SNP I lead will recognise the hard work and dedication of our activists."

On social media, Regan suggested the drop was related to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. She added: "It is important to note that there has been a significant reduction in membership numbers since October 2022, following the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) fiasco.

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“This was due to the previous administration’s resistance to listening to reason on the protection of women and girls.

“Such a significant drop in membership numbers must have been what quickened the outgoing First Minister’s resignation.”

Michelle Thomson MSP, Forbes' campaign manager, said following the release that she was pleased "common sense" had prevailed with the release of the figures.

She added: "The alarming drop in members shows that the party needs a change in direction. 

“Kate Forbes is the candidate offering a new start for Scotland – continuity won’t cut it. We need candour on the challenges facing the party and government, but we also need competence to fix them."

"The SNP is a democratic institution and we need to ensure the grassroots have more of a say, in order to maintain trust and confidence of members," Thompson added. 

“The membership numbers add weight to the fact that it’s time for change.”

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Yousaf said that he was pleased the NEC took the "right decision" and that it reaffirmed that the SNP was "by far" the largest political party in Scotland. 

He said: "I trust this decision will also put to bed claims and hearsay that seek
to undermine our party's integrity and benefits only our opposition.

"As a party, we now need a progressive leader who can command support -
ensuring our membership are engaged in the future of the party as we
look to unite, and strengthen, support for the SNP and the wider
independence movement.

The National: The SNP released the figures after pressure from the leadership candidatesThe SNP released the figures after pressure from the leadership candidates

"With polling clearly demonstrating I am the SNP voters' favourite to
become Scotland's next first minister, I am the leader who can solidify
our support and secure independence."

Elsewhere, SNP MP Joanna Cherry said she was "sorry" to see the drop in membership.

She added on Twitter: "We have a tradition of attracting independent-minded smart people who work together for Scotland. We've lost some good people and I want to see us build our membership numbers and attract people back to the party."

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It comes as Nicola Sturgeon told reporters at Holyrood that she did not understand the specific concerns, and said she had “100% confidence” in the integrity of the process.

On Wednesday, Regan and Forbes called for an independent auditor to be appointed to oversee the contest.

The FM refuted this suggestion, adding that the company currently undertaking the election process – Southampton-based Mi-Voice – is independent and has been used in selection processes for three SNP deputy leadership elections, “a range of internal elections” and for candidate selections.

Speaking to journalists after FMQs, Regan was unable to give any specific examples of issues with the voting system.

A senior source in her campaign last week said there were worries about votes from deceased party members or those who have allowed their membership to expire.

But the concerns were dismissed by Yousaf, who hit out at the “baseless smears”.

He said on Twitter: “I have confidence in the process that uses an external third party company, a process we have used for many years.

“I am up for challenge and reform of the party, but let’s not indulge in baseless smears.”