FORMER first minister Alex Salmond has claimed that the SNP have lost "probably a lot more than 30,000 members" as he criticised his former party for "lying" amid the row.

Speaking to BBC Scotland's Drive Time, the Alba party leader said the decline in SNP members is "catastrophic" and insisted that the loss was nothing to do with critics of the party "but those leading it". 

Salmond also alleged that the drop in membership was due to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP being "preoccupied with gender recognition". 

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On Thursday, Salmond weighed in on the SNP membership row on social media, quoting Robert Burns.

He wrote: "'There’s nane ever fear’d that the truth should be heard, But they whom the truth would indite.'

"It takes decades to build a political party but days to destroy one."

Asked to expand on his comments on social media on BBC Radio Scotland, Salmond said that "obviously" the decline was "catastrophic".

He added: "I mean, for example, when I became leader of the SNP for the second time, in September 2004, then the SNP membership was just over 8000, 10 years later,  it was over 85,000.

"It took a decade to create a political force of that size. 

"But, of course, what we'll see in a very short period of time is a collapse of SNP membership of 30,000 or more. 

"Now, what I'm saying in that tweet is more important than the reduction of membership is the reduction of credibility.

"You see, the SNP have been lying about the membership."

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The SNP released membership figures on Thursday, confirming that there are 72,186 paid-up members voting in the leadership contest. 

This was a drop from 103,884 in 2021. 

BBC journalist Hope Webb asked Salmond if he as leader of an opposition party was weighing in on the debate to "deliberately stoke the fire".

He replied: "It’s a fact that the SNP membership over a decade increased from just over 8000 to 85000, that’s just a fact. 

"And, it’s a fact that the SNP membership over the last year or so has declined by probably a lot more than 30,000, these are just facts nothing to do with my opinion on the matter. 

"And it's a fact that the SNP lied about it, so whether I’m the leader of Alba or the man on the moon doesn't matter. These are the facts, and that's the straight account."

Webb asked Salmond if his intervention was "helping the independence movement", to which he claimed the SNP's misfortunes are "certainly not the fault of Alba". 

"I don’t think even the SNP would regard Alba as responsible for that," he added. 

"If you’re going to solve these things you’ve got to face up to them, and if you’re going to reunite the national movement then it has to be done around an independence campaign.

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"So it’s not the critics of the SNP, whether that be me or anybody else who is responsible for its collapse in its fortunes, those who are leading the SNP are responsible for that."

Salmond later claimed during the interview that the loss in membership was due to the leadership's preoccupation with the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which he described as a "policy no rational person could defend".

The former first minister previously faced a backlash after he described gender reforms as a "daft ideology from elsewhere" and his comments on the transgender prison row, as the policy put in place by the Scottish Prison Service was introduced during his time in office leading the Scottish Government.

The SNP has been contacted for comment.