THERE has been an “uptick” in new members joining the SNP despite the high-profile investigation into the party’s finances, the SNP depute leader claimed.

Keith Brown insisted that there had also been an increase in donations in recent months, despite increased scrutiny on the party as the finance probe continues.

Police are investigating how more than £600,000 of donations earmarked for independence campaigning were spent.

It comes after former chief executive Peter Murrell and former party treasurer Colin Beattie were arrested and later released without charge.

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We previously told how the party was forced to release membership figures in March after pressure from SNP leadership candidates Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.

It emerged that 30,000 members had left since 2021, with the figure plummeting from 103,884 to 72,186.

“The activists within the SNP, I have seen in my own constituency as well, are determined to get involved in this and to drive forward the agenda of the SNP,” Brown told the BBC Sunday Show.

“We've seen upticks in membership across the country. We've seen upticks in terms of donations…”

The National: Brown claimed there had been an 'uptick' in members and donationsBrown claimed there had been an 'uptick' in members and donations (Image: PA)

Murrell, former FM Nicola Sturgeon's husband, resigned from the SNP after a row over membership numbers, shortly after the party's media boss Murray Foote had quit. 

Asked to clarify that the membership was growing, Brown said: “Yes, reports across the country, I don't have all the figures from all the different parts of the country yet.

“And also to balance that yes, we have lost members as well.

“But the balances are showing an increase in membership.

“On the doors in Rutherglen, what people were talking about were those issues, and you would think given the newspapers and all the coverage there has been over internal challenges within the SNP that will come up time and again.

“It just did not. It's real issues that affect people, especially those on fixed income.”

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Rutherglen and Hamilton West could potentially see a by-election soon, after Margaret Ferrier, former SNP MP who lost the whip, was suspended from the House of Commons for breaking Covid-19 guidance and travelling while infected with the virus.

Brown said more people have been joining the SNP in the last two or three months, but would not give specific figures.

“I think part of it is because there are challenges, the SNP is in the headlines to a great extent and sometimes people respond to that,” he said.

“It's also this real determination to make sure that the case of the SNP, which of course, is independence for Scotland is forcefully prosecuted, it's really quite heartening to see the response.”

It comes as Brown claimed the SNP are the “most transparent party” despite the police probe.

Brown said: “In the meantime, we are one of the most transparent parties in the UK, you will have a very good idea of the SNP membership … do you know what the membership numbers are for the Scottish Tories or the Labour Party in Scotland?”

When challenged on the remark, Brown added: “You can’t just gloss over the fact they haven’t misled us (on party numbers), they haven’t told you.

“We are the most transparent, most successful party … in Scotland.

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“We have to increase that transparency. It is my ambition – and I know that it’s Humza’s – to make sure that we are the most transparent party in Scotland and that we set the standard for transparency and shame other parties.”

Brown was asked what problems he had identified while conducting a previous inquiry into how the party has been run.

He said: “Perhaps the most glaring issue for me was the fact that a party I had been in for 30 years, that had had a membership never going above 15 or 20,000, suddenly had 100,000 plus members.

“And we did not grow support within the party, either for officer bearers or for members to the extent that we should have done, and many of the issues stem from that particular fact.”

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy appeared on the programme after Brown as he called the remarks “bizarre” and claimed the SNP was “addicted to secrecy”.