THE Scottish Tory chairman has rejected charges of “hypocrisy” levelled against his party for refusing to disclose its membership numbers.

It comes after Humza Yousaf accused Douglas Ross – the Scottish Tory leader – of not practising “what he preaches” for stonewalling press queries about their membership figures despite having “demanded” the SNP publish theirs.

At First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Yousaf said: “This week, the SNP released its membership numbers, which I am pleased have increased in the past few weeks.

“The Tories demanded that we release our membership figures, which we have done, but Douglas Ross does not practise what he preaches. He has not released his party’s membership figures.

“There is a word for people who do not practise what they preach – they are called hypocrites.”

Asked about the hypocrisy charge during the Scottish Conservative conference, the party’s chairman rejected it outright.

MSP Craig Hoy told The National: “We don’t disclose our membership numbers … there is a number, but we don’t disclose it between [party leadership] elections and I’m not going to get drawn into that just because the SNP happen to have made a mess of theirs.”

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Asked if there was a “tinge of hypocrisy” to the refusal, Hoy (below) said: “No, not at all.

“Basically, we’ve a long-standing convention that we don’t publish our member numbers other than at leadership elections in Scotland, and I don’t see why we need to change that just because the SNP have been caught lying about their member numbers.”

He added: “When we publish any data it will always be 100% accurate. We’re not going to be drawn into this and change our policy just because of the SNP getting into a mess over their member numbers, and I think you’ll find other parties in Scotland do the same thing.”

The National:

The Scottish Tories do not publish their membership numbers during a leadership election as such, but instead announce the votes cast, from which the membership can be estimated.

In 2020, the Scots Tories had two leaders. The first of these, Jackson Carlaw, was elected in February. He beat Michelle Ballantyne in a vote of party members by 4917 votes to 1581, meaning the Scots Tories had at least 6500 members at that point. They did not publish official figures during the contest.

Later in 2020, Carlaw was ousted and Ross ran unopposed to become the Scottish Tory leader, meaning the membership was not given a vote.

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The party, along with Scottish Labour and the Scottish LibDems, previously refused to publish their membership figures when approached by The National.

After Rishi Sunak sparked controversy at the conference by trying to block the majority of the media from a press meeting, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack quipped to journalists that the Prime Minister had been late because he was talking to party members and there “are a lot of members”.

Asked if he knew the exact number of members, Jack told The National he did not and that we should ask the party’s “admin”.

Elsewhere at the conference at the SEC, Herald political editor Tom Gordon tweeted an image of the main hall. “Scottish Tory conference may be the smallest I've ever seen. The venue has 360 seats,” Gordon wrote.