THE Scottish Conservatives are set to hold a Holyrood debate on SNP governance accusing the party of a “lack of candour” regarding membership numbers - despite the Tories refusing to release their own figures.

On Wednesday, the Tories have two opposition debates on the Scottish Parliament’s timetable scheduled in the afternoon. The first on the “transparency of Scotland’s governing party” and the other on “reconsidering” Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA).

In the first debate, led by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, the motion calls on First Minister Humza Yousaf to make a statement to the chamber on the governance of the SNP as they are “matters of public interest”.

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The SNP described the Tory debate as the “height of hypocrisy” and urged Ross to release his party’s own membership figures.

Ross previously called on Yousaf to make a statement in the chamber during FMQs last month, but was rebuked by the Presiding Officer as parliamentary rules require the sessions are focused on Scottish Government business. He would later write a letter to the FM with “urgent” questions on the SNP finances.

At the time, the FM conceded there were “serious issues” that he would not “shy away from”.

It comes amid a probe into the SNP finances by police regarding a £600,000 ring-fenced for independence campaigning.

The National: Ross said the Scottish Tories would release membership figures during the next leadership contestRoss said the Scottish Tories would release membership figures during the next leadership contest (Image: PA)

During the SNP leadership contest, SNP comms chief Murray Foote resigned in a row over membership numbers, followed by former chief executive Peter Murrell, after the party’s press team had initially refused to release membership numbers.

It was later revealed that over 30,000 people had left the party, following pressure from SNP leadership candidates for the party to release the figures. The SNP later confirmed a rise in membership numbers from March.

The Scottish Tories, however, have flatly refused to release membership figures, despite repeatedly criticising the SNP for the way they handled the previous row.

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Earlier this week, he claimed the Scottish Tories will release their party membership numbers the next time they have a leadership election.

The motion scheduled for debate argues that the SNP’s governance should be “properly scrutinised and debated” in Holyrood, and accused the Scottish Government of a lack of “transparency and openness”.

It continues: “Calls, therefore, on the Scottish Government to end its pre-release access of statistics, deliver a more transparent budget process, give arm’s-length bodies control over information publication, publish a transparency list of public sector officials who earn more than the First Minister.

“Set swifter publication dates for ministerial expenses and transport dates and improve scrutiny of breaches of the ministerial code, and condemns the SNP for its lack of candour about its membership and governance, and for its abject failure to concentrate on the priorities of the people of Scotland.”

Gordon MacDonald, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentland, said that if Ross wanted to “salvage the smallest smidge of self respect” then the Scottish Tories would release their own membership figures.

“This disgraceful motion is another shocking error of judgement by Douglas Ross - it is the height of hypocrisy for the Scottish Tory Leader to be calling into question issues of transparency of political party membership whilst refusing to disclose his own,” MacDonald said.

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"Nobody will be fooled by the Tory party's cheap political games though, especially from a party who have some nerve to pontificate about transparency when their Prime Minister was all too eager to ban Scottish journalists from asking questions at their Party conference over the weekend – and that’s before we even begin to scratch the surface of dodgy PPI deals and their own elusive membership figures.

“While the Scottish Tories chase headlines with absolutely zero credibility, the SNP Scottish Government will continue to focus on delivering for the people of Scotland and supporting them during the cost of living crisis their cronies helped to create."

We previously told the inside story of how Prime Minister Sunak prompted outrage by attempting to dodge the Scottish press at the Scottish Tory party conference last week.