THE SNP have insisted branches will not be deprived of cash amid fears some could be left without an election “fighting fund” under changes to their funding mechanism.

New plans drawn up by treasurer Stuart McDonald (below), who was appointed after the arrest of Colin Beattie during the ongoing police investigation into the SNP’s finances, would see the party gain more centralised control over how money is divvied up.

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He will ask the SNP’s annual conference to approve a motion which would give the national council the ability to change how branches are funded. 

His motion would not remove the ability of conference to approve changes to how branches are funded, however conference meets less frequently than the national council. 

Under the current constitution, the SNP’s conference has sole ability to approve any change to how branches are funded.

McDonald's plans are understood to be intended to make the party more flexible in how it funds branches.

But fears have been raised it is intended to shore up HQ’s finances as the party suffers from flagging donations.

It is believed the central party could be inclined to reduce the 25% of subscription fees to which branches are currently entitled, with one insider claiming that figure could be brought down to “zero”.

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But an SNP spokesperson said no changes would be approved without consulting branches.

They said: “No change is being proposed to the branch levy in this motion, and nothing would be done without consultation and engagement with branches.”

The SNP is currently funded by members paying subs to branches, who then send that money to HQ to be allocated downwards.

Any changes to this model must be approved by a vote of the party conference, due to take place in Aberdeen later this month.

'No fighting funds'

An insider told The National the MP’s plans would be unpopular with members and if they passed, could leave branches without cash to fight campaigns in the General Election expected next year.

An SNP source said: “If the idea is that the cash branches currently receive, if that was less for example and more going to the headquarters operation then it might be easier going through national council rather than the annual conference.

“Obviously I think the system with 25% going to branches has actually been quite successful, it’s popular with branches, that they can feel that they are putting money away for future elections or other events.

“But at the same time I can understand why the national treasurer might want to focus more of the money into headquarters.

“Some branches are relatively well off and maybe don’t rely on that money but there will be other branches that do use that as their fighting fund as it were for an election or a campaign that they might be running locally.

“I think 25% has always seemed like a relatively good figure, it seemed to be quite fair so I think if you were starting to change that, it maybe opens the opportunity to reduce it to zero.

“It’s not something I would like to see the party tamper with, it’s of value to branches and I think it’s a convenient way of managing it.

“Local autonomy remains in place but you’re giving quite a considerable amount of money as well to the headquarters operation so I think it’s a best of both worlds.”