There’s a strange new affliction affecting the SNP: fear of figures.
Now, we should say that we don’t believe for even a second that the SNP has actually had 10,000 new members in the last two days. It’s ridiculous to the point of insulting. But purely for the sake of argument, let’s imagine it was true.
Why would you say it like that?
Because it’s such a strange framing. Lots and lots of SNP accounts have trumpeted all these supposed new members, but by the most extraordinary coincidence not a single one of them has presented them in what you’d think would be the most obvious terms – what the party’s supposed total new membership is.
Because that’s how the party, and Robertson himself, USED to do it:
But now when people – even elected SNP representatives – ask, there is no answer.
It ought to be something they’d be keen to brag about. According to the party’s most recent accounts (the same ones that apparently have £600,000 in ringfenced indyref funding “woven through” them despite the party only having £97,000 in the bank) it had almost 126,000 members before this new surge.
So why wouldn’t you say “Amazing, our membership is now 136,000”? Why be so coy about such a huge number? Why not proclaim the fact that you now had 3.4% of the total electorate signed up? There’s a neat selling point in the fact that that’s exactly twice the figure (1.7%) of the three main Unionist parties combined. Why so shy?
The reason, of course, is that the SNP’s membership is nowhere near 136,000 or even 126,000. Those same accounts accidentally revealed that at the end of 2019 the actual membership was nearer 87,000 (because two branch levies of £1 per member, which can’t be evaded, raised a total of only £174,000).
And we’d bet solid money that the figure has dropped substantially since then as the party has stumbled from one divisive civil war to another. But because the party has locked itself into that lie, it can no longer afford to even give any clues as to what its true membership is, so Angus Robertson has to describe the supposed new recruits in fractions not of the SNP membership but of the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems.
But those aren’t the only numbers the SNP are scared of.
The astonishing tweet above was MP Anne McLaughlin’s response to some people making the incredibly basic request that they actually be told HOW MANY votes had been cast for candidates in the party’s regional list selections, not just who the party had fiddled to come top of each list with its illegal discrimination policy
(A category which happened to include McLaughlin’s partner Graham Campbell, who she brought to the SNP by “horizontal recruitment”.)
Even the candidates themselves weren’t given any information about how the rankings were arrived at or how many votes they got or which ones had registered themselves as beneficiaries of the illegal discrimination policy.
(Amazingly, one councillor claimed the party now provided “more info than it ever did before”. Since literally the ONLY piece of info it provided this year was the rankings, that’s actually not arithmetically possible.)
Publishing vote numbers is the most elementary aspect of democracy. It’s a matter of public record exactly how many people voted for Anne McLaughlin to elect her in 2019.
(6000 fewer than when she first won the seat in 2015, despite having to fight off twice as many competitors that year.)
But if you ask how many her boyfriend got – or whether he came top on actual votes or was elevated to the top of the list purely because he’s black – that’s a “conspiracy theory” and as ridiculous as demanding to know what she had for breakfast.
The SNP is now so paranoid about people knowing the truth that that same boyfriend recently said simply retweeting a link to this site should be an expulsion offence.
It’s slightly ironic because Campbell has been a member of more parties than some people have had hot dinners. He’s contested elections for Solidarity, the SSP, the TUSC and been a member of RISE before he finally stumbled into a shot at the gravy train with the SNP.
Although McLaughlin did her best to get his snout into the trough anyway.
Her reward was a string of scandals, something Campbell seems to attract.
Currently an SNP councillor for the Glasgow ward of Springburn/Robroyston, Campbell ranked 84th out of 85 Glasgow councillors for attendance between 2016 and 2019.
So goodness knows how few meetings he’ll show up to if he gets elected as a list MSP for Lothian, a region he doesn’t live in. But what we’re pretty sure of is that it’ll be a number Anne McLaughlin and the SNP won’t want anyone to know about.