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Wings Over Scotland

Legal, decent, honest and truthful?

Posted on August 03, 2012 by

After several weeks asleep, the Scottish political scene has stirred itself into a bit of life today with several interesting bits of news. The one that most caught our eye was a piece by Michael Crick for his Channel 4 blog, which noted the catastrophic collapse in Lib Dem party membership numbers – down an eyewatering 25% in a single year since entering a coalition government with the Tories.

The post is chiefly concerned with UK party membership, pointing out that Labour had gained all of 39 members in the same period (despite Harriet Harman putting the figure at a slightly more impressive 65,000) and also noting that the Tories didn’t release any UK membership stats. Buried away in the second-to-last paragraph, however, is the fact that SNP membership grew by a hefty 24% over the same 12 months, and has apparently jumped a further 16% in the first half of 2012 to stand at 23,376. That’s a massive 44% increase in 18 months.

(On current trajectories, the SNP will overtake the UK-wide Lib Dems well before the next UK election, and indeed before the independence referendum.)

Scottish Labour, meanwhile, are inexplicably shy of revealing their membership, and have been for some time. A couple of years ago the Caledonian Mercury looked into some odd discrepancies in their stats, and concluded that while Labour were claiming to have 20,000 members in Scotland, some extremely creative counting meant that the real number was likely to be much closer to half that.

In any event, it seems certain that the SNP has now overtaken even Labour’s wildest and most Stalinist estimates of its own membership in Scotland, which means that we won’t be hearing any official figures from Labour any time soon. We can’t blame them for that – we’d want to hide the fact that our main rivals were now twice our size too. But given that Scottish Labour still claims to be “Scotland’s largest political party” (and also claims on its website to have a “growing membership”), perhaps there might be a case for the Advertising Standards Authority to investigate.

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5 to “Legal, decent, honest and truthful?”

  1. John Lyons says:

    Numbers! Awesome I normally really like numbers, but I Love these!

  2. Oldnat says:

    Mind you, if Channel 4 are as bad at sums as they are at geography, they may not be reliable.
    Channel 4 News @Channel4News
    England now third in Olympic medal table after Victoria Pendleton wins gold in keirin cycling event.

    Tweeted twice – Oops!

  3. Appleby says:

    Well Labour do seem to be clinging on to past glories elsewhere. I suppose membership numbers is part of that “rose-tinted” reality for them.
    Cracking bit of news for Scotland’s independence movement though. Clearly the unionists aren’t inspiring upsurges in passionate support. Hints that many of those “No”s or “Don’t Know”s in polls might be easier to sway than I dared hope.

  4. par says:

    I remember faintly reading somwwhere although I could be wrong that ScottishLabour stopped announcing their membership figures in 2004 (the year after the Iraq invasion). They usully announced it at their annual conference. From their continuing secrecy on this, it must have been falling ever since.

  5. hbw says:

    Political parties and any other organisations that claim to speak on behalf of others should be required to publish unambiguous membership figures.

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