Forbes says ‘extraordinary turbulence’ in SNP amid reports of Murrell challenge

SNP lead candidate Kate Forbes has acknowledged “extraordinary turmoil” in the party amid reports its chief executive Peter Murrell could face a no-confidence vote.

Mr Murrell, husband of Nicola Sturgeon, is reportedly facing demands from members of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) for a date for his departure.

SNP media chief Murray Foote left the party on Friday amid a dispute over the party’s membership numbers.

Mr Foote said after speaking to the party’s headquarters he gave answers to the media who had “serious problems” and he later decided there was a “serious impediment” to his role.

On Thursday, the party announced membership was 72,186 as of February 15 this year, after falling from 103,884 in 2021.

Hearing of the Harassment Allegations Committee

Peter Murrell is the CEO of SNP (Andy Buchanan)

This confirmed a story in the Sunday Mail in February about the loss of 30,000 members by the SNP, which Mr Foote had staunchly denied at the time.

On Saturday, Ms Forbes published an open letter to SNP members who have yet to cast their ballot.

She said: “Many of you, like me, will be hurt and confused by the extraordinary turmoil in our party over the past few days.

“If anyone had any doubts that this must be a swing election for the SNP, recent events and resignations confirm the core message of my campaign: there will be no continuity.”

She continued: “I love the SNP and am passionate about Scotland’s future as an independent, fair and prosperous nation.

“A few years ago, a scandal rocked the SNP and I was asked to come forward and deliver the budget just hours in advance.

“I did it for my party and for the people of this country. That is the hallmark of who I am. I will not shy away from difficult times.

“Instead, I find the solution and give it my all.

“I have a lot of respect for the other two candidates, but I’m the only candidate who can really make a difference as First Minister.”

Ms Forbes, who is on maternity leave from her government role as Treasury Secretary, pledged to reform the party and committed to an independent audit of membership and finances.

In her letter, she referred to late intervention to deliver the budget to the Scottish Government following the sudden resignation of then-Finance Secretary Derek Mackay in 2020 after it was revealed he had sent hundreds of messages to a teenager.

On Saturday, the Herald newspaper reported that an unnamed senior member of the NEC said: “We have the numbers. There is not the slightest hope that Peter can survive a motion of no confidence.”

The newspaper said rebellious NEC members are urging Mr Murrell to set a date for his departure by the end of Saturday.

Mr. Murrell has been the party’s chief executive officer for more than 20 years.

Ash Regan, one of the other candidates in the running, tweeted the report that NEC members were urging Mr Murrell to leave.

She said: “I am heartened to see that the party’s democratic foundations are now asserting their rightful functions.”

Fellow leader Humza Yousaf spoke on Mr Foote’s departure on Friday.

He said Mr Foote has been “outstanding since he joined the SNP media team” and that he will be “sorryly missed”.

Mr. Yousaf added: “The reform of our headquarters was an important part of my campaign. With a new party leadership should come a new approach to our HQ operations.”


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