The SNP’s deputy leader has confidently insisted his party is “transparent” during a TV interview with the BBC today. Keith Brown acknowledged the “internal challenges” facing the SNP but said First Minister Humza Yousaf is addressing outstanding transparency concerns.
It comes after a probe into membership numbers which resulted in former chief executive Peter Murrell, who is Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, resigning. He had denied the party had dropped around 30,000 members – a claim the SNP then confirmed was accurate.
Meanwhile, police are investigating how more than £600,000 of donations earmarked for independence campaigning were spent, with Mr Murrell and former treasurer Colin Beattie arrested and then released without charge pending further investigation.
Mr Brown pointed to how the SNP’s new leader Humza Yousaf had ordered a governance and transparency review.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Mr Brown said: “So action has been taken to make sure that we meet these internal challenges.
“In the meantime, we are one of the most transparent parties in the UK, you will have a very good idea of the SNP membership … do you know what the membership numbers are for the Scottish Tories or the Labour Party in Scotland?”
When challenged on the remark, he added: “You can’t just gloss over the fact they haven’t misled us, they haven’t told you.
“We are a more transparent, more successful party than any other party in Scotland. We have to increase that transparency. We have to increase that transparency.
“It is my ambition – and I know that it’s Humza’s – to make sure that we are the most transparent party in Scotland and that we set the standard for transparency and shame other parties.”
But Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy claimed the nationalist party had an “addiction to secrecy”. Mr Hoy said: “Keith Brown must be living in a parallel universe to claim that the SNP are one of the ‘most transparent’ political parties in the UK.
“The SNP is in meltdown and Keith Brown’s attempt to dismiss the arrests of his party colleagues as merely ‘internal challenges’ is simply laughable.”
And Scottish Labour said Mr Brown’s “performance was almost Oscar-worthy”. The party’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “Keith Brown’s performance was almost Oscar-worthy, but you can’t claim the SNP is the most transparent party in the country and then moan about how they all ignored your plans to make the party more accountable.
“The truth that both Mr Brown and the Scottish public know is that a culture of secrecy and cover-up has been allowed to fester at the heart of the SNP.”