God damn activists are a shower o lazy b*stards. ALL THEIR FAULT!!
MOST of the SNP’s new members are inactive ‘armchair supporters’ who cannot be relied upon to help the party campaign at election time, new figures suggest.
Just 34 per cent of members bothered to vote in the recent SNP deputy leader contest, compared to 55 per cent when the post was last contested two years ago.
Although 40,500 extra members had a chance to pick Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy this year, only 70 more votes were cast compared to 2014, up from 34,934 to 35,004.
Turnout in the recent UK Labour leadership contest was 77 per cent.
The low turnout, which was not announced at SNP conference when the result was declared last Thursday, was in spite of voting being possible on mobile phones and computers.
It means Angus Robertson was elected SNP deputy leader with fewer votes than his predecessor, Stewart Hosie.
After two voting rounds, Mr Hosie won with 18,915 votes, or 55 per cent of 63,000 members in 2014; Mr Robertson won with 18,736 votes, or 52.5 per cent of 103,000 eligible members.
One senior SNP source said the figures showed a “disconnect” between the members and the leadership, who had failed to adjust to becoming a mass membership party since 2014.
SNP membership shot up from after the independence referendum from around 25,000 to around 120,000.
The source said: “If people aren’t prepared to vote, when it was so simple to vote, it points to a disconnect between the membership, HQ and the leadership.
“HQ are content to take people’s money, but not engaging with members. We need to understand why people didn’t vote.”
The source said the figures confirmed a problem in the EU referendum campaign – a lack of members willing to engage in street-by-street campaigning.
A Scottish LibDem spokesman said: “It’s no wonder these numbers have been hushed up. They show that the SNP is not managing to energise its own members any more.”
Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University’s politics department said: “One would expect there to be many more armchair members in the people who have been added than in the traditional pre-referendum membership. But it’s probably still true that there are more SNP activists out there now than there were two years ago.
“It’s an indication that a lot of people in the SNP are not that involved, or didn’t find the deputy leadership contest that striking or intriguing. People who signed up now are not going to be as keen and interested as those who have been carrying the flag for 20 or 30 years.”
In her closing speech to the SNP conference on Saturday, the First Minister stressed the importance of next year’s local elections, when activist turn-out is usually critical.
However Prof Curtice said the SNP’s overall strength suggested shoe leather would not be as important in 2017.
Asked specifically about the low turnout, an SNP spokesman said: “Tens of thousands of party members voted in our Depute Leadership contest, which was contested by four impressive candidates. Angus Robertson will continue to hold the UK Government to account in his role at Westminster while helping to build the SNP as a successful campaigning force.”
SNP membership was around 116,000 when deputy nominations opened, but only those over 16 with up to date membership subscriptions on September 21 could vote. THE HERALD