In dramatic footage, leaked at the weekend, Nicola Sturgeon insisted the SNP finances had “never been stronger”.

The video, which dated back to March 2021, made the headlines because of the ongoing Police Scotland investigation into the party's funds which this morning saw the arrest of its treasurer Colin Beattie. He was later released without charge pending further investigation.

His arrest came just two weeks after that of Ms Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell as well as police searches of the couple's home near Glasgow and the party's headquarters in Edinburgh in connection with the same probe. Mr Murrell, the SNP's former chief executive, was later released without charge pending further inquiries.

But stepping away from the glare of the police investigation, the footage also gave a fascinating insight into some of the issues involved in fundraising by the SNP and indeed political parties generally.

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In the video, the former First Minister is seen warning her officials to be “very careful” about suggesting there were “any problems” with the accounts.

Ms Sturgeon appeared to go on the offensive at the meeting after three members of her finance and audit committee resigned in protest because they were refused access to the books.

She said: “The party has never been in a stronger financial position than it is right now and that’s a reflection of our strength and our membership.

“I’m not going to get into the details... but, you know, just be very careful about suggestions that there are problems with the party’s finances, because we depend on donors to donate.

“There are no reasons for people to be concerned about the party’s finances, and all of us need to be careful about not suggesting that there is.

“We’ve got to be careful we don’t reap what we sow, if we have leaks from this body it limits the ability for open free and frank discussion.”

Ms Sturgeon drew attention to two of the routes the SNP – in common with other main political parties – raise money: membership fees and donations.

She also hinted that any loss of public confidence in the SNP's financial processes could damage its ability to raise funds by potentially reducing the number of party members and the willingness of individuals to donate cash.

For the latest set of accounts, for 2021, published on the Electoral Commission's website, membership fees accounted for the bulk of the SNP's income. Some £2.5 million came into the party's coffers through this channel, compared to just over £695,000 from donations.

Like the Conservatives and Labour, over the years, the SNP has benefitted from a range of wealthy individuals willing to dig deep into their large pockets to help out with money and it's clear that whoever is in charge of any party can make a big difference to donations and what donors they attract.

I remember, in the lead up to the Scottish Parliament's 2007 election, being called to a small press "huddle" at the SNP's old, and rather shabby, headquarters in McDonald Road, Edinburgh, where the party's then-leader, a beaming Alex Salmond, announced...

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