The SNP have launched a membership drive as they face a £1million bill to fight the General Election, according to reports.

The party have asked all of its members to recruit five friends or relatives to help boost its coffers in a pitch to boost its ranks following Jonh Swinney becoming leader earlier this month.

Over the last two years the SNP have seen a drop in the numbers of members it has, falling from 103,884 in December 2021 to 69,235 by the same time in 2023.

There is also speculation that the re-arrest and charge of the party’s former chief executive Peter Murrell over alleged fraud and embezzlement last month may caused another drop in numbers.

And last week, the Scottish Greens revealed to the Herald on Sunday they had seen a membership surge with people - including disillusioned SNP members - joining their party.

Now senior SNP figures are hopeful Mr Swinney’s coronation as leader could help bring calm to the party and reverse their fortunes.

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With the general election looming this year and a Scottish Parliament election in 2026, the SNP will need a significant sum for its campaign fund.

In 2021 the party spent a record £1.4m on the campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections - more than any other party.

General election spend could be more than £1m this year with the SNP spending just over that in 2019, £1.6m in 2017 and £1.4m in 2015.

The Herald: First Minister John Swinney and his deputy Kate ForbesFirst Minister John Swinney and Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes.  Photo PA.

An email sent this week to all SNP members urged them to help by recruiting five relatives or friends to the party, according to a report in the Sunday Mail.

It said: “The election of SNP leader John Swinney has marked the beginning of a new chapter for our party with hope and optimism at its heart.

“Unlike other parties who are backed by big business, we rely on our members to help get our message into communities across Scotland.

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“You can do your bit this week by inviting five of your friends and family members to join the SNP by forwarding this email to them.”

The party’s latest accounts show an £800,000 deficit.

No living person has donated to the SNP for more than a year with the total number of donations from companies or individuals registered under Humza Yousaf’s leadership totalling £77,072.59.

It has £60,000 to repay Mr Murrell after he gave the party a £107,000 loan in 2021, and another £40,000 loan from Bank of Scotland from 2017 is still outstanding, according to the election watchdogs’ register.

Last year the SNP reacted furiously to a Sunday Mail article which revealed a drop in 30,000 members which the party wrongly claimed was inaccurate.

It led to the resignation of Murray Foote as communications chief - who later returned as chief executive - and the resignation of Mr Murrell.

An SNP spokeswoman would not confirm the party’s latest membership figures but confirmed it stood at 69,235 in December.

Asked if the latest membership drive was to help raise funds for the next election the spokeswoman told the Sunday Mail: “As the largest political party by far in Scotland, we encourage everyone who believes in our mission of delivering for people across the country by building a better future as an independent country to join the SNP.”