ASH Regan and Kate Forbes have demanded the SNP’s chief executive reveal exactly how many members the party has. 

In a joint letter, the two candidates called for transparency from Peter Murrell, the husband of Nicola Sturgeon.

However, the party has rebuffed the two potential leaders, saying they won't reveal any figures until after the contest. 


In the letter, Ms Regan - writing on behalf of both campaigns - said the HQ boss had a responsibility “to ensure that the leadership election process is transparent, fair, and equitable.”


It’s not clear how many members the party has. Over the weekend, the Mail on Sunday suggested around 50,000 activists had deserted the SNP in the last four years, with numbers dropping to around 78,000. 

The SNP has refused to confirm or deny those figures. 

Ms Regan said knowing how many people were eligible to vote, and knowing how many ballots had been sent out electronically and by post was “crucial to fostering trust and confidence among the candidates, their campaign teams, and the party members who are 

The former community safety minister said the two teams had previously reached out to the National Secretary, Lorna Finn, with a request for this information. 

The lack of response meant they felt the need to “address this matter through a formal open letter.”

She added: “As the Chief Executive Officer of the SNP, it is your responsibility to ensure that the leadership election process is transparent, fair, and equitable. Providing this information is crucial to fostering trust and confidence among the candidates, their campaign teams, and the party members who are participating in the election.

“We kindly request that you respond to this letter and share the requested information as soon as possible.

"Your cooperation in this matter will not only demonstrate the SNP's commitment to democratic values and principles but also help maintain a strong and united party during this leadership contest.”

READ MORE: SNP race sliding into 'paranoia and mistrust' amid vote rigging row

Following the publication of the open letter, Neil Gray, the campaign manager for Mr Yousaf said the Health Secretary’s campaign team had “also asked for the figures to be published and sought assurances this would be done as soon as possible."

Earlier this week, former health minister, Alex Neil took to Twitter to say the party needed to "stop any chance of the election being rigged."

"Keep an eye out for past members, lapsed members having their votes cast for them. 

“Also the party members are entitled to know exactly how many people are entitled to vote in this election. No more deceit.”

The SNP released a brief and terse response to the letter from Ms Forbes and Ms Regan.

They said: "Candidates have already been made aware that responsibility for the leadership election does not rest with any member of staff." 

The party added that the number of votes, percentage share, and turnout would all be published at the conclusion of the contest. 


Ms Regan has previously suggested there is “a conflict of interest” in having Mr Murrell oversee the process:

“Effectively he’s running the contest to replace his wife. That would be like Carrie [Johnson] counting the votes for Boris’s successor, and I think many people would think that would be fairly unusual. I think there is a conflict of interest here."

It comes as the Scottish Sun revealed that Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior aide is working on the Yousaf campaign. 

The paper quotes an insider who claims Special Adviser Liz Lloyd “is putting Nicola’s wishes into practice.”

"Liz is keeping out of the public eye - she’s not likely to be seen at Humza’s media calls, for example, but she is providing advice.”

Another source said: “SNP HQ is panicking about Kate winning. This is more evidence of that.”

Ms Lloyd was Ms Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff between 2015 and 2021, before becoming her Strategic Policy and Political Adviser in August 2021.

According to the paper, Ms Lloyd has been working for the Scottish Government at the same time as helping with Mr Yousaf’s campaign.

This is allowed under rules for special advisers - as long as an adviser is doing the campaign work in their own time.

Commenting on the letter, the Scottish Tory Chairman Craig Hoy said the missive exposed how "bitter the SNP leadership contest has now become."

He added: "The fact that two of the three candidates seeking to replace Nicola Sturgeon are openly questioning their party’s internal election process is utterly astonishing and reveals the deep levels of mistrust within the SNP.

“While supporters of Humza Yousaf will doubtless claim this is Ash Regan and Kate Forbes getting their excuses in early – in true Donald Trump style – there is a serious point here.

“Not only do the candidates deserve full transparency – but so do the Scottish public, given that whoever wins will be First Minister, as well as SNP leader.

“Peter Murrell and the SNP high command must urgently allay fears over the integrity of the process to elect his wife’s successor.”