SNP is 'absolutely, categorically' solvent and in 'robust health', insists Ian Blackford

The SNP’s former Westminster leader has insisted the party is “absolutely, categorically” solvent amid concerns it is running out of money.

Ian Blackford said the SNP is in “robust health” financially and can meet all its obligations and liabilities going forward.

Colin Beattie, the party’s treasurer, reportedly told its national executive committee (NEC) that the SNP was "having difficulty in balancing the books due to the reduction in membership and donors" and that a potential by-election in Rutherglen & Hamilton West would put it under further pressure.

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The NEC agreed to hold a governance and transparency review following a meeting on Saturday, with forensic auditors potentially due to be appointed.

Ian BlackfordIan Blackford
Ian Blackford

It comes as police investigate the party’s finances in a probe which has involved former chief executive Peter Murrell being arrested then released without charge.

First Minister Humza Yousaf was forced to deny the SNP was close to bankruptcy after reports emerged from the NEC meeting.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Blackford said these reports had been “highly selective”, adding: “Absolutely, categorically, the SNP is solvent, the finances are in balance. We will be able to meet our obligations, our liabilities going forward.

"Everybody knows there has been a dip in SNP membership. I’d like to think that we can grow the membership over the course of the coming period, but when all is said and done, we’ve still got over 70,000 members – members that are paying subscriptions – donations coming in, parliamentarians making contributions.

"As would be normal, we’d be looking at how we can raise additional funds as well. The party will be ready to meet all its liabilities, and will certainly be ready to meet the challenge, if it comes, of a by-election in Rutherglen over the course of the coming period.”

He added: “The party, financially, is in robust health in terms of meeting its obligations.”

Mr Yousaf previously told journalists: “We’re not close to bankruptcy. This is something I’ve read in some social media circles but, no, the party is solvent.”

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Questioned on the review, he said: “We will ensure we have external input, particularly around the issues of financial oversight.

“So, that may well be forensic accountants, it may well be some other means and method – but I think around the additional financial oversight, external input is really important.”

He said an interim report on the review is expected in June, with a full report due in autumn and the latter will be made public.

Mr Yousaf said the party is “desperate” to appoint auditors. Last week it emerged he was unaware before becoming leader that the previous auditors resigned more than six months ago.

He added: “I’m not concerned about what they might find. I’m concerned about the fact that, from my perspective, we could improve our governance and our transparency and I’m concerned about the fact that in six months we haven’t been able to find auditors.”



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