SNP commit to publishing membership numbers twice yearly in transparency reform deal
The SNP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) voted unanimously to approve a raft of policies as part of a major review of its internal governance, national secretary Lorna Finn and president Michael Russell told members in an email.
Stuart McDonald, the party’s national treasurer, was also said to have committed to bringing “forward new proposals” aimed at improving the party’s financial management.
The email said the terms of the report meant the party had:
- Accepted the statement on governance that we tabled
- Approved the publication of membership numbers twice yearly
- Agreed that the national secretary and national treasurer need more support
- Welcomed the intention of the national treasurer to bring forward new proposals on democratic and financial scrutiny of the party’s finances and on ensuring better provision of information to the NEC
- Moved towards appointing people to the panels dealing with complaints and disciplinary cases in order to improve that process
- Agreed to the first meeting of the revived National Council by August 31 and to setting a regular pattern for National Councils thereafter
The statement on governance referenced in the first bullet point read: “In its governance, the party will at all times observe the highest standards of propriety including impartiality, integrity and objectivity in relation to the stewardship of party funds, and the management and conduct of party business by elected office bearers, the NEC and committee members, branch delegates, local branch officers, all members of the party and staff at every level.
“The party will ensure its governance culture, subject to data protection and issues of confidentiality where appropriate, is characterised by transparency, candour and openness to critical questioning and review.
“The party will at all times act lawfully and seek to reflect in its own operations the standards by which it seeks to hold others to account in its wider political role.
“The NEC will be accountable to the party membership for upholding good standards of governance and for ensuring the same in all interactions between staff, party members and the public.”
The email, seen by The National, added: “The group is now moving on – by means of weekly meetings, a detailed examination of risks and their mitigation or resolution and consulting external expert advice where required – to identify the key issues which it believes will need action, including areas which may require changes to our constitution and rules.
“We will give an interim report to the NEC in June and we will then produce a summary of issues and possible solutions which we will consult on with party members before drawing up our final recommendations in time for Annual National Conference in October. We also hope to use National Council in August to seek input and views.
“We will give more details after the NEC in June but we are already receiving unprompted suggestions from branches and constituencies and those can still be sent to us via HQ. You can also raise these issues with members of the group.
“As a group we believe that the work we are doing – which is not about completely re-organising the party but instead about improving what exists, and ensuring that we meet best practice in all our work – will result in positive steps forward which will strengthen the ability of the SNP to campaign successfully for independence.”
It comes after a major row within the SNP over transparency and their financial governance.
Former top SNP spin doctor Murray Foote quit the party earlier this year, as did its former chief executive Peter Murrell, claiming he had been given flase numbers by party HQ.
Murrell was later arrested then released without charge as part of an ongoing police investigation into the party’s finances.