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   By Bob Duncan

The SNP has increased its membership by almost a quarter in the last year alone, the party announced today, continuing to soar in marked contrast to the main Westminster parties.

Recent figures published today by the party show that there are now 24,732 members at the end of 2012. This compares to 20,139 at this point last year – a rise of 22.8%.

Last month a UK government study showed that the SNP’s booming membership is bucking the trend of decline in the UK-wide ranks of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories.

The paper, which was published by the House of Commons Library, shows membership of all three of the biggest Westminster parties declining significantly between 2003 and 2011.

SNP membership more than doubled in the same period and, according to today’s figures, has continued to increase sharply throughout 2012.

Between 2003 and 2011, individual party membership of the Tories across the UK declined by almost a third ( 31.5%), while the Lib Dems fell by a similar amount (31.0%), and Labour membership declined by a tenth (10.2%).

Over the same period, SNP membership more than doubled (an increase of 111.6%), before soaring by a further 22.8% in 2012.

Over a slightly longer period, between 1997 and 2011, the report shows that Labour membership fell by more than half (52.3%), demonstrating the degree of the party's long term decline in members.

Welcoming today’s figures, SNP Business Convener Derek Mackay MSP said:

“Membership of the SNP is booming - more than doubling between 2003 and 2011, and increasing by nearly a quarter in 2012 - which is a fantastic sign ahead of the referendum.

“More and more people are responding positively to our record in government and our vision of an independent Scotland, and want to play their part in bringing that about.

“Given that over 143,000 people have already signed the Yes declaration, it is clear that the positive case for Scotland's future is building momentum.

"In contrast to the SNP's rising membership, the plummeting figures  for the Westminster parties shows just how disillusioned people have become with what they have to offer."

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