23 August 2023

Former SNP spin doctor who stepped down after row made chief executive

23 August 2023

The former SNP head of communications who stepped down after being misled over membership figures will return to the party as its chief executive.

Murray Foote left the post earlier this year after being given false information by his predecessor Peter Murrell to provide to the media, suggesting the party’s membership was more than 100,000, when it was really around 72,000.

Mr Murrell – the husband of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon – also resigned in response to the scandal, before being arrested the following month in relation to the probe into the party’s finances and released without charge pending further investigation.

Mr Foote, who will start in the role on Monday, said: “I am delighted to take up this important role and look forward to helping build the campaign for independence, both by strengthening the SNP’s headquarter functions and supporting the party’s formidable organisation across Scotland.”

Before taking on the role of the party’s chief spin doctor, Mr Foote was the editor of the Daily Record newspaper, where he famously engineered the Vow – a pledge by UK political leaders to give Scotland more powers in the lead-up to the 2014 independence referendum, which was made on the newspaper’s front page.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said on Twitter: “Murray will bring a great wealth of experience and talent to the role of Chief Exec of @theSNP.

“I’m delighted to have him on board as we look to strengthen @theSNP HQ, empower our incredible activists across Scotland and build a winning campaign for independence.”

SNP business convener Kirsten Oswald said: “Murray was an exceptional candidate in a strong field.

“His managerial experience and skills will enable him to hit the ground running in delivering for SNP members, including leading changes in governance and transparency in party headquarters.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie described Mr Foote as a “continuity candidate”.

She said: “Presented with the chance of a fresh start for the SNP after years of secrecy, Humza Yousaf has instead appointed Murray Foote as the successor to the beleaguered Peter Murrell.

“This is just the latest continuity candidate to be brought back by Humza Yousaf, who is desperately trying to get the band back together ahead of what could be their farewell tour.

“It is clearer than ever that only Scottish Labour will give Scotland the fresh start it needs.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said: “So much for change. The discredited SNP are merely reshuffling the same people into different posts.”

He added: “Nicola Sturgeon and her husband may be in the background but their top team are still running the show in the party under Humza Yousaf.”

The new party head takes the reins at a difficult time for the SNP, with the continuing police probe which has already resulted in the arrest of Mr Murrell along with Ms Sturgeon and then treasurer Colin Beattie.

The party’s electoral fortunes also appear to be on the turn, polls suggest.

Since 2010, the SNP has won every election in Scotland, including securing a majority at Holyrood in 2011 which in turn paved the way for the 2014 referendum.

But recent polls suggest a resurgent Labour Party could catch the SNP, with a Survation survey released on Wednesday showing just two points between the parties in Westminster voting intention.

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