MANCHESTER â€” The Scottish National Party is now the third largest party in British politics, according to figures from one of the party leaders.
Peter Murray, chief executive of the SNP, claimed on Twitter the party has gained more than 20,000 new members in the last five days. This puts its membership at over 45,000, compared to around 44,000 members in the Lib Dems and 35,000 in Ukip.
Blair McDougall, leader of the Better Together, told BuzzFeed News he expected Nicola Sturgeon to become leader of the SNP and Scotland’s first minister. The role opened after former First Minister Alex Salmond resigned after the Yes campaign failed to secure independence for Scotland.
McDougall said Sturgeon’s first challenge would be to balance the party after the wave of incoming nationalists who have just joined.
It is believed Sturgeon would look to shift the party towards the centre-left to reflect her own political leanings but may find this a challenge following the wave of nationalism that built up during the referendum campaign.
The Better Together campaign’s chief said she would have to present a visible shift from Salmond after his recent claims that Scotland could achieve independence through a parliamentary majority. â€œ[This is] crazy stuff that could infect the SNP,â€ he said. â€œShe has to distance herself.â€