One senior member of the ruling body told The Herald: “We have the numbers. There’s not a hope in hell that Peter can survive a no confidence motion.”
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The call for Mr Murrell to “set a date for departure” comes after the SNP’s head of communications at Holyrood quit after being fed false information by party bosses about falling membership numbers.
Murray Foote, the former editor of the Daily Record who joined the SNP operation three years ago, said he was resigning after being let down by party HQ while “acting in good faith”.
READ MORE: SNP media boss quits accusing party HQ of giving him false information
Last month, he issued “agreed party responses” to the media trashing a newspaper report that the party had suffered a loss of 30,000 members.
This week, the party admitted its membership was indeed more than 30,000 below its previously published figure.
In an explosive statement, a senior member of the NEC told The Herald: “We have the numbers. There’s not a hope in hell that Peter can survive a no-confidence motion.
“He should offer his resignation to the NEC by the end of today.
“In all honesty, he’s eight years too late. He should have resigned when Nicola became leader and he should have most certainly announced the departure date when Nicola resigned a few weeks ago.
“When you’re a staff member, and you’re at the epicentre of the story, time and time again, you need to understand that it’s time to go.”
The source said Mr Murrell needed to go for the sake of the SNP.
“The party can’t start afresh unless both the political and operational leadership are renewed.
“The tight grip, they both held on government and party respectively was unhealthy and led to poor decision making.
“Whoever wins the leadership race needs to bin the tight ship approach, widen the circle of trust and start surrounding themselves with people who challenge them, not bag carriers who tell them everything they want to hear.”
READ MORE: Ash Regan team discuss court action to pause SNP leadership contest
Two of the three leadership hopefuls have criticised Mr Murrell in recent weeks. Ash Regan suggested there was a “conflict of interest” in having him oversee the contest.
“Effectively he’s running the contest to replace his wife. That would be like Carrie [Johnson] counting the votes for Boris’s successor, and I think many people would think that would be fairly unusual. I think there is a conflict of interest here.”
Earlier this week, both she and Kate Forbes expressed fears over the integrity of the ballot and called for an independent observer to oversee the election.
Humza Yousaf’s support for the beleaguered party boss has been lukewarm at best.
At a recent campaign stop, the Health Secretary said he regarded Mr Murrell as “an election winner.”
But he added: “One of the first things I will do if I was elected leader of the SNP is speak to Peter and see what his plans are for the future.”
The demand from the NEC came as more and more party colleagues added to the pressure on Mr Murrell.
Party sources briefed the Times overnight, saying he needed to be removed from his post “quickly.”
“Ideally after more than 20 years of service this would normally wait until the autumn conference, but there have been too many mistakes, including the poor organisation surrounding the contest.
“He should be gone in days or weeks now that Nicola has left. If it is to be done then best it is done quickly.”
Another source close to the leadership said: “There is no scenario in which Peter stays: it’s not if, but when. Nicola has gone so he might want to go anyway — a new broom is needed to reorganise the party after losing so many members, the new leader will want to have their own man and he might be forced out quickly.”
Senior figures in the SNP have also expressed upset at Mr Foote’s decision to resign.
Ian Blackford, the former SNP Westminster leader, tweeted: “I am deeply sorry that @murrayf00te believes he has to resign.
“I have had the pleasure of working with an extremely talented, professional, gifted, humble and passionate colleague who it has been a privilege to work with. He should be with us in the journey ahead.
“I thank Murray for his partnership, for his friendship and for the fun we have had serving together. Murray will make a contribution going forward, frankly we need him.”
I am deeply sorry that @murrayf00te believes he has to resign. I have had the pleasure of working with an extremely talented, professional, gifted, humble and passionate colleague who it has been a privilege to work with. He should be with us in the journey ahead. I thank Murray… https://t.co/rpnpSV4yFj
— Ian Blackford 🇺🇦🏴 (@Ianblackford_MP) March 17, 2023
Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP, said Mr Foote’s resignation was an “honourable decision” but that it was the “the source of the lies who should be resigning.”
“Time to stop attacking the women questioning the good faith of those in charge at @theSNP HQ. What better evidence could there be that they are not to be trusted?” she added.
The SNP has been approached for comment.
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