Calls for Yes and No referendum campaigns to limit cash donations to Scottish voters


By a Newsnet reporter

The SNP has repeated its call for the anti-independence campaign to agree to voluntary donation rules for the referendum campaign, after a poll found that a majority of Scots want donations to be limited to those eligible to vote in the referendum.

The Party has released details of a YouGov opinion poll showing that 53 per cent of people in Scotland believe referendum donations should be controlled in this way, compared to 27% who disagree.

On the day the No campaign launched, Alistair Darling claimed their campaign would be ‘completely transparent’.  However, he has promised only to abide by the minimum requirements set by the Electoral Commission on political donations, and the source of the No campaign’s funding remains shrouded in mystery.

The challenge by the SNP follows a report in the Sunday Herald which revealed a No Campaign dinner comprised of few Scottish figures but mainly London-based guests, charging £150-a-head.  On the same day Labour MSP Richard Baker, speaking for the No campaign, admitted that ‘Better Together’ would accept donations from outside Scotland.

Between now and summer 2014, when the regulated period begins, there will be no official limits on donations.

However, Yes Scotland has already enforced a maximum £500 limit on its website – with larger donations only accepted after establishing whether the person is on the voters’ roll in Scotland – and has called on the anti-independence parties to do likewise.

SNP Campaign Director Angus Robertson has questioned how Scottish Labour could feel comfortable taking part in a campaign funded by London Tories and their associates.

Commenting, Mr Robertson said:

“This dinner reveals all about the nature of the No Campaign – it is a Tory-led organisation, receiving significant funding from outside Scotland.

“The Tory-led anti-independence campaign is refusing to listen to what the people of Scotland want – as the YouGov poll demonstrates 53 per cent of people in Scotland believe donations should be limited to those eligible to vote in the referendum.”

Mr Robertson also hit out at Labour’s decision to refuse to consider a second option on the ballot paper and added:

“… only recently a Unite survey revealed two thirds of Labour’s biggest trade union backers Unite want a devo max option on the ballot paper in 2014.

“The splits and divisions within the anti-independence parties are failing the people of Scotland who want a debate and referendum made in Scotland – not the No Campaign’s negative approach which refuses to respect the voices of people across the country.”

Mr Robertson concluded:

“The decision on the future of Scotland is rightly a matter for people in Scotland.  As such, it is only common sense that major donations to either campaign should originate in Scotland.

“Yes Scotland is completely transparent about where its financial support comes from – in stark contrast to the Tory-led anti-independence campaign.”

Head of Yes Scotland Blair Jenkins and member of Better Together Richard Baker interviewed on funding and other matters