Company with links to No campaign handed £30,000 of public cash


  By Martin Kelly
The company of the man who jointly founded Better Together has been paid £30,000 of taxpayer’s cash by the UK Government.
Engine PR received the cash from the Cabinet Office Devolution Team for ‘communications support’ as part of the drive against a Yes vote in September.

However it has emerged that a partner in Engine PR is Craig Harrow.  Harrow is the convener of the Scottish Lib Dems and also a director of the anti-independence campaign Better Together.

Craig Harrow was also the election agent for Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander, now a key figure in the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government.  The Edinburgh office of Engine PR is next to the Scottish Office’s Edinburgh HQ.

The revelation has prompted calls from the SNP for an inquiry into how public cash had ended up in a company run by a leading Better Together official.

The revelations come on top of growing calls for a secret independence survey commissioned by the UK Government at a cost of over £46,000, to be published.  The survey, carried out by polling company Ipsos MORI, is rumoured to show a significant increase in support for independence.

The Scottish National Party today called on the leaders of the No campaign to confirm if they have seen the taxpayer-funded opinion poll.
The Cabinet Office website reveals that they commissioned polling from Ipsos Mori on: “Market research on attitudes in Scotland towards Scottish independence”.

The SNP has said that the failure of the UK Government to publish the poll raises questions regarding what the No campaign has to hide.
Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:
“The UK Government has spent over £46,500 of the public’s money on this polling. Presumably David Cameron and George Osborne will know about the results – it was effectively their poll – but they must come clean on whether they have, and commit to publishing it in full.
“David Cameron is apparently visiting Scotland this week, and he will have to answer these questions when he is here.”

Ms Fabiani questioned whether the findings of the taxpayer funded poll had been passed to leading Better Together figures.
She added: “As for Alistair Darling, the question is whether he is party to the information in this poll? If he has seen it, it’s clearly unacceptable that a political campaign has been given access to taxpayer-funded research that is being kept hidden from the public.
“And if he hasn’t, it shows how out of the loop Mr Darling has become.

“They could clear up the whole mess right now by doing the right thing and publishing the poll right away.”

The MSP described the survey as proof that the anti-independence campaign was being controlled by Downing Street.
Criticising the secrecy, she said: “That Westminster is so desperate to hide the results of this poll speaks volumes. Polls show that the momentum is with the Yes campaign.
“No matter how bad the results are for the No camp, David Cameron must face up to the uncomfortable truths in the poll and ensure that his government publishes the results in full.”