Moore under pressure to “come clean” on Labour influence on consultation


By Martin Kelly

The Scottish National Party has revealed that they plan to submit a Freedom of Information request to the UK Government in order to reveal the extent Labour party online submissions played in the UK Government’s referendum consultation.

In a statement issued today [Friday] the SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson said that he would be submitting Freedom of Information requests and tabling a series of Parliamentary Questions to find out how many responses were submitted via Labour’s website with amended wording and with the pre-set text.

The demands for transparency follow the revelation that over a quarter – 740 out of the 2,857 – responses to the UK Government’s referendum consultation contained the identical text from the Labour Party website, however the total number from the site has yet to emerge.

On BBC Good Morning Scotland yesterday, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said that the 740 responses are “the same as the Labour Party text on their website”.

The admission from Mr Moore followed a statement from the Scotland Office that revealed over two hundred submissions to the UK Government consultation were either duplicates or were anonymous.

Describing the Westminster led process as “discredited”, Mr Robertson said:

“It is high time Michael Moore came clean. He is trying to dictate the terms and timing of Scotland’s referendum from Westminster, on the basis of a discredited consultation and a Labour block vote.

“We only know that over a quarter of the responses to the UK Government consultation were the identical text from the Labour Party website because it was dragged out of Michael Moore during a BBC interview – nowhere does this information appear in the Scotland Office report.

“But how many more came from Labour’s website, with slightly amended wording?”

Mr Robertson repeated calls for an independent analysis of the results from the final report claiming that without scrutiny “it isn’t worth the paper it is written on”.

Mr Robertson made clear that the form used by Labour was not the issue and indeed his party encouraged such participation. However the senior SNP MP insisted that the process had to be subject to robust independent scrutiny if integrity was to be established.

He said:

“The SNP encourage such participation in consultations by political parties and other organisations and individuals, that is not the issue. The issue is that we need to know the full detail of the Scotland Office consultation submissions, and how many in total came from Labour’s website, given that they have clearly swamped the puny number of overall responses. The consultation needs to be independently analysed, properly detailed and broken down by categories.”

Mr Robertson cited the Scottish Government’s own pledge to have their consultation independently analysed and labelled Michael Moore’s rejection of similar scrutiny “a disgrace”.

He added:

“The reality is that the anti-independence parties are in cahoots to try to dictate the terms and timing of Scotland’s referendum from Westminster – they have been partially exposed, and I am now submitting a series of FOI requests and parliamentary questions to find out the real extent of Labour’s swamping of the Tory/Lib Dem consultation.”

An under pressure Michael Moore refused to appear on Newsnight Scotland on Wednesday evening to answer questions on his Government’s consultation.

Newsnet Scotland contacted the Scotland Office on Tuesday and again on Thursday with our own questions relating to the consultation. However to date we have received no reply.