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Wings Over Scotland

Follow the money

Posted on January 30, 2013 by

We’ve already offered our opinion on the Electoral Commission’s report on the question for the independence referendum. The Commission also made two other main recommendations: that both sides should provide information on the consequences of their preferred outcome (something the Unionist side has steadfastly refused to do until now), and that the campaign spending limits should be higher than the Scottish Government’s proposed figures, at £1.5m per side for politicial parties, and the same for other organisations – a total of up to £6m.

The former will be intriguing to watch, but for now let’s talk quickly about the money.

We have to admit we were always baffled by the SNP’s advocacy of a lower amount. The Nats are flush with cash, having received £2m from two large donations since the 2011 election, whereas the Unionist parties, especially Labour, are broke.

But hold on a minute – “Labour”? What about “Scottish Labour”?

We’re continually told that the North British branch of the once-socialist party is an autonomous entity, ironically independent of the London leadership despite wishing to deny the Scottish people the same status. That claim is – and let’s be extremely generous for the sake of argument here – highly dubious at best. But if it’s true, where’s the impoverished “Scottish Labour” going to find the £834,000 the Electoral Commission says it should be able to spend?

(The full breakdown of the amounts for parties is SNP £1.34m, Labour £0.83m, Tories £0.4m, Lib Dems £0.2m, Greens £0.15m, others £0.15m.)

The truth is that “Scottish Labour” isn’t even a little bit independent. While it raises some money in Scotland, it sends it to London and gets back whatever London can spare. And that puts the party – alongside the others in the No camp – in a tricky pickle: either they can scrabble around for Scottish money, or they can be seen to be being funded from England.

It’s easy to see why the No campaign has refused to match YesScotland’s pledge to restrict all donations from outside Scotland to a maximum of £500. But even if they’re happy to be seen as a puppet movement funded from England, will the London parties be willing to throw such sums of money at Scotland with an expensive general election looming just a few short months later?

The SNP, meanwhile, can spend its entire campaigning allocation and still have almost a million quid in the bank from its two big bequests alone. We can’t help but suspect that its call for lower limits was another cry from the briar patch.

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    12 to “Follow the money”

    1. Dcanmore says:

      I think the worry for SNP/YES is the Unionists ability to raise funds from all quarters of the UK when the need arises. The Labour Party could bring in Lamont’s ‘Big Beasts’ Blair and Brown to tickle mega-rich people for donations such as Alan Sugar, J K Rowling and Lord Sainsbury. All they know is they are donating to the UK Labour Party, with some funds being diverted to SLAB for the NO campaign. Needless to say the Unions and industry that has interests in Scotland will be squeezed for cash too (would BAE make large donation?). The fight to keep the union in 2014 and gain Westminster in 2015 will be inclusive targets for Labour funded from all UK resources at hand. All Westminster parties will be looking at US style fundraising for their parties in the future and I have no doubt that £6m could be raised quite easily for the NO campaign across two major UK parties. If they succeed then that expenditure will flood the MSM with welcome advertising revenue. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
      I doubt YES/SNP could match anywhere near £6m in that time frame hence the financial restrictions to encourage a level playing field. They don’t want a repeat of history where a monumental Scottish decision is swayed by copious amounts of English cash once again.

    2. AnneDon says:

      Well, the unionists do have those £150-per-head dinners in the Home Counties filling their coffers.  Are accounts actually published by their Scottish branches?

      NB: I’m struck by how similar the funding of Labour in Scotland is to the Barnett funding – we send them our money, they decide what we get back.  No wonder they’re so comfortable with it! 

    3. Cuphook says:

      The BBC have this story on their home page and opened it up to comments. As you can imagine, the comments are the usual ill-informed bilge. I’m aware that the BBC do this deliberately, but I don’t think that reading these racist rants from keyboard droolers will make anyone a No voter. 

    4. Cuphook says:

      The BBC has this story on their home page and opened it up to comments. As you can imagine, the comments are the usual ill-informed bilge. I’m aware that the BBC do this deliberately, but I don’t think that reading these racist rants from keyboard droolers will make anyone a No voter. 

    5. gerry parker says:

      Cuphook, entirely agree, the level of misunderstanding is amazing.

    6. Hamish Henderson says:

      Just read a comment on the BBc home page from one Spudeeelad. This person has a tenuous grip on reality and the workings of democracy as he appears to believe that the SNP only have control of the Scottish Parliament because of the number of their MP’s. (sic) The cunning bastards!
      It also appears that the SNP didn’t get any MP’s (sic) in Glasgow Bad news for Nicola then.
      I can only imagine that these cunning YES people will claim victory when they get a majority of the Votes. The devious swine. This is probably why they also have a chap called Blair heading up their team who are determined to break up the UK. Are there no depths to which they will not descend.

    7. annie says:

      Does anyone know what Ian Davidson or George Foulkes has to say about the the EC recommendations?

    8. Ghengis says:

      um .. the NO camp have already spent millions on their campaign in the form of their anti Scottish mouthpiece: the dubious BBC.

    9. Doug Daniel says:

      It’s hilarious how easily the SNP are playing the unionist parties. They know that if they say one thing, the unionists will say exactly the opposite. So they just say the opposite of what they want. “No, we don’t want to sign up to everything the EC say beforehand.” “Well we at BetterTogether will absolutely confirm NOW that we will follow the EC advice to the letter.”

      *EC tell unionists to stop being dicks about the terms of independence post-referendum*

      “Erm… We didn’t mean that, you can’t make us do it.”

      That’s the bit I’m really interested in. They’ve made such a big deal about making the EC the “referee”. Well, the referee is telling you to start acting like grown ups and cooperate with the Scottish Government, so you’ll have to do it.

    10. Adrian B says:

      I completely agree Doug, the level of basic comprehension that better together have defies belief. Headless chickens springs to mind.

    11. Boorach says:

      I sincerely hope that the official ‘NO’ lot in SLAB won’t be too in ungenerous with Alan Grogan’s LFI group when they come to doling out the campaign funds!! (lol)

    12. Andrew S. says:

      l’ve raised this before, and perhaps it’s worth raising again.  If the vote delivers a majority for “YES” and Scotland gains its independence, doesn’t that mean that all the SLab/SCon/SLib have to be disbanded and restarted as truly Scottish parties?  How could any country permit political parties to operate using finance from a “foreign” country? Is this the doomsday scenario for SLab/SCon/SLib?  I’ve no idea how this will affect the spending for the BT campaign.  It seems to me to be a fundamental issue though.  Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas so the SLab/SCon/SLib can’t do anything other than spend, spend, spend on the NO campaign.  If they lose they’ll be heading out of existence anway. 

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