Monday, June 16, 2014

Scottish independence: Better Together file an official complaint with the Electoral Commission over the number of Yes Groups run by SNP members, are they a vehicle for circumvent strict referendum campaign spending limits, if so people have long memories and won’t forgive this when Alex Salmond is defeated

Dear All

One of the things which I regarded as stupid and counter productive in the Scottish independence campaign are the little phoney Yes Groups which SNP members have set up as vote caches.

The Scottish independence referendum is all the poorer for it, as many see these little groups as a vehicle for circumvent strict referendum campaign spending limits.

Alex Salmond, Scotland's 'jolly fat man' and unpopular Nicola Sturgeon rather than speaking out against this, has kept quiet.

And why not, who thinks these people have integrity anyway?

As more and more little Yes groups have came out of the woodwork which are run by SNP members, including MSPs, this has led to Better Together making an official complaint to the Electoral Commission.

They say that Yes Scotland is using 'front' groups.

Should there be an investigation?

The answer is Yes; that being said, the Nationalists should have never gotten themselves into this position in the first place, it was stupid, and it was always going to back fire.

Clumsy, stupid and again highlights what I said right at the start that there is a genuine lack of talent in the Scottish National Party. 

Better Together and Yes Scotland have a £1.5 million spending cap imposed.

Both sides should act in good faith; Scottish people have a right to expect that in this campaign.

Other groups which have entered the debate, officially registered, are each allowed to spend £150,000.

On the Salmond side, the main Yes Scotland campaign offshoots can do what they like as long as they do not coordinate their activities.

Better Together has submitted what it claims is evidence of collusion.

As part of their submission to the Electoral Commission, this includes an online message from Blair Jenkins.

He is the Yes Scotland’s chief executive.

Mr. Jenkins is out of his depth, all of his 'top team' of directors have disappeared, one way or another; most took the option to bale out. 

Anyway it is said that Jenkins has urged people to donate to the pro-separation Business for Scotland group.

Business for Scotland has SNP members in it.

Jenkins has also accused of promoting fundraising for another registered pro-independence group representing students called Generation Yes.

This group also has SNP members in it.

Next up, Better Together raised concerns about a group called Christians for Independence. It is chaired by Dave Thompson, an SNP MSP.

Recently the Pope came out in favour of Scotland remaining part of the UK. Given the SNP's record of attacking the poor, how can anyone who calls themselves a Christian vote for independence under Alex Salmond and unpopular Nicola Sturgeon?

Christians for Independence recently secured a big wad of cash to the tune of £100,000 donation from Brian Souter. He is the Stagecoach tycoon and a leading SNP donor. What is even more remarkable is that Christians for Independence has next to none of a public following.

Blair McDougall, Better Together’s chief executive said:

“The strong suspicion is that those organisations, which are nominally separate organisations from Yes Scotland, are in fact merely vehicles to spend more money and to get around spending limits. It seems the other side are now thumbing their nose at the rules.”

"thumbing their nose at the rules” is that anything like Alex Salmond sticking two fingers up to Clare Lally, the Scottish mother of a disabled child over the Campbell Gunn incident?

Over the fence, there are other groups such as Vote No Borders who do their own thing in the Scottish independence campaign. They were producing their own ads giving people the opportunity to be heard.

There are other pro-UK groups such as Academics Together and Women Together, the main point about these groups is that they cannot spend an extra £150,000 each. The reason for this is, they openly coordinating their activities with the main Better Together campaign.

It seems that you can have some people acting with integrity in this referendum campaign, but it doesn't appear to look like that sense of personal dignity resides in the Nationalist camp.

Yes Scotland in reply said:

"We are adhering strictly to the rules and Electoral Commission guidelines, this is just more mud flinging from the No campaign which is slipping in the polls. They are losing the argument so they want to change the subject."

SNP MSP David Thompson told the press that the claims were “not only untrue but laughable.”

There is an old saying which I really like:

"It is not enough that justice is done, it must be seen to be done"!

An Electoral Commission spokesman said:

“If there has been a complaint, we will consider that and decide what action has to be taken.”

No doubt people will be interested to see if justice is done, and seen to be done.

Personally, I think no matter what the Nationalists do, they still won't win, trust plays a large part in politics, and the SNP leadership of Alex Salmond and unpopular Nicola Sturgeon aren't trusted.

And people have long memories and do not forgive!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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