Quick Questions For Colin

TO: Colin Beattie MSP, National Treasurer, SNP
DATE: 28 October 2020

Dear Colin,

I note that today you’ve sent an email to SNP members on the contentious topic of the party’s supposedly “ring-fenced” referendum campaign fund, which we’ve learned for the first time today has a grand official name – the Referendum Appeal Fund (which from here on we’ll call the RAF for short).

The email also contains some rather offensive implied smears about my website and myself, but I’m quite used to being abused on the internet so I’ll let that slide. As we’re both on the side of Scottish independence, rather than getting involved in a tit-for-tat slanging match I thought I’d try to reach a constructive consensus.

I notice that in your email you invite people who have “any questions” on the subject to contact you without hesitation, and while I’m not a member of the party I believe I do speak for a considerable number of people who are, so it would likely also save you a lot of tedious copy-and-pasting if you replied publicly to me as their representative.

(And because, y’know, if you don’t then you’ll probably get about a thousand individual emails from members containing the text below anyway, which doesn’t seem like a productive use of anyone’s time.)

My first question is a simple one, and if the proposal it contains is adopted it would render all the others moot and draw the matter to an immediate and highly satisfactory conclusion, so I hope this will only take a minute.

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(1) The SNP currently owns the old Yes Scotland brand, website and company, which is still live. It appears to be controlled by the party solicitor Scott Martin.

To avoid any future confusion, why doesn’t the SNP simply transfer the entire RAF to the account of Yes Scotland, and divert any future donations through the yes.scot website to the company’s account rather than the SNP’s?

This would provide a visible separation between referendum funds and SNP political funds. Anyone whose primary interest was independence could donate money to Yes Scotland through the yes.scot site for that purpose, while anyone chiefly motivated by Queer Theory, thoughtcrime, stopping people from getting two-for-one pizzas and imprisoning former First Ministers for crimes they didn’t commit could donate to the SNP through its own existing donations page, located here.

There would be no reason for any noticeable admin costs – Yes Scotland would have only one source of income (donations), no outgoings (until such times as the imminent second referendum, naturally), and Mr Martin’s only task would be to file a simple short statement of its account balance every year, which he has to do now anyway. It seems an obvious, elegant and complete solution.

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Should the above proposal be inexplicably rejected, the following questions arise:

(2) If the RAF is indeed ring-fenced and available for use “at a moment’s notice”, why does the SNP not simply denote it as such in the accounts and avoid all this confusion and bad feeling, as suggested today by senior SNP councillor Chris McEleny?

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(3) Why, for that matter, does it not publish it as a live running total on the yes.scot site, as it did with the 2017 ref.scot fundraiser? Is there a reason it should be secret? Surely it would boost the morale of the entire Yes movement to know beyond any doubt that it had a healthy fighting fund ready for instant deployment.

(4) How did the money in the RAF come to be “woven through” the accounts in various unexplained places, given that it all comes from only two sources – the 2017 ref.scot fundraiser and the 2019-present day yes.scot one – and the SNP apparently knows to the exact pound how much is in it? Why would all of those funds not be recorded under the same category?

(5) The yes.scot website used to state that all donations would be used to produce a book called “An Independent Scotland: Household Guide”, to be distributed to every household in Scotland. It now contains simply a generic statement that donations will be used to fund “Yes campaigners” with “materials”.

Are all donations through yes.scot still being directed to the RAF? If so, which area of the SNP’s accounts would they be included under? Donations? Prepayments? Some other? If they’re NOT being directed to the RAF, on what date did this change?

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(6) What was the balance of the RAF on 31 December 2017, 31 December 2018 and 31 December 2019?

(7) The SNP’s total net current assets according to the 2019 accounts are just under £272,000. How then can the party claim to have a fund of almost £600,000 available to spend “at a moment’s notice”? Is it being held “off the books” in some way?

(8) And finally, given that questions were being asked about this money as far back as January, why has the SNP taken so long to issue even this rather weak attempt at an explanation, allowing the matter to fester damagingly for months?

I look forward to your response.

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Regards,

Stuart Campbell
Editor
Wings Over Scotland

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