No Campaign must agree to fair campaign funding

'NO' CAMPAIGN MUST AGREE TO FUNDING FAIRNESS AND TRANSPARENCY

CAMPAIGN MUST BE DRIVEN BY THOSE ABLE TO VOTE IN REFERENDUM

The SNP has challenged the No campaign to agree to tight rules on donations in advance of its launch later this month.

It has been proposed that donations over £500 should only be accepted from individuals on the electoral register in Scotland.

The move means that neither campaign could accept donations from companies or trades unions. The involvement of these organisations would be limited to the 16-week period before the referendum, the time at which they would be legally required to register as a permitted participant in their own name and submit details of their spending to the Electoral Commission.

With the referendum for an Independent Scotland not due until 2014, neither organisation is legally bound by the rules governing donations or where a donor is based.

The proposal would see a framework put in place, with donations of over £500 only accepted from eligible voters living in Scotland.

Yes Scotland has already enforced a £500 maximum donation limit through its website to ensure that donations over this amount cannot be made without establishing whether or not the individual is on the voters roll in Scotland.

SNP Campaign Director Angus Robertson said:

“The campaign must be driven by those able to vote in the referendum. Above all, we want to see fair play and transparency.

“This referendum is about Scotland’s future and it should not be unduly influenced by significant donations from those who won’t have the vote.

"We would hope those saying "No" to the people of Scotland having the political power to decide what's best for their own country, will at least say "Yes" to committing to a fair and open campaign.”

“While everyone is welcome to join the debate, including the London based leaders of the anti-parties, that is as far as external input or influence should extend.

“We are working on the same basis as for UK elections and referendums, where it was decided, quite rightly, that only those on the electoral register should be allowed to donate to political parties. The same approach should be followed for this Scottish vote.

“There is a place for corporate and trades union donations, but these must be on a separate and transparent basis, and conform to the restrictions that will be put in place by the referendum legislation on permitted participants.”

Notes:

Bans on foreign donors were introduced to UK politics by Tony Blair after the 1997 Westminster election, following a series of foreign-donor scandals involving senior Tory Politicians.

The recent Kelly Report (Committee on Standards in Public Life, 13th Report, November 2011) accepted that company donations have been the source of controversy - relating to the domicile of their shareholders - and expressed concern about the lack of transparency in cross-border funding of Scottish politics by the London parties.

As part of its pledge towards an open campaign Yes Scotland will voluntarily be making regular declarations of any major donations in the line with Electoral Commission recommendations and seeks assurances that the No Campaign will do the same.

The initial funding for the launch and establishment of Yes Scotland was provided by the SNP from the bequest of Scotland's late Makar, Edwin Morgan and the donation made by Euro-lottery winners, Chris and Colin Weir.

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