THE Electoral Commission recommends much higher spending limits than proposed by the Scottish Government, but lower than those suggested by the pro-Union “Better Together” campaign. For the two main campaigns - Better Together and Yes Scotland - it says they should be able to spend up to £1.5m in the 16 week ‘regulated’ period prior to the referendum.
The main parties should get a share based on the percentage of votes they won at the 2011 general election. The exception is the Greens who get a higher limit based on the £150,000 ceiling available to all registered campaigners.
Scottish National Party: £1,344,000
Scottish Labour: £834,000
Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party £396,000
Scottish Liberal Democrats £201,000
Scottish Green Party £150,000
This approach produces a total cumulative value of limits of £3,150,000 on the ‘Yes’ side, and £4,200,000 on the ‘No’ side (including the £1.5m limits for the designated lead campaigners) - a £63,000 advantage to the ‘Yes’ side.
Outside bodies - like Trade Unions and business groups - should be able to spend £150,00 each during the period. The Commission rejects the Scottish Government’s proposed limit of £50,000. It declares: “The evidence tends to indicate that the Scottish Government’s proposal of £50,000 could significantly restrict the ability of non-party campaigners to put their arguments to voters across Scotland over a 16 week referendum period.”