HOLYROOD authorities have reprimanded a group of SNP MSPs for breaking rules which forbid referendum campaigning on Scottish Parliament property.
Scotland on Sunday can reveal that the MSPs, who took part in an event backed by Yes Scotland on ground owned by the Parliament, have been told that “a repeat incident will not be tolerated”.
The action was taken after SNP MSPs joined activists for the launch of English Scots for Yes, a campaigning group which is part of the Yes campaign.
Among the MSPs who took part were the Education Secretary, Mike Russell, who was born in Kent, and the Commonwealth Games minister, Shona Robison, who was born in Redcar.
According to the Facebook page of the new group, it has been established “for anyone who supports the goal of Scottish independence, but especially if you are English”.
Activists from the group met MSPs on the paved area beside the parliament’s main entrance at the foot of the Royal Mile. Their decision to hold the event on the parliament’s grounds prompted Holyrood’s chief executive Paul Grice to write to the leaders of both the Yes and the No organisations to remind them that the parliament is a no-go zone for campaigning.
Grice’s letter stated that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SCPB) – the group of MSPs responsible for the running of the parliament – had given a “commitment” that the use of its resources and facilities, including the paved area at the front of the building, must not be used to for referendum campaigning.
A statement released by the Scottish Parliament added: “The SPCB’s clear policy is no referendum campaign-related activity is permitted on the parliamentary campus. It has been conveyed to the members involved that a repeat incident will not be tolerated.”
Scotland on Sunday understands that Grice acted after the issue was raised by the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.
Members of the pro-Union parties were irritated that the event had been allowed to take place on parliamentary property shortly after Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems had been refused permission to hold a press conference announcing their plans for more powers after a No vote at Holyrood.
A Conservative party source said: “We asked the Parliamentary authorities recently if we could hold a pro-UK event at Holyrood. They said they’d rather not and so we agreed to go elsewhere.
“It’s typical arrogance from the SNP. They think they own Scotland, and they think they own the Parliament.”
A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: “We look forward to receiving the chief executive’s letter, and of course will always abide by its terms. In this case, the launch of the English Scots for Yes group took place outside.”