Hand £2m to Yes Scotland camp, SNP urged

Euromillions lottery winners Colin and Christine Weir. Picture: Phil WilkinsonEuromillions lottery winners Colin and Christine Weir. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Euromillions lottery winners Colin and Christine Weir. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: The SNP is facing renewed calls to hand over donations of almost £2 million for the independence war chest to the cross-party Yes Scotland campaign.

A £1m donation from Scottish Euromillions lottery winners Christine and Colin Weir that was earmarked for the pro-independence campaign two years ago and a £918,000 bequest from Scotland’s late former Makar, Edwin Morgan, have yet to be handed over by the SNP despite repeated demands for them to do so.

Leading figures in Yes Scotland, including campaign chairman and former Labour MP Dennis Canavan and Greens leader Patrick Harvie said they were unaware what had happened to the cash.

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Last night Colin Fox, the leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, said he would raise the issue at a meeting of Yes Scotland’s ruling advisory board tomorrow.

Fox, a former MSP, said he was concerned the SNP was using the cash for its own campaigning rather than handing it to Yes Scotland, which includes the Scottish Greens and SSP as well as non-party figures such as former BBC executive Blair Jenkins.

The SNP funded Yes Scotland’s start-up and staffing costs of £342,797, including the campaign’s high-profile and glitzy launch in 2012.

But an SNP spokeswoman said Yes Scotland had been “self-financing since”, adding “that will continue to be the case” with no plans to transfer the sum of almost £2m from the Weirs and the late Makar.

The row comes amid concerns the SNP is bypassing Yes Scotland and increasingly running its own campaign, which includes a plan to hand out five editions of a party newspaper to 2.5 million households in the run-up to the referendum.

Scotland on Sunday previously revealed the SNP had been criticised for using the Yes logo on the front page of first edition of the party newspaper without mentioning it was an SNP-only publication until one of the last pages.

Now Fox has called on the SNP to release the cash from the Weirs and Morgan to boost Yes Scotland’s campaign coffers. Fox said: “I have a few questions about this and there will be discussions about it. If it’s not raised by anyone else then certainly yes I’ll bring it up at the board meeting. I don’t know when we are due to met the £1m from Edwin Morgan’s bequest and the donations from the Weirs.

“There has been a concern that using a Yes Scotland logo on the front of newspaper with no mention until much later that it is the SNP’s can rub people up the wrong way.”

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Yes Scotland revealed it had raised £1.7m in April last year, while the unionist campaign Better Together said it had £2.7m in its coffers at the end of 2013.

However, Yes Scotland is yet to publish details of its latest financial backers, with a campaign spokesman saying the group “will be making an announcement in due course”.

Last night a spokesman Yes Scotland spokesman refused to discuss the cash from the lottery winners and late Makar.

An SNP spokeswoman said: “As was publicised a year ago, the SNP met the start-up costs of Yes Scotland, and it has been self-financing since September 2012, which was always the intention. The position remains the same – Yes Scotland has been self financing since September 2012, and that will continue to be the case.”

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