SNP politicians were last night angered that the UK government has spent almost £300,000 of public money on private polling on Scottish independence that has not been published.
New figures show the Cabinet Office has spent £299,100 on Ipsos Mori polls examining Scottish attitudes towards independence since last year. The UK government has also spent a further £85,783 on communications support for its devolution team this year.
The government has employed Engine Partners UK LLP, a PR company with offices in London, Edinburgh and New York. SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP: “The scale of the taxpayer money the Westminster government has spent on these secret polls for the No campaign is utterly scandalous. What is it that is in these polls that the No campaign is so terrified of the public finding out?
“It speaks volumes that the Westminster government is so desperate to keep the results of their secret polls under wraps. “The suspicion will inevitably be that they might also be behind the anti-independence campaign’s recent attempt at rebranding and David Cameron’s increasingly panicked visits to Scotland. And there remain questions over the UK government’s decision to hire a marketing company run by a director of the No campaign and a Lib Dem ally of Alistair Carmichael.
“Taxpayers in Scotland have unknowingly paid nearly £400,000 for private communication support and for these polls, so clearly have a right to know what they say. The Westminster government and the No campaign cannot continue to hide the truth – they must publish the polls and come clean on what they are hiding from people in Scotland.”
A UK government spokesman said: “These costs have been put into the public domain via the Cabinet Office website. It’s normal practice to carry out this sort of polling, especially around an issue as important as the referendum.
“We are carrying out this research to understand how best to identify and communicate with our audiences.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has not commissioned any opinion polls or surveys on independence since 2007.”