Sturgeon: 'No legal ability' to impose restrictions says host
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The Scottish National Party (SNP) has come under scrutiny over how they have handled more than £650,000 worth of donations received through several crowdfunding campaigns between 2017 and last year. Many accused the party of misappropriating the funds raised ostensibly for a future independence campaign, with the SNP treasurer admitting the money had been spent, but “an amount equivalent” would go towards paying for independence campaigning in future. The party had claimed the funds were “ringfenced” for a referendum campaign, but concerns were raised when the party’s accounts showed it had less than £100,000 in cash in the bank.
Police Scotland is now assessing a complaint against the SNP connected with the controversy.
They have yet to open a full investigation.
Following the scandal, though, electoral law experts and democracy campaigners have called for a rule change to make it easier for donors to track how their money is spent by political parties.
This is not the first time the SNP finds itself in trouble because of funding.
In 2018, donations to Ms Sturgeon’s party dried up completely for the first time since the party came to power.
Figures from the Electoral Commission showed that between January and March the party received no contributions at all.
In contrast the Green Party banked £1,800 and the Women’s Equality Party received £10,000 in the same period.
Instead, the SNP had to rely on the UK Treasury for its funding through “Short” money – a sum that goes to opposition parties at Westminster to help them hire researchers and hold the Government to account.
The SNP received £192,746 in this type of funding in the first quarter of the year.
It is not unusual for political parties to go through lean periods.
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Donors are usually tapped for cash during campaigns and party managers do not like to press too hard at other times in case the money dries up when it is needed.
Nevertheless, it was back in the third quarter of 2005 that the SNP last went three months with no donations at all.
Maurice Golden, of the Scottish Conservatives, said at the time: “In the last week we’ve seen the hardcore nationalists turn against Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP following the launch of its independence blueprint.
“Now it seems the big-money backers who’ve lined SNP pockets for so long are also turning away.”
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After the SNP won an emphatic victory in the Holyrood election last month, Ms Sturgeon told Prime Minister Boris Johnson a second independence referendum is “a matter of when – not if”.
During a phone call with Mr Johnson, the First Minister pledged to work with the UK Government on steering the country through the Covid pandemic towards recovery.
The SNP said the leaders also agreed on the importance of both governments working together “closely and constructively” to make the forthcoming UN climate conference in Glasgow a success.
But a party spokeswoman added: “The FM also re-iterated her intention to ensure that the people of Scotland can choose our own future when the crisis is over, and made clear that the question of a referendum is now a matter of when – not if.”
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