Weir’s lottery windfall dominates YesScotland fundraising efforts

Fundraising declaration makes pro-independence campaign £600,000 better off than opponents

by Apr 10, 2013 No Comments

The YesScotland campaign has received over £1.7m from since its creation in May 2012, over £600,000 more than the rival Better Together campaign, figures released today have revealed.

However, the campaign for Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum received £500,000 each from Chris and Colin Weir, the SNP-supporting couple from Largs who won a £161m Euromillions jackpot in 2011 – more than half the total.

£112,000 came from over 7,500 individual donations of less than £7,500 which have been kept anonymous. Last week, the Better Together campaign announced it had received 9,500 individual donations.

According to YesScotland’s figures less than one per cent of its funding came from overseas sources, although the exact number and value have not been revealed. The Yes campaign has committed to only taking donations of over £500 from those eligible to vote in the referendum. A spokeswoman told Holyrood that the average figure for overseas donations was just £52.

YesScotland chief executive Blair Jenkins said: “The information given today reflects the fact that Yes Scotland is a self-financing campaign and that we are being funded by Scotland for Scotland.

“That, in our view, is how it should be and why, unlike our opponents, we are not prepared to accept large donations from people outside Scotland.”

YesScotland also revealed it had received a non-cash donation of £342,797 from the SNP as start-up costs. None of the other political parties affiliated with the campaign, including the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party, are listed as donors.

Green Party co-convener, Patrick Harvie, told Holyrood: “Thousands of individuals have been donating to Yes Scotland and will continue to do so, whatever their political affiliation. But it will come as no surprise to anyone that the Scottish Green Party is not bankrolled by millionaires and does not have a war chest to hand over to anyone.

“Fundraising will remain important for the campaign, but even more so is the positive and transformational vision of the country Scotland could be if we start making our own choices on our own terms.”

The campaign’s other major individual donors are fund manager Angus Tulloch, who gave £250,000; the founder of Elgin-based house-building firm Springfield, Sandy Adam, who gave £25,000; and the owner of chemists Thistle Pharmacies, William Wilson, who gave £8,000.

Separately, the SNP called on Better Together to hand back a £500,000 donation from oil company CEO Ian Taylor, whose Geneva-based firm Vitol has been accused of unethical dealings in Iran, Libya, Milosevic-era Serbia, and in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

However, Vitol has denied any illegal conduct, and says it is taking legal advice. A spokesperson for the company said in a statement to Holyrood: “Allegations made about Vitol this week are inaccurate and libellous. The company has taken legal advice and will take whatever steps are deemed necessary to have these inaccuracies corrected, and to prevent their further publication.”

Meanwhile, a pro-independence website, National Collective, which carried a series of allegations against Ian Taylor and Vitol in connection with the Better Together donation, has been taken down and replaced with a blue screen and the words ‘Not for publication’.

Paris Gourtsoyannis Paris Gourtsoyannis

Paris joined Holyrood in September 2011, and became education correspondent in May 2012. Born in Canada into a Greek family, and raised in Belgium, he came to Scotland in 2005 to study at the University of Edinburgh, where he was involved with award-winning student publication The Journal. Before working at Holyrood, Paris contributed to the Edinburgh Evening News, the Guardian and Guardian Local, and interned at think-tank Demos. His beat takes in all areas of Scotland's education and skills sector, including early years, adult learning, and employability...

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