TO: Douglas Chapman MP, National Treasurer, SNP
DATE: 8 January 2021
Also sent by email
Congratulations on your recent election as the SNP’s treasurer. You may or may not be aware that in October 2020 this site asked your predecessor in the role, Colin Beattie, some questions on the subject of the supposedly “ring-fenced” indyref fighting fund that was created by donations to two separate fundraisers in previous years – referred to collectively by the party as the Referendum Appeal Fund or RAF.
We did so on behalf of numerous SNP members and non-members who had donated to the two appeals and were concerned as to the whereabouts of the monies.
No meaningful reply was received either by Wings or several individual donors who also contacted Mr Beattie asking the same questions, and a number of those people (as well as some of your elected colleagues) have asked us to put the same questions to you publicly, now that you’ve had a few weeks to settle into your new position and are understood to be interested in finding the answers.
The first question is a simple one, and were the proposal it contains adopted it would render all the others moot and draw the matter to an immediate and highly satisfactory conclusion, so I hope this will only take a minute.
To avoid any future confusion, why doesn’t the SNP simply transfer the entire RAF to the account of Yes Scotland, and divert any future donations through the yes.scot website to the company’s account rather than the SNP’s?
This would provide a visible separation between referendum funds and SNP political funds. Anyone whose primary interest was independence could donate money to Yes Scotland through the yes.scot site for that purpose, while anyone chiefly motivated by Queer Theory, thoughtcrime, stopping people from getting two-for-one pizzas and imprisoning former First Ministers for crimes they didn’t commit could donate to the SNP through its own existing donations page, located here.
There would be no reason for any noticeable admin costs – Yes Scotland would have only one source of income (donations), no outgoings (until such times as the imminent second referendum, naturally), and Mr Martin’s only task would be to file a simple short statement of its account balance every year, which he has to do now anyway. It seems an obvious, elegant and complete solution.
Should the above proposal be inexplicably rejected, the following questions arise:
(2) If the RAF is indeed ring-fenced and available for use “at a moment’s notice”, why does the SNP not simply denote it as such in the accounts and avoid all this confusion and bad feeling, as suggested by SNP councillor Chris McEleny?
(3) Why, for that matter, does it not publish it as a live running total on the yes.scot site, as it did with the 2017 ref.scot fundraiser? Is there a reason it should be secret? Surely it would boost the morale of the entire Yes movement to know beyond any doubt that it had a healthy fighting fund ready for instant deployment.
(4) How did the money in the RAF come to be “woven through” the accounts in various unexplained places, given that it all comes from only two sources – the 2017 ref.scot fundraiser and the 2019-present day yes.scot one – and the SNP apparently knows to the exact pound how much is in it? Why would all of those funds not be recorded under the same category?
(5) The yes.scot website used to state that all donations would be used to produce a book called “An Independent Scotland: Household Guide”, to be distributed to every household in Scotland. It now contains simply a generic statement that donations will be used to provide “Yes campaigners” with “materials”.
Which, if either, of these things is now the case?
(6) Are all donations through yes.scot still being directed to the RAF? If so, which area of the SNP’s accounts would they be included under? Donations? Prepayments? Some other? If they’re NOT being directed to the RAF, on what date did this change?
(7) What was the balance of the RAF on 31 December 2017, 31 December 2018, 31 December 2019 and 31 December 2020?
(8) The SNP’s total net current assets according to the 2019 accounts are just under £272,000. How then can the party claim to have a fund of almost £600,000 available to spend “at a moment’s notice”? Is it being held “off the books” in some way? Or is it in the form of some sort of loan or overdraft facility? And if the latter, what has the actual real money given by donors been spent on?
(9) Given that questions were being asked about this money as far back as January 2019, allowing the matter to have now festered damagingly for almost a year, can we hope for a more transparent approach from you than from your predecessor, and if so, how soon might we expect some answers? What actions have you taken so far?
On behalf of your concerned members and donors, I look forward to your response.
Wings Over Scotland