SNP plan for further independence fundraising next year

In the party’s annual accounts, treasurer Colin Beattie acknowledged there had been ‘concern’ over donations.

SNP plan for further independence fundraising next year PA Media

The SNP plan to conduct further fundraising for an independence referendum early next year, the party’s accounts reveal.

In the annual statement of the party’s finances, treasurer Colin Beattie said another campaign would be needed ahead of “critical political watersheds”.

He acknowledged there had been “concern” about transparency over independence-related appeals that had raised more than £600,000.

However, he sought to reassure members that all of the money raised would be spent directly on the campaign to win independence.

The accounts, which were published on Tuesday, also disclose the salary of the party’s chief executive Peter Murrell.

Murrell, the husband of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, earned £79,750 as of May 31 this year.

Party membership rose from 105,393 at the end of 2020 to more than 119,000 by the end of May 2021.

The publication of the accounts come after two SNP MPs quit the party’s National Executive Committee in May, citing a lack of transparency.

In July, Police Scotland announced it was opening an investigation after complaints were made about donations to the party.

The SNP leadership have strongly denied claims the money raised for independence campaigning was diverted elsewhere.

In a section of the accounts, Beattie discusses the money raised by the referendum-related appeals since 2017.

He said that £666,953 had been raised up to the end of 2021, with a total of £51,760 expenditure applied to this income.

The money was earmarked internally as being related to certain appeals, he said.

Beattie said: “There has been concern expressed in some quarters that this system does not result in a separate fund being officially recorded in the annual accounts of the Party.

“Hence a claim from some that the money does not exist.

“In fact the money is ‘earmarked’ through the internal process set out above and will be deployed fully through future cash flow for the purpose of promoting a referendum on independence and campaigns intended to secure independence.”

He continued: “While these monies are not separated out, their existence in terms of the commitment as to what they will be spent on is tangible.”

Beattie said the remainder of the independence money would be spent this year, with a need for “a further fundraising exercise early in 2022 as we approach critical political watersheds”.

The SNP accounts listed the party’s “cash and cash equivalents” at the end of 2020 as £260,565.

The party received more than £2.4m in membership fees and had a surplus of just over £1m at the end of the year.

Sturgeon has said she wants to have an independence referendum within the next five years, preferably by the end of 2023.

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