Ed Jacobs reports on the latest news from Scotland, with the cash for access, dinners for donors row ensnaring first minister Alex Salmond and the SNP.
Undercover footage seemingly showed him arguing David Cameron should be prepared to, in the words of the Daily Record:
“Fake his opposition to Scottish independence to get a better deal for England.”
To add to the Tories’ problems north of the border, Peter Hutchins, the Sunday Herald’s investigations editor, reported yesterday that a fundraising dinner for the Conservative Party’s “Keep Scotland in the Union Campaign”, due to be held in Edinburgh in June, is being organised by the Sussex-based “United and Cecil Club” (U&CC), a body that had to forfeit an illegal donation last year.
Targeting their fire on the Scottish Conservative Party’s treasurer James Stewart – who helped to finance Ruth Davidson’s successful campaign to become leader – the Herald quotes what it describes as a “senior Tory source” as saying of the development:
“The new treasurer has made the Scottish party a laughing stock. The SNP will ridicule us for this, and it will confirm to the other Unionist parties that we are simply a handicap that should neither be seen nor heard in the referendum campaign.
“Any treasurer worth his salt should be able to organise fundraising dinners in Scotland, by Scots, and for Scots.”
Whilst the SNP’s leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, argued these were “damaging revelations for the Scottish Tories who have been left looking ridiculous and isolated by their London bosses”, Alex Salmond has himself faced a fresh wave of questions over allegations about the way SNP donations have been sought and handled.
Just days after the Telegraph reported on the £1 million donated to the SNP by lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir shortly after being entertained at the first minister’s official residence of Bute House, the Sunday Mail in Scotland yesterday reported on the wealthy SNP donors who had been entertained at Bute House, including Ian Watson, ex-chairman of the Galahad Gold mining firm – who has donated £140,000 to the SNP – and former Unilever boss David McCarthy, who donated £5,045.
• Cash for Salmond: SNP dragged into donor row 31 Mar 2012
• Why we need for a compulsory register of lobbyists 14 Mar 2010
Linking the news with David Cameron’s own donation-gate troubles, Scottish Labour’s Parliamentary business manger observed:
“It appears that Alex Salmond has abused his office in exactly the same way as David Cameron abused his.
“The first minister has used public facilities paid for by the taxpayer to entertain donors to the SNP. From chumming up to Rupert Murdoch to abusing his office to entertain donors, Alex Salmond seems to be embracing every aspect of political sleaze which tarnishes Westminster’s reputation.”
In refuting any accusation of wrong doing, a spokesman for Alex Salmond stated:
“No private dining for donors takes place at Bute House.”