25 Jun 2012

Scottish independence: ‘No’ campaign launches

The campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, headed by former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, launched in Edinburgh today – but it faces an uphill funding battle.

The Better Together campaign is jointly backed by both Labour and the Conservatives. Mr Darling warned that an independent Scotland is “like buying Scotland’s children a one-way ticket to uncertainty”.

However, something else that remains uncertain is how the pro-union campaign is being funded. Donors will be revealed at a later date – but in the meantime two massive donations have greatly boosted Darling’s SNP-led rivals.

The Scottish National Party’s pro-independence campaign has amassed a £2m pot to spend on its campaign for independence from the fortunes of two lottery-winning Scots and a poet laureate.

The Yes campaign’s funds came in two main tranches – £1m from Euro Millions lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir and £918,000 from the late Scots poet Edwin Morgan.

Despite previous claims it would be able to match the SNP’s funds, Better Together, combining Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, is believed to have around half that amount.

Channel 4 News explores the potential sources of funding for the pro-union campaign.

Better Together at ‘Dottyville’ Gary Gibbon blogs from the No campaign launch


Leading academics have said that independence could lead to a period of uncertainty for Scottish business, with a former advisor to Alex Salmond, Professor John Kay, estimating that period could last up to 2019.

Business in Scotland is dominated by oil and natural gas, with Aberdeen University’s Professor Alex Kemp suggesting that tax revenue from the oil and gas sector could be with in the region of £5bn to £10bn for the an independent Scottish government.

Around two-fifths of Scottish oil and gas businesses who were surveyed by the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce said the issue of Scottish independence was something they were factoring into their business plans beyond 2014.

The Conservative Party, over the past two years, has welcomed new donors from the oil and gas sector. Three of which have specific interests in the North Sea.

They are:

• Petrofac’s group chief executive Ayman Asfari, who has donated £133,225 since the end of 2010 in four payments. The most recent donation was in March this year.
• Alexander Temerko, director of OGN Group, who donated £10,000 to the Conservative Party in February this year.
• Aidan Heavey, founder of Tullow Oil, who donated £45,000 over 2010 and 2011.
• Abdul-Majid Jafar, executive director of Crescent Petroleum, a business that is not currently active in the North Sea but does have a UK office, who has donated £100,000 across four payments – the most recent of which was in October last year.


Labour, as the second most popular party in Scotland, is fronting the union campaign and its traditional donors are the unions.

Since the start of 2011 unions have donated more than £300,000 to the Scottish Labour Party.

Amongst the biggest donors are Unite the Union at £94,084 and general union GMB at £98,188.

The Public

Another potential avenue for income will be from the community as the battle for online donation heats up.

The SNP has for some time been the dominant force in online and social media campaigning.

In the 2011 election campaign the party received 18,378 social media mentions – nearly 3,000 more than Labour, double the amount of the Conservatives and almost triple the amount of the Liberal Democrats.

However, Alistair Darling will be fighting back online, and this could lead to a surge in funds as well.

Darling has hired Blue State, the digital company that masterminded Barack Obama’s online election campaign, to promote the anti-independence efforts.

The organisation, which also worked for new French president Francois Hollande, raised $500m for Obama through online campaigning from 3 million donors.


Meanwhile, the SNP has released the results of a poll which suggests that only two in 10 people believe it is better for Scotland to remain in the UK if the Tories are in charge.

Seven in 10 Scots do not trust the government in Westminster to take the right decisions for Scotland, the poll has suggested.

Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader Jackson Carlaw dismissed the survey, saying: “This is desperate stuff from the SNP and, sadly, a tactic well signposted in advance.

“In the wake of the recent calamitous launch of its Yes campaign, the SNP has abandoned any pretence of being positive and now seeks a vote on whether or not Scotland loves the Conservatives.”

Better Together Director Richard Baker, a Labour MSP, said: “This isn’t a referendum on whether or not you like the Tories – the issue is whether or not Scotland leaves the UK.”