Below is the briefing from the treasurer of the SNP given to the NEC, I’ll not rehash my comments of re-appointing a treasurer beaten in a fair party member election due to lack of transparency, in favour of a treasurer who wanted to bring transparency but decided to resign as a result of it not being forthcoming. You can read my previous articles here:
So let’s go through the treasurer’s report then shall we? Those of a disposition likely to trigger the kicking of a monitor from their desk may wish to leave now.
The list of points begins with the external audit and review by the electoral commission being founded upon as the be-all and end-all of verification. Two things I will say with this, firstly an external audit confirms that transactions are in line with what is disclosed to the electoral commission, and the electoral commission only requires certain things to be disclosed. It actually profers no assurance whatsoever.
The second point is pretty simple, that donations come in different forms of payment and are recorded as either being cheque, bacs or card. Nothing of noteworthiness at this point.
The third point is just about the fact that they put a little note next to a donation to say why the person donated in the first place and if they expressed a certain intention for its usage.
The fourth point is where things start to take a turn into darker territory. It states “in due course, as money is utilised for such purpose, the balance of any such total is reduced until the obligation is expunged”. That’s some clever wording because if funds are available for usage and those specific funds donated are used for the specific purpose they were donated, there is no obligation created. The obligation only comes with debt to something. It’s complicated, but in simple terms, if Bob donates a fiver and says he wants it used for leaflets, then the party buy leaflets using his donated fiver, there’s no obligation because the amount is immediately scored off in the books.
The next point elaborates further. “Donations made to the independence related fundraising appeals have been treated in this way. They are recorded within HQ as being related to these appeals and amounts equivalent to the sums raised will be spent for the intended purpose. “
Keywords of note here are “amounts equivalent to the sums raised”. In other words, what this is saying (while trying to confuse the reader) is that bobs fiver is not being spent on leaflets, what they are saying is an “equivelant” fiver will be spent on leaflets and we’ll get to this in a minute.
It goes on to say “Of course, the SNP is the party of independence and, as such, every penny we spend – directly or indirectly – is in support of winning independence.” This is great political spin that is intended to try and calm the reader and brace them for what comes next.
It goes on: “However, through this internal process we will ensure that an amount equivalent to the sums raised from these appeals will go directly to our work to secure a referendum and win independence”. There are those words again “equivelant sum”. Keep reading!
This of course sets up point 6. “To be clear, by the end of 2020 a total of £666,953 had been raised through the independence related appeals and coded as such through the internal process. These donations are also included in – and have been reconciled with – the total amount for donation included in the party accounts from 2017 to 2020. Up until 21st December 2020, a total of £51,760 of expenditure had been applied against this income. The balance remains “earmarked”- through the internal process explained above – for independence related campaigning. It is worth noting that there are other items of expenditure that it would have been perfectly legitimate for us to apply against this income but we have chosen not to do so. In other words, we are taking a very strict approach to ensure that this income supports expenditure directly related to the campaign for independence.”
I shall stop here for a moment and explain. What they are saying is that the money was never “ringfenced” at all and that the following statement about the funds being “interwoven” throughout the party accounts is complete and utter nonsense. IT was never ringfenced. It was earmarked.
The statements about “equivelant amounts” are pure political spin. What he is saying is that they record all of the amounts that people have donated and the things those donors want the money spent on. At that point, they pull a shell game. What he is saying is the SNP have likely spent the money.
In simple terms, the SNP mark all the donations from the likes of bob which were specifically donated for the purposes of indyref 2 and they get a total amount. From this, they create an account for that type of donation. It then seems they spend the money on whatever they like (like elections) which then creates a black hole in that fund. At that point, they then use member dues and future donations to refill that black hole.
Simply put they are putting specific donations for specific reasons into the fund, then lending that money to themselves for other purposes (all the bobs and all their fivers) and spending it. They are then using members dues and other donations to pay for things related to the specific purposes of that fund. In other words, bob donates his fiver for the indyref 2 funds, the SNP spend it on an election. Sandra then donates another fiver (the “equivalent fiver”) which the SNP then spend for “indyref2 related stuff” bought at the time Sandra donated. Is it illegal? Possibly not, however, if you did that in business, namely using one client’s money to fill a black hole in losses from the money you took from another, you’d be charged with running a Ponzi scheme!
Earmarked and ringfenced are not the same thing. Earmarked simply means a marker to indicate where money should be spent and recorded. Ringfencing means putting it in a separate account and not touching it, only withdrawing money from it when you are buying or paying for something specific to the purposes of that fund.
So basically put, the SNP have spent the money and are now paying it back from current donations, future donations and members dues. It kind of reminds you of what new labour did with state pensions, where they took the sizeable pot which the electorate was paying into, and which was a self-sustaining fund there for peoples retirement, and changed the system to one where people paying tax today, pay for pensions paid today. Just so they could spend the pot. I never thought I would hear myself say this, but it looks like the SNP really have gone New Labour.
I’m sorry but bobs fiver should only be spent on indyref 2 expenditure, not used to loan to the SNP for election campaigns, then replaced in the future. It’s patently dishonest. Bob donated in good faith that his money would be spent for a specific purpose, not used and then replaced later on. But it’s the non-SNP members that should be livid about this, who donated to the fund believing it was distinct and separate from the SNP and was expressly for Indyref 2. It was not to be used for the SNP’s own electoral advantage.
As for the comment in the next paragraph about the SNP not being a charity et al, well that’s just unnecessary posturing. As for the comments about other “legitimate” costs they could have applied. That’s utter trash, by their own admission they haven’t done any work in preparation for indyref 2. So how exactly does no work amount to £50K+ in expenditure?
The joke really comes home in para 9, where they say “there may be a need for a further fundraising exercise in early 2022 as we approach critical political watersheds”. Well! I can tell you, I ain’t going to be one of the ones donating and I am sure many others won’t as well. Why? Because we know where the money is going, namely to cover the money spent previously for purposes other than which it was intended!
There’s a reason Ponzi Schemes are illegal. They are an investing scam which generates returns for earlier investors with money taken from later investors. This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new investors’ funds to pay the earlier backers. In otherwords your liabilities get wider and wider and wider, and eventually you hit a brick wall where your income starts to contract/drop rather than continue to climb. At that point you don’t have enough funds to pay back the missing funds, the crap hits the fan. In business, people lose livelihoods. Point and case, Enron! With a political party, the likelyhood is that the party collapses – it’s unsustainable.
But what could possibly cause such a contraction for the SNP with respect to their income? You guessed it! Scotland becoming independent, where the “party of independence” is no longer required due to the fact that all parties are parties within an independent nation. Fewer supporters mean less income, less income and the shit hits the fan and isn’t evenly distributed!
Don’t take my word on it though, because here is the report!