I have, since it all started, refused to opine on the stooshie about the SNP’s finances and the “ring-fenced” money donated by members. However, with the resignation of Douglas Chapman, who is my local MP and the resultant response from Kirsten Oswald, I think now is the time to put my tuppence worth in about it.
Tonight Douglas resigned as National Treasurer of the Scottish National Party, and that surprised me because his entire reason for standing to become National Treasurer was to end the rumours surrounding the SNP’s finances, permenantly. Not by covering up potential wrongdoing, but by injecting transparency into the process and allowing the world to see that the party had nothing to hide.
I won’t speak for Douglas, instead I shall allow you to read his tweets for yourself.
The one thing that has always stuck in my craw about the situation over the finances, was a single phrase, rather than all the rumours flying around. It was when the SNP stated that the 600K was interspersed within the parties account. This made my left eyebrow raise a little because by definition, the phrase “ring-fenced” means just that. A guarantee that (funds allocated for a particular purpose) will not be spent on anything else, by isolating them from everything else. Namely a separate account off to the side somewhere that funds can’t be touched. So to say that they are both interspersed within the accounts of the institution in different places, but also simultaneously state that they are “ring-fenced”, well that seems to be diametrically opposing positions.
But as I said, I reserve judgement until there is clear empirical evidence, and I would ask everyone else to do the same – mainly because things aren’t necessarily true just because you read them on the internet, and more often than none, those spreading such rumours have a personal axe to grind.
That being said, in addition to the opposing positions, when three members of the Finance and Audit Committee resigned in March, after they requested to see the books and Peter Murrell refused, that most definitely got my spidey sense tingling a tad. Now Douglas, my local MP and someone I have interacted with has resigned, not at the first stage when the rumours all started and not immediately after the stooshie between Murrell and the Finance and Audit Committee. No, he has resigned a number of months later, which tells me that he’s stuck in there longer than most would have, and tried to get the information he needed to bring transparency to the situation; and try to end these damn rumours once and for all. What has he been met with? A brick wall, and there’s a problem with brick walls, shit sticks to it!
His resignation stunned me because Douglas is not the type that throws in the towel easily, but what stunned me more was Kirsten Oswalds response online:
There are several things I would say about this response. Firstly, she’s free to disagree with Douglas’s assessment as much as she wants, but the point is she is not Douglas. Secondly, the Business Convener is not the Treasurer, the two positions are not the same, therefore the support and mechanisms required to facilitate each role are different. Just because she may have ready access to the tools to do her job, does not reflect in any way on what Douglas has experienced. It’s like an airline passenger saying “I always fly British Airways because I’ve never been in a crash with them”……to someone who’s in the hospital because they’ve been in a crash in a British Airways aircraft. One persons experience does not necessarily match another’s.
I note that the she mentions the NEC, and to be honest, I wouldn’t trust the SNP’s NEC as far as I could throw it, purely on the basis that it’s not exactly been a model of late. She mentions auditing and submission to the Electoral Commission – I may be wrong but the “audit” would be done by the Finance and Audit Committee, which seems logical. The same committee that had three resignations in March. So it would not matter if everything is done above board and is correct, that committee is tainted and the continuing silence by the SNP on this issue is only giving the axis of unionism something to found upon and cause division.
The SNP could end these rumours once and for all by bringing in a completely separate auditor, someone who has never worked for the SNP in the past. I’m not talking about a standard auditor – i’m talking about a forensic auditor, the type the police use for going through the finances of criminal gangs. Give the auditor free reign to confirm the parties finance and publish the report online.
This is not intended as a swing at the SNP (but god knows they do deserve it at times), merely a gentle slap on the back of the head – sometimes you have to crack a nut with a sledgehammer. This is one of those times. Open the books, bring in a damn forensic auditor and publish the damn report online. Keep the usual suspects out of that process to ensure it cannot be labelled as tainted and put these rumours to bed permenantly. Because if the SNP does not, the unionists will seize upon this and continue to use it as a wedge between the party and the movement. This is the sort of scandal that destroys parties and it’s time, with respect, that the SNP leadership wake the f**k up and realise that. Mere accusations often destroy more through collateral damage, than empirically confirmed wrongdoing.