Electoral Commission ‘looking into’ Scottish Tory £100,000 donation after openDemocracy exposes potential rule breach.
The latest polls suggest the Conservatives could win up to ten seats in Scotland on Thursday. That’s ten times more than they’ve won at any point in the last 25 years. And it hasn’t come from nowhere: last year’s Scottish parliament election saw Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tory party more than double its number of seats.
But new revelations today cast a shadow over that success. While the Scottish Tory surge is often put down to Ruth Davidson’s charisma, or to a polarisation on the independence question, this simple fact is often ignored: households in Scotland are being flooded with Conservative propaganda in a way they never have never been before. And it is unclear who is bankrolling it.
To be precise, Tory election spending in Scotland has more than trebled in five years. In the 2011 Scottish parliament election, the Tories spent nearly £275,000. In the 2016 election, they splashed out £978,921.07: more than three and a half times as much. Now, an openDemocracy investigation has triggered important questions about the sources of major donations to the party over that election.
Where did the Scottish Conservatives get all of this extra cash?
Thanks to the laws of the United Kingdom, any donation over £7,500 has to be registered and the source of the donation named. So: a search of the Electoral Commission website should easily provide the answer of who has been paying for this unprecedented Tory spending spree. Except that it doesn’t.
Partly, this seems to be because most of the donations come through the UK-wide office. But partly, it’s because a significant amount of the cash seems to have come through obscure trusts and unincorporated associations.