Twitter calls for real justice as the ‘net closes in’ on the Scottish Tory dark money allegations

Ruth Davidson standing up in the Scottish Parliament
Brian Finlay

The Electoral Commission has fined a major Scottish Conservative party donor in connection with ongoing ‘dark money’ allegations. As openDemocracy reports, the Irvine Unionist Club (IUC) received the fine because of:

Failure to provide notification of gifts to a political party exceeding £25,000, and notification of gifts received by due date.

It follows IUC’s donation of £100,000 to the Scottish Conservatives prior to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

SNP MP Pete Wishart took to Twitter as the news broke of the £400 fine [paywall] reported in the Electoral Commission’s monthly update. He feels the “net is closing in” on the Tories despite the “paltry” fine:

The ‘dark money’ and what it funded

As the Ferret and openDemocracy reported, the Scottish Conservatives have faced accusations [paywall] of receiving ‘dark money’ to fund election campaigns. Moreover, a former vice chair of the Scottish Conservative Party, Richard Cook, was behind the DUP’s £435,000 donation prior to the EU referendum.

The IUC was not a registered Scottish Conservative donor. Tracking where its money came from has proved difficult. The treasurer of North Ayrshire Conservatives, Bryan Gossman, told openDemocracy the donation had been transferred to “the central party in Edinburgh”. However, the Scottish Conservative Party is not an accounting unit registered with the Electoral Commission.

Based on Gossman’s assertion, the donation was essentially “hidden” in the local party’s account. Edinburgh Conservatives and Unionists is the local party of Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. She was conveniently elected as the MSP for Edinburgh Central after spending £950,000 on her campaign; which was 10% funded by the donation from IUC. Scottish Conservatives had only spent £275,000 in previous campaigns in this constituency.

Twitter wants justice

Political opponents of the Tories want answers.

Many on Twitter have expressed frustration at the paltry £400 fine imposed by the Electoral Commission:

Also, George Monbiot suggests that ‘dark money’ is one of the greatest threats to democracy:

And Scottish Labour has called on Davidson to “come clean” about ‘dark money’:

So it would be in the best interests of the Scottish Conservative Party to start talking. Voters have waited long enough.

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Featured image via The Scottish Parliament/ YouTube

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Brian Finlay