08 October 2006

Money Talks

The financial state of the parties is worth discussing today, particularly in light of the news that Sir Tom Farmer has pledged £100,000 to the SNP. This is undoubtedly good news for the Party in one sense, as it has always been short of wealthy backers, with the obvious exception of Sir Sean Connery, who is still wealthy and is still a backer of the Party, but not in the financial sense. However, you could argue one of the SNP's big selling points has been its lack of wealthy backers as they have hitherto gone to great pains to point this out, and in any case, the Party was trying to raise £1million, and before Sir Tom's intervention, they were only a quarter of the way there with less than six months to go before the formal dissolution of the Scottish Parliament and the start of the official campaign (the unofficial campaign having started last September at the latest). This means that the Party has to up its profile and its fundraising game, or find at least six more wealthy backers now.

However, they should count their blessings that they aren't the Labour Party's financiers, who have had to pull the plug the formal conference in Glasgow next Spring, replacing it with a more 'informal' (i.e. cheap) arrangement, but also deprives Labour of its showpiece rally before the Election. This lack of money in the pot couldn't have come at a worse time for Scottish Labour, who will need to fight a hard (and expensive) campaign. I also suspect that the people at Labour HQ in London hasn't quite realised that Scottish Labour is in a perilous position... Scotland is probably number three on their list of priorities: first place will go to the English local government elections in an attempt to prevent yet more votes ebbing away from Labour in the key marginals in England; number two will be the Welsh Assembly, where Labour lost its majority last year, failed to win it back at the Blaenau Gwent By-Election, and faces a set of opposition parties who are more predisposed to banding together to give Labour a good kicking than in Scotland.

Then there's the SSP, whose troubles of all sorts have been well-documented, particularly where cash is concerned. At Conference yesterday, the RMT representatives hinted at the possibility that the union end its affiliation to the Party over the handling of the Tommy Sheridan saga. Given Sheridan's attempt to appeal to trade unionists (that is when he's not fighting the evil alliance that he claims exists Rupert Murdoch, MI5 and Colin Fox), there's probably a good bet to be had on the RMT switching to Solidarity before the year is out.

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