Monday, 6 May 2013

Charities good, Better Together bad

The row over Better Together's £500k donation from Vitol president Ian Taylor refuses to die.
Today, an SNP-commissioned YouGov poll reports most Scots who have a view on the subject want the No campaign to hand the money back because of Vitol deals in shady places.

However the SNP takes a rather different view of Ian Taylor's charitable giving.
Indeed, three SNP ministers have very publicly supported one project that got £50k from Taylor.

So if it's too "dirty" for Better Together, why is Taylor's cash clean enough for charities backed by the SNP?
Pure hypocrisy from Angus Robertson et al, say Better Together. 
Here's the full version of the story from today's Herald.

Tom Gordon
THE SNP has been accused of hypocrisy for demanding the pro-union Better Together campaign should return £500,000 from a controversial donor, after it emerged SNP ministers are backing groups getting money from the same source.   

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and former minister Bruce Crawford are among 20 SNP MSPs who backed a Scots charity which took money from Ian Taylor, president of oil trader Vitol.

First Minister Alex Salmond also has ties to a Scottish project part-funded by Taylor.

The SNP has called for a month for Better Together to return Mr Taylor’s money on ethical grounds, because of Vitol’s dealings with Serbia, Libya, Iran and Iraq.

The SNP has repeatedly cited Labour MP John Mann’s description of Mr Taylor’s separate donations to the Tories as “dirty money”.
A protest is planned by pro-independence campaigners outside Better Together’s Glasgow headquarters today [Monday, May 6] over the donation.
However Mr Taylor’s giving is not limited to Better Together or the Conservatives.
In recent years, the London-based charity he founded with his wife Tina, the Taylor Family Foundation, has given millions to good causes across the UK, including several in Scotland.
In 2009 and 2010 the Taylor Family Trust gave a total of £50,000 to Sistema Scotland, the Stirling charity which teaches music to children in disadvantaged areas.
The money helped run its "Big Noise" orchestra in Raploch.
In September 2010, Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford, then SNP minister for parliamentary business, hosted a reception for Sistema Scotland at the Scottish Parliament.
Bruce Crawford hosted Sistema gig
Last November, the Scottish Government also gave Sistema Scotland £1.3m to set up a second Big Noise orchestra in Govanhill, which is in Ms Sturgeon’s Glasgow Southside constituency.
Ms Sturgeon and Ms Hyslop took part in a photo opportunity to publicise the grant.
Ms Hyslop said the charity was “a fantastic example of how cultural activity can deliver real benefits to individuals, communities and wider society”, while Ms Sturgeon said it was “transforming lives through music”.” 
More than 20 SNP MSPs have also signed Holyrood motions supporting Sistema and its work. 

The SNP last night refused to explain why it was wrong for Better Together to take Mr Taylor’s money but fine for a charity, saying merely there was a “world of difference” between the two.

Besides Sistema Scotland, Ian Taylor’s Family Foundation has helped Dumfries House, a stately home restoration backed by Prince Charles and First Minister Alex Salmond. 
Through Historic Scotland, the SNP Government contributed £5m in 2007 to a rescue fund for the 18th century Ayrshire mansion, helping to save it for the nation.
Mr Taylor’s charity gave £100,000 in 2012. 
In September 2012, Alex Salmond welcomed Prince Charles to a fundraiser for Dumfries House at Ayr races. 
The Taylor Family Foundation also gave £25,000 to Stirling University recently to support talented student tennis players; £5000 to Islay & Jura Community Enterprises, which runs Bowmore swimming pool; and £5000 to the Mairi Semple Fund cancer charity in Argyll.
At a UK level, Ian Taylor’s Foundation has given Unicef £666,000, Save the Children £140,000, Great Ormond Street Hospital £105,000, and the NSPCC more than £70,000. 
Sturgeon and Hyslop backing Sistema in Glasgow
Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: “This is plain and simple hypocrisy. 
“The Nationalists’ failure to demand the return of Ian Taylor’s contribution to the wide range of charities in Scotland through his Taylor Family Foundation is telling. 
“It shows that their attempts to discredit Ian Taylor and his personal donation are nothing more than a shallow politically motivated manoeuvre. I trust the nationalists will now cease their unpleasant vendetta.”
A Better Together spokesman said: “We have been saying for weeks that Ian Taylor has made a significant contribution to Scotland but SNP ministers continue to smear him to try to stop others coming forward to support us. It’s hypocritical and the worst kind of politics.”
Asked if charities benefiting from Mr Taylor’s Foundation should hand the money back, an SNP spokesman said: “There is a world of difference between a music charity, and a political campaigning organisation. 
“It was Labour MP and Treasury Select Committee member John Mann who described Mr Taylor’s donations to the Tories as ‘dirty money’. The longer this issue runs, the more public opinion will put pressure on Alistair Darling and the No campaign to hand back this political donation back - and no amount of diversionary tactics will change that.”


  1. The fact that you can not see the difference between a charitable donation and one to either a political party (Conservatives received £550k from Taylor) or a political campaign (NO Better Together) is illuminating.

  2. He doesn't seem too worried about lawyer's letters being sent to his own employers and nationalist websites either demanding they don't repeat facts that are already in the public domain.

    Is that a 'positive' development or an indication of a bullying negative influence on Scotland's independence referendum campaign?

  3. Absolutely disgusting that anybody would try to conflate charitable donation with political contributions. It's no wonder there is so much criticism of poor level of debate and negativity spewed forth from the anti-Scotland/pro-London Rule supporters.

  4. "Absolutely disgusting that anybody would try to conflate charitable donation with political contributions."

    Why? If money is tainted it's tainted. It's even more important for a charity to have transparent funding than a political campaign. The truth of the matter is that by their hysterical smearing the nats have brought all these charities into disrepute. Good work, chaps...

  5. I agree with this post and thanks for sharing the truth here. Money has always been the agenda why a lot of political campaigns rise up. As a result, a lot of people don't trust charities because it is mixed up with politics and could later on lead for profit organization.

    I got some tips from Tim Mccallan and I guess charities nowadays should have build a business to expand its funds.