Some political leaders might be a bit hesitant when it comes to approaching lottery
winners in the hope of securing some of their dosh for the party cause – but not Alex Salmond. Back in July this year, when it emerged that a couple in Ayrshire – Colin and Chris Weir
– had scooped a record £161 million on the EuroMillions, Scotland’s First Minister reacted with astonishing speed.
Within days Mr Salmond had written a letter to the couple congratulating them on their success and adding:
‘When I heard the fantastic news that a Scot had landed the EuroMillions jackpot, I did wonder if this was the same Colin Weir who helped produce SNP party political broadcasts for a young
party publicity vice-convener all those years ago.’
There was little wondering about it. Mr Salmond knew it was the same Colin Weir who had not just worked for the party a few years before but had actually stood for the SNP in the 1987
General Election. There have been reports that Mr Salmond followed up that letter with a phone call, or several, and today he has been rewarded for his ingratiating persistence with a hefty slice of
that EuroMillions jackpot for SNP coffers.
The Weirs confirmed this morning they are donating £1 million from their winnings to the SNP’s independence campaign. The money will sit alongside the £900,000 the party has also
received from the estate of the poet Edwin Morgan, Scotland’s late Makar (poet laureate), which was announced last month. This already gives the Nationalists a war chest of nearly £2 million
for a referendum which will probably not take place for another three years, or even four.
With other big-money donors (like bus tycoon Brian Souter who bankrolled the SNP’s last two election campaigns virtually single-handed) expected to hand over sizeable sums nearer the time, the
pro-independence campaign will have more money to spend than any other organisation in Scottish political history. Given that the Nats won this year’s election comfortably with just over £1
million to spend, a likely fighting fund of £4 or 5 million will give them extraordinary clout.
When the Nats expertise in the use of new technology, social media and hi-tech campaigning is taken into account, it is clear that the unionists face a massive challenge in just competing when the
referendum comes around. As James noted a couple of weeks ago, they have no leader, no coherent
campaign and no strategy.
The SNP has all of these and also, as it emerged today, money – and lots of it. At this stage, there is only one side in this contest.Tags: Alex Salmond, Donations, Referendum, Scotland, Scottish independence, SNP, UK politics