TODAY The National can report on the threat to the independence movement from what can only be described as the wealthy, the well-connected and the lower echelons of the British Establishment.

What we cannot do, on legal advice, is print the names of the people involved, for their identities were revealed on a “private” spreadsheet list of donors to the Scotland in Union organisation which campaigns against independence.

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Their names have been well circulated online and on social media.

Scotland in Union is led by former Labour MP Pamela Nash and is registered with the Electoral Commission as a “non-party campaigner”, which means it is subject to tight rules about the donations it can make and accept.

According to the spreadsheet, a total of £650,000 was given to Scotland in Union by 168 individuals and companies dating back to 2015.

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The information on the spreadsheet was compiled by Scotland in Union and sent to the Electoral Commission. After a Freedom of Information request, the list came into the public domain because the Commission’s redaction of the list – the electronic blacking-out of names – was not secure on its website. Quick-thinking readers could copy and paste the details of every donation on to a separate document. The Commission has said it regrets the error and, working with Scotland in Union, is contacting all donors involved.

Data Protection Act issues are involved, and though the list is freely available on social media, The National is taking legal advice as to whether we can publish the names. In the meantime, we can reveal the calibre of the people who gave money to Scotland in Union. We do not dispute their legal right to do so, we merely ask why these people did not have the courage of their convictions to make their donations public.

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Let’s talk about connections: The National has already reported that the list contains people, and companies run by people, who are friends of the Duke of Rothesay, aka Prince Charles, and his son Prince William, the Earl of Strathearn and Duke of Cambridge. There is no suggestion whatsoever that their royal highnesses knew of their friends’ political activities, which very much go against the Royal Family’s declared policy of neutrality before the 2014 referendum.

The royal connection is enhanced because at least two of the donors have been or are very senior figures in the royal sport of polo.

How about landowners? Two companies have made two donations totalling £12,000. The “controlling mind”, to use the legal term for boss, in both companies is a clan chief who is a very much admired and respected laird in his area, though one wonders if the members of his worldwide clan would remain as devoted as they are if they knew of his donations. One of his ancestors was a strong opponent of the Act of Union…

Another two “estates”, one of them in England, have made donations of £7,499 each. The “controlling mind” for the two estates is a multi-millionaire reported to have been born outside the UK. By donating £14,998 he is £2 short of being the largest donor.

Contributions from the business world border on the staggering: one wonders if the shareholders of a certain Aberdeenshire firm were aware that their company had donated £1,000 in March last year? And did a certain English billionaire with Scottish connections know his landowning sister was donating £2,000?

Included is a distillery owner and a hotel owner. One can see why anonymity is required when business might depend on Yes voters.

A well-known Scottish sculptor is among several people connected to the arts who donated sums, theirs being an auction prize worth £10,200. One donor is a novelist – no, not her – while one of the donors has the name of a certain well-known television actor, though he has a namesake who has actually featured in the press for his anti-independence views. At the very least, Scotland in Union should make the person’s identity clear to avoid further confusion.

And will clients of a certain large Edinburgh law firm be happy about its co-founder donating £10,320?

This reporter and his family are now ex-clients.

The list goes on and on – one of the donors is a Scot who was formerly in the very highest echelons of the banking world, another two are multi-millionaires who made their eight- or nine-figure wealth off the backs of North Sea oil industry workers, another two are well-known figures in the Edinburgh financial industry and there are other financiers and asset managers.

You can tell from the list how Scotland in Union made its money. At fundraising dinners, people bid over the odds for auction prizes – all such “over” bids need to be recorded as donations. And there were a lot of those prizes, including the infamous chalet as described in the brochure for the Scotland in Union dinner at the Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh in September, 2016: “A fabulous chalet and a family home, with six bedrooms sleeping 12, all en suite. Although the chalet does not come with a chalet girl, we will provide one for you.”

There was also a prize of an “extravaganza of polo and amazing parties in Jodhpur for two ... rubbing shoulders with the maharajah”. Polo, again, so perhaps those riding to save the Union are mounted not on tanks but polo ponies.

Just fewer than half of the donors were either givers of auction prizes or bought them at dinners for which the ticket price was said to be £250 but which is not classed as a donation. You can just see what happened – egging each other on, the guests bid higher and higher, probably not realising that to do so would put them on the donors’ list. Were they and the givers of prizes promised secrecy? If so, Scotland in Union’s business plan just went skelly.

The bosses of some firms must be cringing, though one of the named donors probably won’t care as he didn’t care what people thought about him before the 2014 referendum.

Other donors include a lady who organises Roman Catholic pilgrimages, an entrepreneur who would like to frack parts of England, and a former Liberal Democrat council candidate.

It is astonishing how many donors are based in England, and how many are owners of at least two homes, including castles.

Oh, and don’t forget the two Earls, one of whom isn’t even Scottish.

They are not totally representative of the British Establishment – no Whitehall mandarins, no appointed Lords, no Tory MPs, nor any Labour or LibDem MPs, no police, generals or colonels, though there is one decorated war hero – but as a selection of wannabe Establishment “types” the list of donors is pretty comprehensive.

As George Adam MSP told The National: “It is no surprise at all that the anti-independence group Scotland in Union is bankrolled by self-interested Tory multi-millionaires.

“And yet the Labour party wonders why their reputation is in tatters when they front up this arch-Unionist group that promotes the interests of the few at the expense of the many.

“The more Scotland in Union tries to talk our country down and shut us up while the damage of Brexit unfolds, the more people will realise the benefits of taking decisions for ourselves in an independent Scotland.”

So now the Yes movement knows what it is up against. They might be in disarray due to this crisis but Scotland in Union are raising serious cash – why aren’t we? This list of donors should be a rallying cry for the Yes grassroots movement because now we know the wealth and the broad reach of those who oppose independence.

As Robert Burns might well have put it, we are bought and sold for “British” gold, sic’ a parcel o’ rogues in a union.