SIX Unionist campaigns spent more than £200,000 between them trying to convince Scots not to vote for pro-independence parties this May, it has emerged.

More people than ever voted in May’s Scottish Government elections – and while parties were clamouring for votes, other political groups were also trying to sway the result. We don’t yet know the full spending breakdown as the returns from larger players have yet to be published, but this week the Electoral Commission did release details for smaller parties who laid out £250,000 or less in the push from January 6 until May 6 – and for non-party campaigners.

Of the seven organisations covered, only one – Dignity and Choice in Dying, which campaigns on assisted dying – was not pro-Union. Together, the other six – Scotland Matters, Majority Media Ltd, Scotland in Union, SB Supports the Union Ltd, Mr Brian Menteith and Young Unionists – spent a combined £216,176.

That’s more than the entire spending of the Alba Party (£214,371) and approaching that by the Scottish Greens (£231,902).

Donations over £7500 in relation to non-party campaigners’ political activity have also been published.


THE biggest spender at £56,265, most of which went on what the Electoral Commission categorises as “manifesto or referendum material”, which includes advertising. As well as £46,000 from the “Centre for Economic education and Training” in London, it took in £19,800 from a James Bickerton, making him their second-biggest backer over the period. In April, the Sunday National and The Ferret told how a James Bickerton had spent more than £9300 on Facebook ads targeting the SNP.


HELMED by husband-and-wife team Mark and Mary Devlin, Majority Media is the parent company behind The Majority. It spent £36,399 on its Holyrood campaign. During the proscribed pre-election period it took in donations worth £20,189.29 whichwere reported together, not individually.


LED by former Labour MP Pamela Nash, Scotland in Union spent £35,424 on campaigning, including almost £8200 over 10 payments to Facebook for ads. It also paid polling firm Survation £1000 in March and the biggest outlay was £12,000 to billboard firm ClearChannel. But the only donation it declared for the Scottish election period is for £1104.32, submitted under the “total value of donations not reported individually” tag.


AT a combined total of £11,327, a Robert Dow Kilgour was the most prolific donor to this business-focused body, which was founded by the care home tycoon of the same name. Its CEO is former Tory MEP Struan Stevenson and it spent £34,444 on campaigning, taking in £10,000 from Inchinnan firm Peak Scientific Instruments and another £10,000 from a Mr William Toner.


THIS former Tory MSP and Brexit Party MEP spent £33,637, taking in £9300 in donations not reported individually.


THE Young Unionists group took in donations worth £20,000 in donations not reported individually – just more than the £19,971 it spent campaigning. Of this, all but £72 was on “manifesto or referendum material”. And 107 separate payments to Facebook were listed.