SNP spent only 13% of EU referendum campaign limit

Posted On: 
29th November 2016

The SNP spent just over £90,000 on its campaign to keep the UK in the European Union despite having a limit of £700,000, the Electoral Commission has revealed.

Nicola Sturgeon stands united with Holyrood's other party leaders
PA Images

The party spent £64,105 on leaflets and £26,725 on advertising during the referendum campaign period.

The figure amounts to 13% of the limit and contrasts with its spending during the 2014 independence referendum, when it spent £1.3m, 97% of the maximum allowed.

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It also spent £1.48m, or 83% of the limit, during the 2015 general election, when the Nationalists swept up 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster.

The Herald newspaper also points out that the SNP spent less on the referendum than it did a 2008 parliamentary by-election for Glenrothes.

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: "As is often the case, when it comes to delivering on their warm words the Nationalists are found wanting."

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said the outcome of the EU vote, which saw Scotland vote to remain in the bloc but the UK as a whole back Brexit, made a second independence referendum “highly likely”.

The SNP's reported spending was less than pro-Remain campaign groups such as Scientists for EU (£198,664), Wake Up and Vote (£96,893), major trade unions such as Unite (£140,173) and the GMB (£96,430) and the Leave backing JD Wetherspoons (£94,586).

The largest single item of expenditure by the SNP was just over £23,000 on 1.75 million copies of a leaflet titled ‘You And Your Family Are Better Off In Europe’.

It spent £4,500 on advertising on Facebook and £1,000 on a Twitter campaign.

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, said the figure “reveals the low priority that [the SNP] gave the referendum. They hardly lifted a finger during the referendum.” 

An SNP spokesperson said: "The SNP ran a strong, positive and effective campaign, helping to successfully secure the overwhelming 62% vote for Remain in Scotland.

"It’s time Willie Rennie revealed how much the LibDems spent on their campaign in Scotland and, more importantly, if he will support our proposals to keep Scotland in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves."

The figures came from the Electoral Commission’s returns for “permitted participants” that spent between £10,000 and £250,000.