Brian Monteith is a former Tory student chairman and Conservative MSP. He is now editor of ThinkScotland.org
When does a party political campaign group lose any credibility it might hope to have? There can be many reasons, but in the case of Labour for Independence it is when it appears to live on life support provided by politicians from other parties. This is not just a developing scandal exposing the Machiavellian approach of separatist campaigners at the highest level. It is a warning to all parties about how open they can be to subversion from outside.
Back in April 2012, quite early on in Ruth Davidson’s leadership, the Scottish Conservative Party established Conservative Friends of the Union. (Not to be mistaken for the group ‘Friends of the Union’ established in 1986 by Ian Gow, John Biggs Davison and a dozen other Tory MPs, whose main focus was the relationship with Northern Ireland). The Party hoped to reach out beyond its existing support, saying: “It’s not just for our members, our activists, our voters. It’s for anyone in Scotland who wants to help the cause.” In other words, anyone who believed in maintaining the Acts of Union.
Soon, according to the party press statements voters were happily signing up with 50,000 members reported by the Daily Telegraph and £150,000 raised from mostly small donations – although its more transparent Facebook page currently displays only 682 likes.