A senior SNP councillor has quizzed party bosses about a £1m fundraiser for indyref2 that was abandoned.

Councillor Chris McEleny yesterday used a meeting of the SNP’s national executive committee (NEC) to ask what had happened to cash that was raised in 2017.

He declined to comment, but a party insider criticised him: “I think Chris believes the NEC is like a council meeting.”

In March 2017, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for another independence referendum, after which the SNP immediately made an appeal on a new website, ref.scot, for funds.

The site popularised the #ScotRef hashtag and featured a video appeal from the SNP leader, who urged Yessers to sign a pledge “to support Scotland’s referendum”.

Her pitch included an appeal to “make a donation today”, with suggestions of monthly sums of £5, £10, £25, £50 and £100.


Image: a retrieved web-page from ref.scot

A target of £1m was set and it was reported that the fundraising drive pulled in at least £482,000, which would have been a sizeable boost to any campaign.

The blurb at the bottom of the website stated it was “promoted” by party chief executive Peter Murrell on behalf of the SNP. Murrell is married to Sturgeon.

However, plans for indyref 2 fell flat later in that year after the Nationalists suffered a disappointing general election result.

The SNP lost around 500,000 votes and nearly twenty seats, and Sturgeon hit the pause button on her referendum plan.

The cash appeal disappeared from the website after the election and was replaced by an error message: “The page you were looking for was not found.”

An SNP spokesman said at the time: "Money raised on ref.scot is ringfenced for the purpose stated on the website - and we haven't been actively raising money on that website since the election was called in April. Our general election appeal will pay for election campaign expenditure."

Sturgeon recently announced a new timetable for a referendum and another fundraising venture was launched on a different website.

McEleny, the SNP group leader on Inverclyde council, yesterday asked questions at the party’s NEC about the first cash plea.

An SNP source said he asked how much had been raised in 2017, what had happened to the cash, and whether it had been subsumed into the new fundraising pot.

It is understood no answers could be provided as the SNP treasurer was not present.

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There is no suggestion of impropriety, but a senior SNP activist said financial transparency is important.

Sturgeon was present for part of the NEC and Murrell was also in attendance.

Meanwhile, it is understood a complaint has been made to the SNP about McEleny about his comments on trans rights.

The councillor has been a critic of plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, which would make it simpler for an individual to change gender.

The SNP did not respond to a request for a comment.