Citizens rally at Better Together HQ: “Sue us Too!”
By Nick Durie
This week started badly for the Better Together campaign. A poll (above) published on Monday found that 56% of Scots who had formed an opinion want Better Together to return the £500,000 donation, from multi-millionaire Tory donor Ian Taylor.
The beleaguered No campaign were shut down on Monday when dozens of people arrived to protest Better Together’s Glasgow headquarters to demand the No campaign return the £500,000 “dirty money”.
Gathering at Better Together’s HQ in the city’s Blythswood Square, protestors highlighted revelations regarding Mr Taylor’s company which saw others face legal threats. Asking Better Together to “Sue me too,” the demonstrators mocked the NO campaign, by openly stating what had seen others face legal threats, and by carrying ‘haud yer wheesht’ placards, and taping over their mouths. The NO campaign was forced to shut up shop for the day, in an attempt to avoid a further loss of face.
The rally, aimed at raising the pressure on Better Together, is part of a series of protests planned to force the NO campaign to return the controversial donation.
Previously Labour MP John Mann had labelled Taylor’s cash “dirty money,” and Labour leader Ed Miliband called for a public inquiry after Taylor donated £550,000 to the Conservative Party. The Labour leader said that he was concerned about the rise in “cash for access.” Mr Taylor’s extensive business interests as boss of the world’s largest commodity trading firm include close business relationships with those imposing fracking on pristine parts of Scotland’s central belt, endangering habitats, wildlife, communities and families along Stirling Carse to the Firth of Forth, in a greedy pursuit of profit with grave consequences for future generations.
Given Mr Miliband’s urgent concern over cash for access when Taylor gave money to the Conservatives, the suspicion has been raised that Taylor’s donation to Better Together could be seen as equally self-serving. The fracking process is known to be very destructive to the environment, and poisons water supplies. Plans Taylor’s associates are pursuing involve pumping untreated waste directly into the forth, inevitably corrupting the water table right across one of the most populous parts of Scotland.
As one demonstrator, Richard, speculated, “What? What do you mean that Vitol is a highly dubious corporation, known to fund paramilitary murderers and avoids paying taxes? What? There’s more? Their boss, Ian Taylor, who is a regular donor to the Tory Party has given £500000 to the ‘No’ Campaign, possibly from his share of the money that should have gone to HMRC? Really? Vitol has interests in the development of fracking in central Scotland? You mean this could be an incentive to ensure fracking rights?”
Future demonstrations at the NO campaign’s plush but anonymous HQ aim to focus on specific allegations of Taylor’s links to corruption, misconduct, and organised crime. If the NO campaign thought they could allow this storm to blow over, this week it became clear that it won’t go away.
Nick Durie is a community activist in Glasgow.