We at the TaxPayers’ Alliance have been vocal in the last few weeks about the importance of taxpayers’ cash not being used to bolster either side in the forthcoming EU referendum campaign. With established campaign groups funded by private donations forming to make the respective cases for Leave and Remain, it is vital that politicians across the UK do not feel it appropriate to spend taxpayer pounds on skewing the debate one way or the other.
So it was with great disappointment that we read this morning that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon intends using both taxpayers’ money and the time of her civil servants to campaign for Scots to vote to remain in the European Union. Indeed, the First Minister’s office confirmed last night that the Scottish Government will be publishing materials using money from “existing budgets” in the run up to the June 23 referendum, and this week more public money and resources were spent on Ms. Sturgeon coming to London to deliver a speech pushing a Remain vote.
This isn’t the first time that the Scottish Government has misappropriated taxpayer revenue. An astonishing £1.3 million was spent on the heavily criticised Scottish independence White Paper before the referendum in 2014. The Holyrood government is now expected to publish a shorter document using taxpayers’ money to set out in “broad terms” the benefits for Scotland of remaining in the EU.
With taxpayers divided on the EU question and government departments calling foul about cuts to their budgets, we must keep a close watch on how taxpayers’ money is being used to campaign for either side in this upcoming referendum. The job of government is to provide the taxpayer bang for their buck, not frizzle away their hard-earned money on divisive political campaigns.
Funnelling our cash to bolster one side of the argument would be an abuse of power and we should not stand for it.