Just a quick update on a story I brought to you last month about SNP MSP Rob Gibson. He used adverts, funded by the Scottish Parliament, for his surgeries which included some heavy duty promotion of his staff who at the time were standing as candidates for Highland Council. Both were subsequently elected.
At the time, Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott complained to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body. The minutes of their most recent meeting have been published and show that:
The SPCB agreed to uphold complaints received about adverts placed by Rob Gibson MSP on the grounds that the adverts breached the guidance on the use of parliamentary resources. The SPCB also agreed to consider the wider issue of surgery advertising at a future meeting.
A spokesman for Tavish Scott and the Scottish Liberal Democrats said in response to this:
This was a clear breach of Scottish Parliament rules. Mr Gibson must have known that he could not promote SNP candidates using taxpayers’ money but chose to give it a go and hope that no one would notice.
People did notice and the Scottish Parliament has rightly ruled against him. It will be interesting to see how the SNP candidates in question account for the cost of these ‘adverts’ on their election expenses.
I’m sure a close eye will also be kept on the election expenses of every SNP candidate in Central Scotland after this advertisement appeared in the Metro the day before the Council election.
As there are no national campaign expenses during a local election, the cost is surely attributable equally among all candidates in the circulation area.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings