Socialist Worker

SNP slammed over payout to cronies as its MPs cash in on property deals

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2474

The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) teflon coating has begun to come unstuck after revelations of a handout to a big music promoter and MPs cashing in on property deals. 

MSPs grilled SNP culture minister Fiona Hyslop last week over a £150,000 Scottish government handout to a music festival run by DF Concerts.

There is a strong whiff of cronyism about the deal. 

Jennifer Dempsie, ex SNP leader Alex Salmond’s former special adviser, worked for DF Concerts at the time. She brokered the meeting that led to the payout.

Last week also saw the scandal grow over new SNP MP Michelle Thomson’s property deals—just as it was revealed that 16 SNP MPs make rather a lot of money from their own property portfolios.

A Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal ruling said that Thomson had a “central role” in property deals that could have involved mortgage fraud. 

The Crown Office has ordered an investigation relating to 13 suspect deals in 2010 and 2011 in which Thomson used the services of solicitor Christopher Hales.

Guilty

Hales was struck off last year after being found guilty of professional misconduct in making the deals on behalf of Thomson and her business partner. 

The tribunal said Thomson “must have been aware that there was a possibility he was facilitating mortgage fraud, whether or not this occurred”.

Thomson and her husband have built up a property portfolio, worth £1.7 million, by buying homes at knockdown prices from families in financial hardship.

Since last year’s independence referendum and the SNP’s general election landslide victory it seemed that no amount of bad news could stick and tarnish the SNP’s progressive appearance. 

People see it as the best vehicle to achieve independence, even though the Scottish government’s record of cuts is at odds with its well cultivated “anti-austerity” image, 

But these scandals could well shear some of that support away. The party presents itself as an alternative to a shabby “Westminster elite” and on the side of ordinary people.

It seems the SNP has the capacity to be just as shabby as the rest.


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