Anger as pro-union group caught touting for sham ‘volunteers’

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​Anti-independence group in fake activists row

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4th August 2014 by Graham Martin 7 Comments

Campaigners opposed to Scottish independence have been accused of making a mockery of volunteering – by giving people cash to distribute material.

A pro-union group has been offering £25 plus £10 travel expenses to ‘volunteers’ willing to hand out propaganda at major events.

The Proud To Be Scottish – Delighted To Be United group on Facebook offered the incentive in the run up to last month’s Open golf tournament in Aberdeen.

The no campaign has to pay people to push its negative message that Scots should continue with Westminster austerity

A members only group, it styles itself as being “designed to organise volunteers visiting events in Scotland this summer”.

Posting on 4 July, someone called Jack MacDonald said: “Right guys, anyone that wants to make a quick buck, we are now paying volunteers £25 to help out at events. It’s very easy work (just giving out car stickers to those that want them). Let me know if you are interested!”

As well as the cash, ‘volunteers’ are also offered a place to stay.

The group’s actions have been criticised by some who say encouraging ‘activism’ through cash payments undermines the ethos of voluntary service.

A Third Sector For Yes source said: “This makes a mockery of volunteering, which isn't paid. It is demeaning for people on both sides of the debate who are giving up their time freely to talk to the people of Scotland.

"Volunteering plays an important role in politics and is the backbone of parties that don't have huge donors behind them. If you start pulling people into work, then its not that undermines that voluntary action."

A spokesman for the official Yes Scotland campaign said: “‘Over the past couple of years, we’ve built the biggest grassroots organisation Scotland has ever seen and it’s our army of dedicated voters that will be taking our positive message – that Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands – to each and every doorstep in Scotland.

 “They’re motivated by the prospect of building a fairer and wealthier Scotland and their desire to help win a Yes vote has seen them campaign in hail, sleet and snow.

“In contrast, the no campaign, we understand, has to pay people to push its negative message that Scots should continue with Westminster austerity.”

Better Together, the official pro-union campaign, declined to comment.

7th August 2014 by Robert Peffers

The BT practice is widespread and I don't know anyone in any way surprised.

13th August 2014 by James Boag

I really hope that they are being told that they have to declare the £35 to the tax man, or is this another Shhh don't tell the tax man Better together moment !

13th August 2014 by MJack

I believe that staff payments are excluded from the official maximum amount that each lead group can spend so paying people to come and distribute is an externalised payment.

13th August 2014 by Steve Bowers

I think we should all "volunteer " to help, then hand out YES stuff, t'would be a hoot !

13th August 2014 by Richard Duncan

How does this affect the benefits these folk are on, are they committing benefit fraud.

14th August 2014 by James McConnell

I think when you are paying "volunteers" to hand out material, it is tantamount to paying voters to vote for you. If I'm not mistaken, it is against the law and might be called bribery and corruption?

20th August 2014 by emorris

This is a very old lie putabout by yes voters and is two months old