Demands for transparency over funding of George Square demo
Questions have been raised about the funding of a pro-independence rally being held by disgraced politician Tommy Sheridan.
People attending his Hope Over Fear demo are questioning why they have been asked to provide donations to the event at George Square, Glasgow on Sunday (12 October) – before and during it.
Meanwhile, mystery surrounds the involvement of an East Kilbride community organisation, Communities United Promoting Inclusion (CUPI).
A tweet which appears to have been sent by Sheridan under his @citizentommy handle – and subsequently retweeted by him and others – asks for cheques for the event to be made out to CUPI.
But although the organisation is based in Greenhills, the tweet asks for cheques to be sent to an address in Cardonald, Glasgow.
This happens to be Sheridan’s home address.
CUPI appears to be run by John Park, a supporter of Sheridan’s Solidarity party. He is described on CUPI’s website as an “organiser” and is involved in updating the group’s Facebook page.
People took to the Hope Over Fear Facebook page to ask questions about the event’s funding – looking for breakdowns of and transparency over how the money is being raised and how it will be spent.
One poster said: “There needs to be much more transparency about who is funding this event, how much they are paying and who any donations will be going to. Doesn't seem too much to ask... I've been to many rallies recently and none has asked for donations.”
Another said: “I hear others asking for transparency, give it to them! or risk the fact that peopke (sic) will ask questions as they have here.
“Personally I think allowing donations is fine to cover costs but nothing else. I believe in the cause and support you to keep up the momentum but please give us all the info asked for and I am certain donations will flow.”
Yet another queried: “I was at previous Yes rallies and know people who organised them... None asked for donations. And none were funded by millionaires or businessmen, all by volunteers. All I am asking for is a breakdown of the costs, after which like I said I will be happy to donate? You have only said it "costs thousands" but haven't said what parts actually cost money, surely a breakdown isn't too much to ask for?”
A Hope Over Fear page moderator said: “We as a group are not funded by any millionaires or businesses. All of this is being organised by working class campaigners. Costs for hosting a rally like this runs into the thousands.”
CUPI, Hope Over Fear and Sheridan have all been asked to comment.
The Hope Over Fear rally has already provoked controversy after foodbanks were drawn into a bitter row over who would be speaking at it.
Glasgow’s Needy, which organised a food collection in George Square following unionist violence after the 18 September independence referendum, claimed it has been “snubbed” by rally organisers when it asked to participate.
There followed accusations of threats and abuse being issued from both sides. East Kilbride based foodbank Loaves and Fishes has agreed to speak at the rally.
The Hope Over Fear event is based primarily around Sheridan, who was jailed for lying in court over claims he attended a seedy swingers’ club.
Its main movers are Sheridan’s followers and two small socialist factions – the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) – both of whom supported Sheridan when he broke from the Scottish Socialist Party.
Although they haven’t billed it as a party political rally, the CWI and the SWP have prominent members lined up to speak at the rally alongside Sheridan and Sweet Sixteen actor Martin Compston.
Sheridan organised a series of Hope Over Fear tours during the referendum after being frozen out of the official campaign by the leaders of Yes Scotland. Other prominent pro-yes groups, such as Radical Independence and Women for Independence, refused to share platforms with him.