By a Newsnet reporter
The SNP has written to the Information Commissioner calling for action to be taken to ensure the UK Government publishes the details of its polling on the referendum – after it emerged that the true cost now stands at £300,000.
The UK Government has dismissed previous calls for transparency around its polling on the referendum – and has rejected Freedom of Information requests on the issue, arguing that the polling was used to formulate government policy.
This is despite the findings of the poll, carried out by Ipsos-MORI, being shared with key figures in the No camp and being used to inform their campaign against independence. There were claims that the survey showed a surge in support for a Yes vote.
The Sunday Post recently reported that the findings of the poll had been passed to the Better Together campaign and were being used to inform the organisation’s campaign strategy.
In his letter, Mr Crawford writes: "It is entirely unacceptable for the UK Government to use public funds in this way and to continue to withhold the information.
"In the interests of fairness and transparency, I believe that the polling details should be published as requested by the original Freedom of Information request.
"In any event, I am concerned that the UK Government may seek to delay processing Freedom of Information requests and FOI appeals on this matter until after the referendum, and therefore would be grateful if you could intervene in order to ensure that they are properly responded to by the UK Government in advance of September's vote."
The need for transparency on the polling has grown even greater in recent days after it emerged that the true cost of the polls now stands at £300,000 – much greater than the previously accepted figure of £140,000.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:
"The UK Government has spent £300,000 of public money on what is essentially private polling for the No campaign - it is unacceptable that taxpayers are expected to bankroll the No camp in this way.
"With the true cost of this polling seemingly rising all the time – and with the UK Government refusing to publish the details in response to FOI requests – I have written to the Information Commissioners north and south of the border asking that they intervene to ensure that the FOI requests are properly responded to before the referendum.
"The UK Government has tried to fob off FOIs by saying that the polling was used to formulate government policy. This excuse just doesn’t wash when the results have been shared with the No campaign – and the policy of the UK Government was already avowedly anti-independence.
"It doesn’t matter how bad the poll’s findings are for David Cameron and the No campaign – people in Scotland paid for these polls and they have a right to see the results in full."