SNP to receive $8.24 million if they refuse coalition


The Scottish National Party (SNP) could be eligible for $8.24 million of state funding if they refuse to join a coalition government according to figures calculated by Newsweek.

Less then a year after the party campaigned to leave the union in Scotland's independence referendum last September, the SNP has seen their popularity surge on the back of growing dissatisfaction among Scots with the UK political establishment.

The SNP are now projected to win up to 53 seats and 4% of the national vote in today's UK-wide general election according to the latest poll by Panelbase, which would make them the third biggest party in Westminster.

If these projections are correct, the party could be eligible for over $8.24 million of financial assistance under the UK's 'Short Money' scheme, provided they do not go into government.

The Short Money system was set up in 1975 by British Labour politician Edward Short who proposed the scheme to make funding available to "all opposition parties in the House of Commons that secured either two seats or one seat and more than 150,000 votes at the previous General Election" according to UK parliament records. The idea behind it is to help opposition parties finance their running costs.

Parties which clear these requirements are eligible to receive £16,689.13 ($25,466.78) for every seat won at the last election plus £33.33 ($50.86) for every 200 votes gained by the party.

The SNP claimed over £187,000 ($285,352.65) in Short Money in 2014/15, with a similar amount paid to them annually after winning six seats in the 2010 general election.

The Times newspaper estimates that the Britain's eurosceptic UK Independence Party (Ukip) could be awarded £2.5 million ($3.81 million) after the general election, as long as it wins just one parliamentary seat and secures at least 10% of the overall vote.

However, neither the SNP nor Ukip will be eligible for Short Money should they form part of a coalition government, unless the scheme is reformed. In 2010 the Leader of the House Sir George Young who is responsible for the scheme, twice denied that the Liberal Democrats were to receive the funding despite the fact they were the junior partner in the coalition government.

As polls indicate neither Labour nor the Conservatives will win a majority, it has become increasingly likely that today's election will result in a coalition government. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she is open to working with Labour to keep a Tory government out, while Ukip party leader Nigel Farage has said he would work with the Conservative party should they agree to Ukip's policies on Europe.

The Labour party received the largest amount of Short Money in 2014/2015, over £6.6 million ($10.07 million), a substantial amount more than the second highest earner from the scheme which was the SNP who received £187,294.34 for the same period.

This is in part due to the fact that as the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband was eligible for another pot under the Short Money system, allowing his office to claim a further £777,538 ($1,186,484.11).