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Scotland: campaign finance rules will vary depending on who calls referendum on independence from UK

The Herald reports: A referendum on independence could lead to unfair and unbalanced campaigning by political parties if it were called by Holyrood, it has emerged.

John McCormick, the Electoral Commission s Scottish member, said yesterday that the current election law, passed in 2000, would set clear rules if Westminster calls another national referendum, including a cap on campaign finance, registration of non-party campaign organisations and a register of donors. The Electoral Commission chairman, currently Sam Younger, would be the national referendum returning officer, or he could delegate that role.

But that does not apply to the Scottish Parliament if it calls a referendum, meaning the campaign could be skewed by large amounts of money, without its source being open, allowing one side to dominate the campaign.

With the SNP wanting a referendum in autumn 2010 and with Labour s Holyrood leader, Wendy Alexander, saying she will back one, at least in principle, the rules to ensure a fair fight are far from clear. -- Fairness Warning On Rules For Referendum from The Herald

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