Vote No Borders – The grass roots campaign, financed & directed from Tories in London.
Vote No Borders is a recently formed campaign group that claims to be “grassroots” & non-party political. Its objective is to lobby against Scottish independence.
Vote No Borders registered with Companies House in London on the 18th March 2014. Its address is shown as 24 Chiswell Street, London. Two directors are named; Mr. Malcolm Offord, previously a Senior Partner at Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP & Ms. Fiona Gilmore, director of Acanchi Ltd which coincidentally also records its business address as 24 Chiswell Street, London. Mr. Gilmore records that his domiciled address in the west of London. Ms. Gilmore, VNB’s “Communications Advisor” also records a domicile address in London
Mr. Offord’s previous employer, Charterhouse Capital Partners is a private equity investment firm focusing on leveraged buyout of established, substantial businesses, based in Western Europe. He is currently engaged with Watling Street Capital Partners, London Scottish International Limited, Tigerbrook Property Ltd, Badenoch Advisors Ltd & several other trusts & charities. Meanwhile, Acanchi Ltd claims to be a pioneer in the field of developing holistic country positioning strategies.
Vote No Borders says it has at least £150,000 of cash assets which it says it is going to use to lobby against Scottish independence. Thus, it fully complied with the law & registered with the Electoral Commission as a permitted participant on the 19th March 2014. Vote No Borders is recorded as also having a permitted participant address at 26 Charlotte Square in Edinburgh, a prestigious street in the west end of the city. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament to regulate party & election finance & set standards for well-run elections. It is governed through a variety of UK Statute Laws.
Four days after registering with the electoral Commission, the Vote No Border’s website was registered on 21st March 2014 by Mr. Gary Waple, previously a director of Acanchi Ltd, until 2013. He is currently an associate at The Prudential Regulatory Authority at the Bank of England. VBN’s website registrant’s address is shown as 32-34 Great Marlborough Street, London.
Mr Offord, Director at Vote No Borders, is originally from Greenock but appears to have made a career mostly in the financial services sector in London. He has given multiple donations to the Conservative Party in excess of £120,000 pounds as well as personal donations to the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP. He is the author of the report “Bankrupt Britain” which is listed on the Conservative Home website. Mr. Offord’s philosophy appears to suggest further cuts in UK public spending & urges government to:
“Reform the bloated benefits system of this country to reduce the burden on the state and, just as importantly, boost the growth rate of the country”.
In addition to his private equity connections, Mr. Offord is a policy advisor at the Centre for Social Justice, established as an independent think-tank by the Rt. Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP in 2004. He is also on the board of trustees at Columba 1400, a Scottish charity that helps challenged teenagers. It has bases on the Isle of Skye & on Loch Lomond.
Ms. Fiona Gilmore as Director at Acanchi Ltd, claims to be a global lead in country rebranding/repositioning. It states on company records to have capital of £10,000. Ms. Gilmore is also a board member of Camfed, a charity based in Cambridge, England which educates African girls & supports young women to become leaders of change. She has another director’s role at Flowers of Union Ltd, formed on the 19th December 2013 with assets of £1. It is registered at 32-34 Great Marlborough Street, London which happens to be the same address on Acanchi Ltd’s website as their contact address & the same address that VBN used to register their web site. And while we’re on VNB’s website, it claims to be working with a music band to create a campaign song which, by amazing coincidence is called, “Flowers of Union”.
In summary then, we have two people based & working in London who have established a company in London, with the objective of lobbying against Scottish independence. Mr. Offord is a generous donator to the Conservative Party while acting as an advisor to a Conservative think tank. Ms. Gilmore’s brings her country rebranding expertise to the table while Mr. Waple, who is also based & working in London, appears to have been responsible for getting VBN’s website up & running.
In about six weeks then, this self proclaimed, “grass roots” lobbying group, without any prior publicity whatsoever, has raised at least £150,000, while appearing to be based almost entirely in London. It claims to be working with music artists in Scotland who are working on a song that matches the name of a company recently registered in London. Meanwhile, this “grass roots” campaign has a permitted participant address on one of the most expensive streets in Edinburgh.
The name used to describe the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization to make it appear as though it originates from & is supported by grassroots participants is called “Astroturfing”.