Astroturf Democracy



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”.



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  1. Dave Coull says:

    There has been something called the “No Borders” campaign around for a few years now. You might even have seen photos of them, with their banner proclaiming “No Borders” and an Anarchist circle A on it. That (genuine) No Borders group welcomes refugees, supports the free movement of workers, and campaigns against the restrictive immigration policies of the British state.

    But now there is a new, fake, “No Borders” group. Unlike the original one, this one supports the British state. Unlike the original one, this one does not campaign against the restrictive immigration policies of the British state. And unlike the original one, this one is enthusiastically in favour of the British state maintaining and strengthening its existing borders. The thing they are against is an independent Scotland with less restrictive immigration policies than the British state.

    Unfortunately, the original No Borders campaign, being anarchists, are unlikely to sue the fake one for the fraudulent use of their name.

    Or are they?

  2. North Chiel says:

    Excellent article George.
    Div ye mind buoy,div ye mind??

  3. Iain says:

    They should have stuck to country repositioning and making money, because their website isn’t great. The pictures of their supporters show people apparently on the verge of suicide, possibly at the prospect of independence. Their musical combo reminds me of wholesome Youth Fellowship enthusiasts, while the comments section is hilarious. They have had success if getting publicity from eager to please BBC ‘journalists’ counts as such, but that’s hardly a great achievement these days. I’m looking forward to their release of their campaign song and I’m sure it will remind us of the glory days of Cliff Richard’s cutting-edge hits.

  4. The comments on the VNB website are worth a read. This one is my current favourite because of the complete oversight of irony … “Because relying on ‘our’ oil, a fast depleting natural resource, as an economic boom is going to backfire in 50 years.” Sandy Williamson.

    It’s hard to imagine what life will be in 15 years so to predict something backfiring after 50 have passed is truly Biblical in capacity.

  5. tartanzen says:

    The fact that the BBC has recognised VNB and still ignore most of the Yes movement says it all…

  6. Steven Grubb says:

    The type of megalomania required for any individual to believe they can “rebrand” a country is what I find most bizarre in this story. Good exposé. Keep it up.

  7. Auld Rock says:

    Song will hopefully be as unsuccessful as UK’s Eurovision entry, LOL.

    Auld Rock

  8. I loved “Restless”, William Boyd’s novel which touches on Britain’s covert media manipulation in the USA. Fiona Gilmour is no Sally Fairchild!

  9. dickybeau says:

    Unfortunately, we have given this crew too much free publicity. The downside for them is that they don’t like the exposure at a personal level. I wonder how much more they will delete about themselves.

    If we have had any doubt about the task in hand, it should be clear now that the UK govt will use all it’s resources to prevent an independent Scotland. Complaining about it won’t make a whit of difference. The horses from this crew are out in open country.

  10. bellacaledonia says:

    See also National Collective’s formal complaint:

  11. roddymacdonald2014 says:

    I suspect Vote No Borders will last no longer than the last BBC flash in the pan. Remember Let Wallace Vote? Huge meeja coverage and a month later we have to rack our brains to remember who or what it was.

  12. northbritain says:

    Was on Vote No Borders facebook page: a plan to stifle debate and prevent women, in particular, getting access to information on independence. All to avoid a Yes vote!

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      This is a spoof. Sorry. WE were fooled as well.

  13. Free Scotland says:

    On the subject of “Vote no borders,” the ineptitude of those behind this misfiring propaganda machine is compounded by the fact that they registered the domain, but were just too dumb to register the .com domain. A few days in, and they’ve been exposed as utter buffoons. is frankly a waste of time, but is definitely worth a look.

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