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BBC Scotland's David Allison reports
"Whether any other parties follow the SNP's lead remains to be seen"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 18:22 GMT
Nationalists unveil new party line

snp blimp The SNP hopes its line will send income soaring

The Scottish National Party has become the first political party in Britain to launch its own premium rate phone line.

The party launched the project in an attempt to raise revenue, by encouraging supporters to call a number to hear the latest news.

Callers can listen to views from leading party figures including leader Alex Salmond. There can also access stories from the SNP 'news desk' and details of organisational matters.

alex salmond Alex Salmond will record messages
Dorothy Grace Elder MSP said she would be recording a humorous diary of events in parliament.

The party said the line was an important revenue raiser because it does not have the support other parties enjoy from big businesses and trades unions.

A new company "Independence Merchandising Limited" has been set up to deal in products and items with an independence theme.

CD Success

The line follows the party's Christmas release of a CD of Scottish songs.

"A New Sang - Twelve Songs for Scottish Independence" featured Mr Salmond singing his version of "Rowan Tree" and contributions from some traditional Scottish singers and musicians, including Karen Mathieson, Dougie Maclean, Anne Lorne Gillies, Deaf Shepherd, Macumba, and Jim Malcolm.

SNP supporters The party wants supporters to dial p for profit
The SNP's fundraising vice convener, Pete Wishart, said the premium rate line was intended to take the idea forward.

He said: "Following the success of our fundraising CD we discovered that there was a sizeable market for independence related merchandise and we are now keen to develop this market and introduce new items.

"We are currently looking at a wide variety of new products from clothing and videos to computer software.

Labour scorn

"Scottish independence is a very saleable concept and we will now be selling independence the brand to assist independence the political cause.

"Information-based premium lines have been successful in the entertainment industry and we are sure that it will be just as successful in politics"

John Reid and guitar John Reid: SNP "tone-deaf"
But Scottish Secretary John Reid ridiculed the phone line, comparing the SNP to Rodney and Del Boy Trotter in the television series Only Fools and Horses.

"First they gave us an excruciating CD for the tone deaf - now they've moved into the chatline business," he said.

"Not content with flogging dead-duck policies, now they expect Scots to phone in to hear Dorothy Grace Elder's diary and Kenny McAskill's explanation of why he signed up to Germany's Word Cup bid.

"Their plan to set up an Independence Merchandising Company sounds more like something that Rodney and Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses would cook than a serious ideas from a party that would lay claim to running Scotland."

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See also:
29 Nov 99 |  Scotland
SNP's songs for Scotland

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