A £500,000 pledge of support from Scottish entrepreneur Brian Souter is to be used by the SNP to help propel its bid for a second historic term in government.

Announcing the pledge today, the party launched a Double your Donation online fundraising appeal at www.snp.org reaching out to supporters for small donations. Mr Souter will match pound-for-pound all small donations received by 31 March up to £500,000. Together it is hoped the appeal will raise £1 million.

The party has 50 days to meet the challenge and swell its coffers by £1 million before the start of the campaign proper in April.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said:-“The SNP’s campaigns and our work to make Scotland a better country have always been powered by the efforts of ordinary Scots with Scotland’s best interests at heart.

“Brian Souter is one of the outstanding entrepreneurs of his generation with a passionate belief in Scotland.  This offer to match every small donation the SNP receives up to £500,000 will power our fundraising for this campaign, and double the impact of every penny put toward re-electing an SNP Government in May.

“In 2007 we broke our fundraising target of £1 million.  In 2011 we can go further.

“The SNP have the record, we have the people at every level, and we have the only vision for a better future for Scotland as an equal and independent nation.

“This election campaign is a campaign to protect Scotland’s progress and to build Scotland’s future.  To ensure the record achievements of the last four years – freezing  the council tax, delivering 1,000 more police officers, driving forward Scotland’s renewable energy industry, making healthcare better, faster and cleaner, training 20,000 apprentices in the last year and moving to a record 25,000 next year, and restoring free education – are maintained, and that a Government with the experience and vision to take Scotland forward is re-elected.

“Across Scotland there are thousands of people who have never donated to a political party before who will take this opportunity to make a contribution, large or small, towards re-electing an SNP Government and working with us to be part of better.”

Mr Brian Souter, who sets out the double your donation pledge in a video on the SNP website said:

“Today I am offering to match the giving of other Members and friends of the SNP pound for pound up to a total of £500,000.

“Alex Salmond and his team have run a professional administration at Holyrood for the last 4 years and freezing the Council Tax has benefitted every Scottish family by more than £300. Furthermore, they have delivered most of their promises despite being a minority Government.

“I believe Alex deserves another kick of the ball and as we face challenging times we need the type of strong leadership he has demonstrated.”