The self-styled and self-appointed “Transparent Referendum Initiative” needs to be transparent about its work with the YES campaign, Save the 8th has said. In recent weeks, the group has featured heavily in media reports and commentary on the referendum campaign, often raising questions about the role of online advertising and data analytics in the campaign.

However, it emerges that one of the group’s three founding members, a Mr. Peter Tanham, is also working for Together for Yes in a data analytics role.

In a tweet on February 8th, Mr. Tanham said “I am working with Ailbhe (Smith, leading figure in the YES campaign) on this… we are building out the team. A lot of the data work will be focused on metrics to figure out what is working online and on the doors”.

The tweet can be found here:

The Transparent Referendum Initiative has not clarified Mr. Tanham’s role, but has mentioned him prominently as a founder member. Save the 8th Communications Director John McGuirk said:

“If you are going to pose as a transparency watchdog, you need to be transparent. If you are going to pose as independent, you need to be independent.

So far, the Transparent Referendum Initiative is neither of those things. It is an entirely self-appointed watchdog group whose founder just so happens to be working for the YES campaign in the very data analytics role the group is posing as independent commentators about.

The prominence given to this group and their messages at this stage of the campaign raises serious questions. As a campaign, Save the 8th is eager to engage on issues around transparency in online advertising. We believe online advertising is fair, vital for campaigns, and a great way for the public to interact with the issues. Of course it is important that it not be abused.

However, the Transparent Referendum Initiative is no such thing. Given that one of its founders is also working for the YES campaign, it looks more like a transparent repeal initiative than a transparent referendum initiative.

We are calling today on the media to consider these issues before giving this group the undue prominence they have received to date”.