By a Newsnet reporter
Attacks by anti-independence campaign Better Together on a pro-independence animation have boomeranged after it emerged a phrase, deemed offensive by the pro-Union group, was actually coined by a former Labour MP.
The Duggy Dug animation, voiced by Holywood actor Brian Cox, which depicts a future Scotland after a No vote, has been slammed by officials from the No campaign who have claimed it amounts to an attack on women.
The accusation centres on a segment of the animation that depicts Better Together head Alistair Darling and Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont as having been given honours in a future Scotland. The graphic contains a caption which says ‘Lady Johann Lamont’ next to a slogan which says ‘vermin in ermine’.
Better Together officials have claimed the animation amounts to a sexist attack.
A spokesman for Better Together said: “This is yet another absolutely disgraceful attack on a woman by a nationalist group.
“We are quite sure that Brian Cox had no idea that his voice would be appearing over something quite as unacceptable as this.
“We hope that news net do the decent thing, take down the film and apologise. Calling someone ‘vermin’ because you happen to disagree with them is just not on.”
Better Together communications director Rob Shorthouse went further and accused Newsnet Scotland of actually going after women.
In a tweet the official said: “So @NewsnetScotland are the latest Nat group to go after women – calling Johann Lamont ‘vermin’ in their latest promo.”
However the accusations from the anti-independence campaign group have been ridiculed by a member of the team behind the popular animation series who pointed out that the term ‘vermin in ermine’ was coined by former Labour MP John Prescott.
In a statement to Newsnet Scotland, a spokesperson said: “If Better Together are criticising the phrase ‘vermin in ermine’, then that attack has rebounded back on them because it was coined not by ourselves or Newsnet Scotland, but by former Labour MP John Prescott.
“We used John Prescott’s ‘vermin in ermine’ term in order to illustrate the hypocrisy that surrounds Labour politicians when it comes to the House of Lords.”
The spokesperson also dismissed the suggestion that the animation was anti-female pointing out that the animator behind the series of cartoons is a woman.
The spokesperson added: “The claim that this animation constitutes an attack on someone because that person is female ludicrous. Better Together are clearly unaware that animator involved in the Duggy Dug series is also a woman.”
The spokesman also accused the No campaign of trying to stifle freedom of expression from within the artistic community.
He added: “This latest Duggy Dug animation marries art and satire to make a legitimate political point. Johann Lamont is not immune from having the satirical spotlight thrust upon on her in the same way that Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon are not immune.
“Obviously this form of expression makes the NO campaign uncomfortable – it’s too close to the truth perhaps.
“There are many examples of the First Minister being the subject of attacks by artists and cartoonists, and we would defend the right of any artist to express themselves in this way.
“These latest contrived attacks by Better Together appear to be an attempt at intimidating the pro-Yes artistic community into staying out of the debate, something we should all resist.”
Commenting on behalf of Newsnet Scotland, a spokesperson said: “The Duggy Dug series of animations have provided an alternative look at the independence debate.
“Duggy has covered issues including oil, the EU, borders and the pound. The latest animation highlighted areas of concern should Scots vote No. It is telling that Better Together chose to ignore the threats to Scotland’s budget, public services and education.
“The reaction from Better Together to a phrase that was actually coined by a Labour MP tells you all you need to know about a campaign that is now reduced to trying to portray each and every criticism of them as somehow based on gender. Is John Prescott now to be accused of attacking every female peer?
“They, and their media friends, are silent when confronted by very real abuse as evidenced by a recent Newsnet Scotland article that highlighted several examples from Scottish Labour politicians, including Johann Lamont herself who tried to use a fabricated rape case in order to attack the SNP.”
At the time of publication, the animation has been viewed by over 8000 people – over 2400 on Youtube and over 5600 on the Newsnet Scotland website.