Better Together chief left red faced after ‘stolen language’ claim backfires

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
A claim by leaders of the No campaign that the SNP has ‘stolen’ key slogans from it has backfired after it emerged it hijacked its own campaign name from the Scottish NHS.
 
Yesterday Better Together boss Blair McDougall launched an attack on the SNP after Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said independence for Scotland represented the “best of both worlds” for the people of Scotland.

Mr McDougall claimed that the phrase belonged to his anti-independence group and accused the nationalists of seeking to “steal our language”.

The Better Together Campaign Director said: “Their attempt to steal our language is an embarrassing admission that it is our pro-devolution campaign that is offering what the clear majority of people in Scotland want, not the independence campaign.”

However Mr McDougall has been left embarrassed after being reminded that his own campaign name ‘Better Together’ was actually lifted from a Scottish NHS campaign.

As exclusively revealed by Newsnet Scotland on the day the No campaign launched, ‘Better Together’ is the official slogan for the Scottish NHS’s patient experience programme and, at the time of its hijack by the No campaign, had been in use for over four years.

The patient scheme was originally announced in March 2007 by the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration, before being officially launched by then Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon 11 months later in February 2008.

‘Better Together’ is also the name of an Irish Charity Campaign, as well as the name of a national campaign in Wales aimed at encouraging over fifties to keep fit.

Compounding Mr McDougall’s gaffe, it has emerged that the ‘Better Together’ slogan wasn’t the only element of the No campaign to face accusations it had been copied.

On its official launch day the anti-independence campaign faced claims it had lifted its anthem from its opponents after journalists present at both launches were said to have been startled at the similarity between it and the song already being used by Yes Scotland.

Yes Scotland had been granted permission to use the rock anthem “One Great Thing” which was a hit for the late Stuart Adamson’s band Big Country in the eighties.

The Yes Scotland ‘Big Country’ anthem

According to Yes Scotland: “The song was chosen, because becoming independent is one great thing we can do for the future of Scotland.  It is a song that gives a sense of the importance, excitement and potential of becoming independent.”

However the No campaign song, ‘Down Under’, which was created by Scottish DJ/producer Munroso and used for the official launch of ‘Better Together’, appeared to have been lifted from the Big Country classic.

The No campaign ‘Munroso’ song

Despite the similarity, the No campaign said the composition used at its launch “was categorically not the same tune” as the one used by its rival.

Speaking at the time, a Better Together spokesman said their piece of music “neither samples, nor uses, nor is inspired by Big Country”.

The attacks by Blair McDougall follows a change in tactic from his anti-independence group which has been mired in controversy over its over reliance on negativity and scares.

Recent weeks has witnessed an escalation in the use of smear stories with attacks on pro-independence group Labour for Independence, which Better Together and the Scottish Labour party have labelled an SNP front.  Key figures involved in Labour for Independence (LFI) have also been attacked.

However images released by the pro-Union campaign in order to bolster its claim were later revealed to have been altered with a caption containing key information removed from one image and another image cropped to remove a Yes Scotland banner.

The attack on his group was described by LFI founder Allan Grogan as “dirty tricks”.  Speaking to the Herald, Mr Grogan said: “Initially Labour’s plan appears to have been to ignore us. That wasn’t working and it has become clear that we were showing links to the wider Labour movement.”

The latest claim that the SNP has stolen language from Better Together was dismissed by an SNP insider who said: “It’s arrogant of the No campaign to claim ownership of language.”