By a Newsnet reporter
An online business survey being distributed by the Better Together campaign has been criticised after it emerged that only options critical of independence are permitted.
Newsnet Scotland can reveal that the anti-independence group has been sending unsolicited emails to business owners in Scotland asking them to fill in a questionnaire and list areas of concern they have over “separation”.
The survey does not provide the respondent with an opportunity to express support for independence or to detail their fears should Scotland remain in the Union.
The form’s initial question asks each business whether the prospect of ‘separating’ from the UK raises concerns and offers Yes/No and Don’t Know as options. There is no opportunity for a reply in favour of independence, or to raise concerns over the effect of a No vote.
Incredibly, respondents are then asked what impact separation would have on their business and informed they must select at least one from a list of six key areas, that includes defence, currency and EU membership.
The form also prompts the business respondents to enter questions on how separation will affect them and promises to ask the Scottish government on their behalf. The respondents are also invited to a live webchat with head of Better Together, Labour MP Alistair Darling.
Newsnet Scotland was alerted to the survey after a business owner in Moray received one of the forms in the business email account.
The unsolicited email arrived from an official ‘Better Together’ source and asked the recipient to enter personal details relating to the recipient and their business, and posed a number of what the business owner felt were leading questions.
The business owner believed that independence would have no negative impact on the issues listed and left the list of six key areas untouched, however the Better Together system would not accept the form – instead demanding at least one be selected.
A spokesperson for the business said: “Unfortunately, the Better Together survey would not accept having the owner’s belief that none of the issues listed would impact on their business, and demanded that at least one box was ticked.
The spokesperson questioned the validity of the survey and said it effectively refused to take no for an answer. Expressing a worry that it might be used to attack the Yes campaign, he added: “If so, how can any business owner who supports independence possibly complete this form?”
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