Calls for Better Together to withdraw leaflets as more false claims exposed


  By a Newsnet reporter
The No campaign is facing fresh calls to withdraw campaign material after it emerged another key claim has been proven false.
According to Better Together, groceries purchased from supermarket giant Tesco will cost more if Scotland becomes an independent country.

In an official leaflet distributed by the anti-independence group, it claimed shopping would cost 16% more in an independent Scotland.

The leaflet contained what looked like a Tesco Supermarket receipt which was headed “Cost Of Independence”, at the bottom it compared shopping in the UK with shopping in Ireland and included a final total alongside which said, “Extra Cost: 16% higher”.

However quizzed by a concerned customer, an official from Tesco Customer Service said there was “no truth” in the claims.

“I can confirm this is not true as we’ve got a great business in Scotland and our job is to create the best offer for customers whatever the outcome of the referendum”. the Tesco official replied.

In a subsequent tweet, Tesco said: “Hi, we have a great business in Scotland and will continue to offer the best prices whatever the outcome of the referendum.”

The misleading leaflet was exposed by online site Wings over Scotland.  The revelations have prompted calls for Better Together to withdraw the leaflets.

SNP MSP Derek Mackay said: “Tesco’s clarification is welcome – the No campaign must withdraw their misleading leaflet as a matter of urgency. People across Scotland have already started casting their votes in the referendum – for them to be able to make the right choice they must be given the facts.

“That the decision was taken to include these ridiculous claims in their official referendum communication says it all – their complete lack of vision for Scotland means all they can do is scaremonger in a desperate attempt to convince people to vote No.

“On everything from pensions to pandas, the No campaign has pedaled fear and misinformation.  But we have seen their scare stories crumble one by one – and now they are clutching at any straw they can grab. They must pulp the fiction and get rid of these misleading leaflets at once.

“The reality is that more and more people are waking up to the opportunities a Yes vote will bring.  And with the polls showing the No campaign’s politics of fear is failing, I am confident that people across Scotland will choose the path to a fairer, more prosperous future that only a Yes vote can deliver.”

The issue of supermarket bills in an independent Scotland has already featured in pro-Union literature.  Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was featured in a earlier leaflet, in which she stated: “the major supermarkets have said there will be an increase in shopping bills if we leave the UK.”

Claims that supermarkets are planning to increase food prices if Scotland votes Yes in the independence referendum were dismissed last December by one of the big four supermarket giants.

Morrisons described media reports that they are preparing to hike prices in their Scottish Supermarkets as “wrong” and have revealed that the price may in fact fall if Scots vote Yes in 2014.

Commenting at the time, a Morrisons spokesman said: “On the issue of Scottish independence, we believe is for the people of Scotland to decide. It would be wrong to say Morrisons is predicting higher food prices at this stage if Scotland voted for independence.”

The episode is the latest in a series of exposés to have befallen the anti-independence campaign.

  • Claims that a newly independent Scotland would be prevented from using the pound dissolved when Better Together leader Alistair Darling conceded a newly independent Scotland could use Sterling if it wanted.
  • In another leaflet, the No campaign claimed a newly independent Scotland would be poorer than Pakistan, only for one of its own members to admit the claim was misleading.
  • Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall has said Norway can afford an oil fund only because it has high taxes, something dismissed by Norwegian Government officials.
  • Earlier this year former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was criticised after falsely claiming that cross-border organ transplants and blood transfusions would be hit in an independent Scotland.

As the referendum race hots up and with the gap between both campaigns narrowing, each side will be keen to ensure it retains trust amongst a majority of voters.  However, with false claims now mounting and some even being picked up by the pro-Union media, No campaign strategists will be concerned that the lead they have enjoyed since campaigning began, may erode further.