Controversy over anti-independence campaign official anthem

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By Bob Duncan

The anti-independence ‘Better Together’ campaign is facing claims that it has ‘lifted’ its official launch tune from a track originally composed by Scottish rock band Big Country.

The launch of the NO campaign on Monday featured a background track which was remarkably similar to “One Great Thing” which was a hit for the late Stuart Adamson’s band in the eighties.

The No campaign song, ‘Down Under’, was created by Scottish DJ/producer Munroso and used for the official launch of ‘Better Together’.

The row has wider significance due to the use of ‘One Great Thing’ as the official anthem for the pro-independence campaign, Yes Scotland.  Many journalists present at the No Campaign launch on Monday were startled to hear what sounded like the Yes Scotland anthem being played as Alistair Darling and other Unionists took to the stage.

A spokesman for the Yes campaign, which was launched last month, explained that their song was a re-write of the original hit single, and confirmed that they had obtained copyright permission to use a new version, saying:

“One Great Thing is a composition by Stuart Adamson and Tony Butler and is published by EMI Music.  EMI Music has licensed the Yes Campaign to use this composition for the duration of the campaign.” he said.

According to the Yes Scotland web site: “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.”

SNP MP and constitutional spokesman Pete Wishart was a member of Big Country, before going on to find fame in Celtic folk rock group Runrig in 1986.  He played keyboards with the Skye-based band until he became an MP in 2001.

The Better Together campaign, which was launched on Monday to make the case for voting NO in the independence referendum, said the composition used in its launch film “was categorically not the same tune” as One Great Thing.

A campaign spokesman said the piece of music was a new track called Down Under, by Scottish DJ/Producer Munroso, which “neither samples, nor uses, nor is inspired by Big Country”.

The ‘copy’ row follows revelations, originally reported by Newsnet Scotland, that the anti-independence slogan ‘Better Together’ was actually already in use, having been adopted by the Scottish NHS over four years ago.

On the NHS Scotland website the slogan sits proudly at the top of the page, beneath which it says:

“Better Together is Scotland’s Patient Experience Programme.   It supports NHS Boards, frontline staff and patients in driving forward service improvement.”

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

The launch of the anti-independence campaign featured no Union flags, no politicians from outwith Scotland and a reluctance to use the words ‘No’ and ‘Union’.

Some observers have suggested that ‘Better Together’ may in fact be an attempt by Unionists to blur the lines of distinction between themselves and the Yes campaign, and thus sow seeds of confusion in the minds of the Scottish electorate.

Many BBC broadcasts have also erroneously presented ‘Better Together’ as a campaign to save the United Kingdom, and not, more accurately the political Union created over 100 years later.

Big Country or not – Judge for yourself:

The Yes Scotland ‘Big Country’ anthem

The No campaign ‘Munroso’ song