By a Newsnet reporter
An image published by the anti-independence campaign Better Together as ‘proof’ that campaign group Labour for Independence (LFI) is an SNP front has been doctored, it has emerged.
The image, which shows several people holding Yes placards whilst standing beneath an LFI ‘Yes’ banner, appears on the Better Together site beneath a headline which says ‘They will say anything and do anything’.
A short article beneath the image states:
“For months Alex Salmond’s independence campaign has claimed that Labour for Independence is a group of pro-separation Labour party members. Today it was exposed that it is nothing more than a front organisation for SNP activists.
“As part of an extraordinary attempt to deceive Scots voters, the photos published on twitter today show SNP politicians and members posing as Labour party members. The photos include the SNP leader of a local council and the SNP Deputy Leader of another council posing as Labour activists.”
The smear spawned several similar reports from Unionist leaning journalists in the Scottish media, each attacking LFI and its leader Allan Grogan, insisting the SNP were behind the group.
However it has emerged that the image on the Better Together website originally contained the names of each of the people standing beside the banner which made it clear some Yes Scotland campaigners, completely separate from LFI, were posing in the picture.
In the Better Together image the reference to Yes Scotland had been removed along with the names of the people in the picture.
It has also emerged that the event at which the picture was taken was actually a Yes Scotland event at which ‘Labour for Independence’ was in attendance along with representatives of several political parties and other non-political figures.
Another online website, Wings over Scotland, has revealed that on the day the image was taken, far from attempting to deceive – the Yes Scotland activist who took the picture published it on his twitter account.
The individual, Graham Barton, also tweeted other images from the same event clearly showing the Yes Scotland stall.
The row has now included claims that the BBC itself has become part of a smear campaign aimed at undermining the Labour campaign group which held its first policy conference at the STUC building in Glasgow at the weekend.
A BBC Scotland online article written by reporter Glenn Campbell contained another image which Better Together had altered to include the phrase ‘SNP Cllr’ beside three men who were pictured holding an LFI banner which proclaimed – ‘Yes is the future!’
The image was also shown on Newsnight Scotland with the SNP councillors highlighted by presenter Gordon Brewer. However appearing on the programme, LFI founder Allan Grogan revealed the image had never been used by his organisation in order to promote its pro-independence campaign.
Speaking to Newsnet Scotland, a Yes Scotland activist said: “We are happy to be seen alongside Labour for Independence, not because they are members of the Labour party but because they are on the side of the Yes campaign, just as we are happy to be seen beside the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party.
“It is ludicrous to claim that Yes Scotland campaigners, who happen to be members of the SNP, are ‘masquerading’ as LFI members just because they are seen holding LFI banners proclaiming ‘Yes’ to independence.
“Many people congregate around and hold both Yes and No banners because they support the respective constitutional stance and not to pass themselves off as members of the organisation who made the banner.
“Are Unionists now saying that campaign groups cannot support one another and be photographed doing so?”
Both Yes Scotland and Better Together have other groups campaigning alongside the main campaign groups. National Collective are a well known artists for independence group and LGBT Together is a gay-pride Better Together campaign group.
The Yes Scotland activist added: “Alistair Darling recently headed a launch of Rural Better Together, but nobody is seriously suggesting he is trying to pass himself off as a farmer and surely the LGBT Together people would be more than happy for non gay people to stand beside them and any ‘No to independence’ banners they may have.”
Labour for Independence was created by Allan Grogan, a Labour party member, who was frustrated at the lack of acknowledgement from party bosses at what Mr Grogan says is significant support for independence amongst many Labour party voters.
The group attracted around 100 people at its inaugural policy conference held at the weekend in Glasgow. The growing popularity of Labour for Independence comes in the wake of polling which shows the Labour party in Scotland has fallen further behind the SNP since losing the 2011 Holyrood elections.