Anti-independence myths: debunked

Since the 2014 independence referendum, scores of claims, vows and scare stories of the ‘No’ campaign turned out completely false.

To debunk all the main anti-independence myths and Better Together promises, we’ve compiled this handy rolling update.

1. “You can only guarantee Scotland’s EU membership by staying in the UK”

Well… where to start?

In 2016, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU, by 62% to 38%. Every single one of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas voted to reject Brexit.

Despite that, Westminster dragged Scotland out of the EU in the middle of a pandemic.

From food shortages to gas price hikes, a fishing sell-out to the export crisis, Scotland is now forced to pay the price of the Tories’ damaging hard Brexit.

2. “Boris Johnson will never be Prime Minister”

Better Together campaign director, Blair McDougall, infamously told Scotland that “clown” Boris Johnson would never become Prime Minister.

We all know how that one turned out.

In just two years, Boris Johnson has imposed a hard Brexit, more nuclear weapons, a grab on Scotland’s powers and now a devastating cut to Universal Credit.

And recently, Boris Johnson said he’s eyeing another decade in power.

3. “The UK protects our NHS”

After imposing a hard Brexit on Scotland, Boris Johnson and any future Westminster government are now free to put the NHS on the table in post-Brexit trade deals.

The Tories have voted down the SNP’s NHS Protection Bill, and in January 2021, the Tories voted to scrap legal protections for the NHS in future trade deals – putting it under real threat of being sold off to the highest bidder.

4. “The UK provides strength, stability and international clout”

After Boris Johnson unlawfully shut down Parliament, repeatedly broke international law and became an international laughing stock, perhaps that’s not the strongest argument for the Union.

Did anyone say “Britain Trump”?

5. “We don’t need independence because one day Labour will save us”

In more than 150 recent polls, Labour managed to lead, and narrowly, just once.

Fact is, Labour haven’t won a UK election in over 16 years and Boris Johnson is already planning his second term in office.

Perhaps it’s no wonder why a majority of Labour voters, and an increasing number of key trade unions, back Scotland’s right to choose independence – a right shamefully denied by Labour’s leadership.

6. “Scotland can have more influence within the UK”

From Brexit to the Westminster power grab, Scotland has been consistently ignored by Westminster.

The UK government has even taken the Scottish Government to court for democratically passing a bill to strengthen children’s rights.

The UK government also spent months trying to shut Nicola Sturgeon out of COP26, despite it taking place in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, independent Ireland currently chairs the UN Security Council and plays a key role in the EU.

7. “Vote No to protect your pension”

Now the UK has the lowest pension out of all neighbouring countries, and at the bottom of the league in the developed world, according to the OECD.

Meanwhile, the UK government continues to fail WASPI women, who are still being unjustly denied the pensions they deserve.

8. “Scotland will get federalism if we reject independence”

Seven years after voting No, and many ‘Gordon Brown interventions’ later, federalism isn’t even on the distant horizon – and let’s be honest, it’s just not happening.

In Keir Starmer’s latest 12,000 word ‘vision’ essay, there isn’t one mention of federalism or more powers for Holyrood.

All while Boris Johnson, who called devolution “a disaster”, is ramping up his muscular unionism and splashing taxpayers’ money on more flags.

9. “Together we can make the UK fairer”

Recent data shows that the UK has the worst poverty and inequality rates out of all countries in north-west Europe – and it’s only getting worse.

The UN special rapporteur on poverty slammed the UK government for “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population.”

The Tories’ decision to cut Universal Credit, while families face record energy bills and the continuing costs of Brexit, will push even more people into poverty – dismantling any pretence of fairness within the Union.

10. “There will be higher food prices if Scotland becomes independent”

Now, because of Brexit, food prices are skyrocketing and the UK is experiencing a ‘food supply crisis’.

On top of that, the UK’s toxic anti-migration policies lead to a shortage of lorry drivers and labour shortages in agriculture and food production – plunging stock levels in shops and warehouses to the lowest level since records began.

11. “Staying in the UK means lower energy bills”

The ‘No’ campaign said that sticking with the Union would mean lower energy bills, while the UK government published an official paper predicting bills would fall by around £48 by 2020.

The reality couldn’t be more different – several energy companies already went bust, prices rose by at least £500, and they’re only set to rise higher still.

12. “Independence would mean the return of roaming charges”

Scotland was told that independence would mean higher mobile phone bills, as residents of Scotland would be hit with roaming charges when visiting England.

Now, the UK as a whole is facing costly roaming charges because of the Tories’ hard Brexit.

13. “Vote No for extensive new powers for Holyrood”

In the infamous Vow, the three then Westminster party leaders – David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg – promised “extensive new powers” for the Scottish Parliament.

However, the new powers they actually legislated for were far from “extensive” – they left about 70% of Scottish taxes, and 85% of UK welfare spending in Scotland in the hands of the Westminster government.

Even the cross-party Devolution Committee at Westminster said that the UK government’s Scotland Bill “falls short… in critical areas”

14. “Broad shoulders of the UK are unlocking Scotland’s potential to be a great energy hub”

In many of its absurd claims about the “broad shoulders of the Union”, the UK government argued it is “unlocking the power of Scotland to take its place as one of the world’s great energy hubs”.

However, after the referendum, Scotland lost out on billions of a vital subsidy scheme for new onshore wind farms.

After Brexit, many companies chose not to invest in any further renewables projects in the UK.

Scotland’s renewable industry has world-leading potential, but it’s being held back by decades of Westminster mismanagement – not least the unfairly high transmission charges that penalise Scottish renewable energy producers.

15. “The Union supports carbon capture opportunities for Scotland”

During the referendum, the UK government said that Scotland benefits from “programmes to support the commercialisation of carbon capture and storage”.

In 2015, the Tories also committed to a £1 billion investment in carbon capture and storage – but soon after, the UK government cancelled vital investment in carbon capture that was set to benefit Peterhead.

16. “Lead, not leave the UK”

Gordon Brown and the then Labour leader Johann Lamont kept repeating that by voting No, Scotland can gain more influence and “lead” the UK.

However, David Cameron didn’t seem to get the memo.

The morning after the referendum, Cameron stood on the steps of Downing Street to announce EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) – turning Scottish MPs into second-class citizens and effectively meaning no MP from a Scottish constituency can ever be Prime Minister.

As more Better Together lies turn to dust, we will keep this rolling list updated. Share it with friends and save it to your bookmarks so you’re kept up to date.

We’ve also produced this video of ‘No’ campaign’s ‘top 10’ claims that really haven’t aged well. Watch it below.