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.
🌍 In the 2016 EU referendum, Scotland sent an overwhelming message: we remain a proudly European country.
🛑 Despite that vote, Westminster dragged Scotland out of the EU.
📣 Westminster isn’t working. Join us at https://t.co/bkLETL68v1 pic.twitter.com/tgvG9fed7i
— Yes (@YesScot) September 18, 2021
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.
🔮 The head of the ‘No’ campaign said the “clown” Boris Johnson would never become Prime Minister.
🤡 Scotland never voted for Boris Johnson, but today the Prime Minister’s circus is coming to town again.
🏴 We can do better. https://t.co/bkLETLnJTB pic.twitter.com/vfwoOoGEy9
— Yes (@YesScot) August 4, 2021
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.
He was replaced by Liz Truss, who is now imposing the most right-wing agenda in decades, and sending the UK economy crashing.
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.
📣 In 2014, Scotland was told to vote No to protect the NHS.
🚨 In 2021, the Tories voted against protecting the NHS from being sold off in future trade deals.
🏥 Westminster isn’t working. Let’s protect our NHS with independence. https://t.co/bkLETL68v1 pic.twitter.com/sh1Lc00XCf
— Yes (@YesScot) September 18, 2021
4. “The UK provides strength, stability and international clout”
Just weeks into Liz Truss’ tenure as Prime Minister, the pound fell down to the lowest level ever recorded.
And 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”?
“They call him Britain Trump.”@realDonaldTrump reacts to @BorisJohnson being announced as the #NextPrimeMinister and Tory leader.
Latest on this story here: https://t.co/SWTxZhTyQm pic.twitter.com/XNkLuWRCEI
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 23, 2019
5. “We don’t need independence because one day Labour will save us”
Fact is, Labour haven’t won a UK election in over 17 years and Boris Johnson is already planning his second term in office.
Perhaps it’s no wonder why a large chunk of Labour voters, and an increasing number of trade union leaders, back Scotland’s right to choose independence – a right shamefully denied by Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar.
✊🏼 Sharon Graham, the new General Secretary of @unitetheunion, backs Scotland’s right to choose.
📣 “For me, self-determination of Scotland is absolutely critical and I support it.”
🏴 Let’s put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, not Boris Johnson’s. https://t.co/bkLETLnJTB pic.twitter.com/vg3GsveOKe
— Yes (@YesScot) August 26, 2021
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.
Alister Jack said Holyrood’s children’s rights bill may be ‘contrary to the devolution settlement’https://t.co/X29dThG8mg
— The National (@ScotNational) March 24, 2021
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.
💷The UK has the lowest pension of any country in northwest Europe.
🔎 Fresh analysis reveals that pensions in countries with a similar or smaller population to Scotland are over double that of the UK.
🏴Westminster is holding Scotland back. pic.twitter.com/XVRpZ4XiwJ
— Yes (@YesScot) July 4, 2021
8. “Scotland will get federalism if we reject independence”
Eight years after voting No, and many ‘Gordon Brown interventions’ later, federalism is still just a nebulous, distant promise – and let’s be honest, it’s just not happening.
Labour were supposed to launch their latest, watered-down plan for more powers for Scotland at their 2022 conference – but it has been put off because of shadow cabinet resistance to what was proposed.
All while Liz Truss, who said she will “ignore” Scotland’s First Minister, is ramping up her muscular unionism and categorically denying Scotland’s democracy.
Boris Johnson’s government has spent more than £163,000 on Union flags in two years as part of its drive to boost pride in the national symbol. https://t.co/NARnAGNyAS
— The Herald (@heraldscotland) August 7, 2021
9. “Together we can make the UK fairer”
Evidence 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 UK has the highest poverty rate in North West Europe.
🔎 The UN said a decade of austerity resulted in “tragic social consequences” – with over 600,000 children pushed into poverty under Tory rule.
🏴 Let’s take a different path with independence. https://t.co/bkLETLnJTB pic.twitter.com/LxpStbfLgZ
— Yes (@YesScot) July 15, 2021
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 soaring inflation and the continuing costs of Brexit, has pushed even more people into poverty – while their inaction on the cost-of-living crisis means millions are facing the choice between heating and eating.
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’.
UK food supply chain urges action to avoid panic buying to get through winter https://t.co/ZFDC9uvzE9
— The Independent (@Independent) September 23, 2021
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.
⬆️ National Insurance tax hike
⬆️ Rising cost of Brexit
⬇️ Universal Credit cut
⚡️ And now, people are facing rising energy bills under the Tories – over £500 higher than in 2015.
👇🏼 Tory promises on energy prices turned out to be a lie. Here’s a thread. pic.twitter.com/2P2VTBr21X
— Yes (@YesScot) September 22, 2021
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.
🔎 Another Better Together scare story bites the dust.
📱 In 2013, the UK Government said Scottish independence could mean costly roaming charges for Scots.
🤦♀️ In 2021, the UK Government’s Brexit means we DO face costly roaming charges in the EU – as part of the UK. pic.twitter.com/vcW8VMgJxG
— Yes (@YesScot) August 16, 2021
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”
The Tory Veto: Scotland Bill falls short in every way http://t.co/YRe9FP4U1C pic.twitter.com/shtoFG02Y3
— The National (@ScotNational) May 29, 2015
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.
👎 However, Westminster’s energy policies are designed to make Scotland’s renewables industry less competitive.
The UK policies disadvantage Scottish power providers by charging them astronomical prices for distributing the electricity they produce. 👇 pic.twitter.com/5wwr8CL0q4
— Yes (@YesScot) August 5, 2021
15. ‘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.
SNP MPs blocked from ‘English-only’ NHS vote https://t.co/owIKX1bUFc pic.twitter.com/Wt4PbWZfNz
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) February 4, 2020
16. ‘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 2014, the Tory and Lib Dem coalition government said that if Scotland voted against independence, we’d get our share of £1 billion investment in carbon capture and storage – but after the referendum was done, they’ve scrapped the promised investment for Peterhead.
Now, the Tories have betrayed the North East again, by refusing to back a carbon capture and storage facility in Aberdeenshire and diverting the funding to England.
📣 In 2014, the UK Energy Secretary “confirmed” the North East of Scotland as the location of a world-first carbon capture facility – unless there was a Yes vote in #indyref.
🤦♀️ Today, the UK Government decided not to fund a carbon capture facility in the North East. pic.twitter.com/04qib1GMOr
— Yes (@YesScot) October 19, 2021
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.
🗣️ In 2014, Scotland was told it’d be an ‘equal partner’ within the union.
🤷🏼 Well, that hasn’t quite worked out.
🔟 Here’s our Top Ten Better Together Claims, debunked.
👇🏼 We suspect Westminster politicians would rather not be reminded – but make sure everyone sees this. pic.twitter.com/LYGMbFtyj0
— Yes (@YesScot) September 23, 2021