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June 5, 2014 7:08 pm
A new campaign by the British government urging Scots to reject independence by suggesting they could spend extra money on pies, fish suppers and hot dogs has been attacked for being “patronising”.
Officials published a graphic on the government website on Thursday listing all the things Scottish voters could spend what they say will be the £1,400 they save by staying in the UK.
The list, illustrated with Lego figures, included suggestions such as “Scoff 280 hot dogs at the Edinburgh Festival”, and “Watch Aberdeen play all season with two mates – with a few pies and Bovrils thrown in for good measure”.
Another suggestion was to “share a meal of fish and chips with your family every day for around 10 weeks, with a couple of portions of mushy peas thrown in”.
Stewart Hosie, the Scottish National party’s Treasury spokesman, criticised the campaign, saying: “This is the kind of patronising attitude to Scotland we have come to expect from the Tory Treasury.
“Presumably the establishment elite think we spend all our time eating fish and chips and pies.”
Danny Alexander, Treasury chief secretary, first used the £1,400 figure last week as an estimate of how much better off Scotland would be per person if it rejected independence and stayed in the UK. The figures have since been criticised as being overly hypothetical.
Mr Hosie said: “All we get in return from Westminster is bogus figures and silly nonsense.” The SNP-led Scottish government’s own estimate last week of a £1,600 “independence bonus” was also criticised.
An official from the UK Treasury defended the list, saying it was a light-hearted way to “communicate with people in different ways”.
The page was initially published on Buzzfeed, a news and entertainment website that specialises in compiling lists, and which outside organisations can use to publish their own information.
It is the latest example of British politicians’ chequered use of social media and new technology in general.
Some politicians have been praised for their nimble use of such platforms. The Liberal Democrats, for example, illustrated a speech by their leader Nick Clegg extolling his love for all things British with gently mocking pictures of other party leaders.
But at other times, such moves have backfired. The Conservatives were criticised for tweeting a poster which promoted the chancellor’s tax cuts for both beer and bingo as “helping hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”.
The pro-union campaign had more success on social media later on Thursday when it responded to comments by Barack Obama in favour of the union by tweeting a version of the US president’s 2008 campaign poster replacing the word “Hope” with “Nope”.
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