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Tories furious over official government tweet promoting independence

THE Scottish Tories have reported a tweet to the Scottish Government’s top civil servant over claims it breaks the rules by promoting independence without evidence.

Craig Hoy, chair of the Scottish Conservatives, reported the tweet and said it made claims which were in breach of the rules surrounding government communications – which bar using official channels for “party political channels”.

In a letter to Scottish Government permanent secretary John-Paul Marks, the Tory MSP said the tweet presented claims about independence, including that the economy would grow faster if Scotland voted Yes, without evidence to back them up.

He said it was “completely unacceptable” and claimed government resources were being used to push “SNP propaganda”.

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The Scottish Government’s rules bar civil servants from acting “in a way that is determined by party political considerations or [from using] official resources for party political purposes”.

The offending tweet, posted from the Scottish Government’s official Twitter account, cites evidence set out in in full in the Scottish Government’s independence papers and also links to the paper released on Monday which makes the economic case for independence and includes 300 footnotes of sources.

The Scottish Tories have reported a tweet from the Scottish Government to its top civil servant claiming it is 'party political' and against the rules <i>(Image: PA)</i>

Hoy drew attention to the fact the two-minute video contains a segment contains a bar chart with a line appearing to show growth, with the caption: “What if Scotland had the powers to make its economy stronger?”

In his letter to Marks, he claimed this was intended to show Scotland’s “economy would grow faster with independence through the use of a bar graph with no axis”.

He added: “No statistical data is provided to support this graphic, which promotes what is clearly a political position, not an impartial statement of fact.”

In a statement, Hoy said: “There is a duty for civil servants to abide by the civil service code when it comes to political impartiality, but this post clearly did not do that. 

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“It is another deeply worrying example of government resources being used to promote SNP propaganda and their relentless push for a divisive independence referendum next year.   

“That is completely unacceptable and is why I have written to the permanent secretary to rule whether this tweet crossed a line regarding honesty and impartiality.    

“The post was littered with misleading and partisan claims with a complete lack of facts to even attempt to back them up.   

“Taxpayers will be seriously questioning the neutrality and reliability of these posts in future, given the Scottish Government were all too happy to peddle the SNP’s economic case for independence.   

“The permanent secretary must intervene here and take action against a post which was a clear breach of the civil service code.”

The Scottish Government was approached for comment.

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