Legogate: A sorry tale of Scottish independence

Last week the official UK government YouDecide2014 account published an article entitled ‘12 things that £1400 UK Dividend could buy’ on the self-publishing Buzzfeed Community website. The article was also published, by the Scotland Office and HM Treasury, on its own .gov.uk website. At the time I questioned if it was right that the UK government should be using official government resources for blatantly political campaigning. The general consensus amongst most people I know was that it was a blatant misuse of government resources.

I did however think it was quite a good campaign and certainly better than most things I’ve seen the official no campaign do. The Buzzfeed style list included such things as:

4. Scoff 280 hotdogs at the Edinburgh Festival.

7. Watch Aberdeen play all season with two mates – with a few pies and Bovrils thrown in for good measure.

9. 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.

My main criticism is that you could be forgiven to thinking this was a London-centric view on Scotland’s perceived junk food diet. At least they didn’t include deep-fried Mars bars! Each point was illustrated with an ‘action shot’ of a Lego character:

7 Watch Aberdeen play all season with two mates - with a few pies and Bovrils thrown in for good measure.

However, things have now gone from bad to worse as the pictures have all disappeared off the government site. According to the BBC this is because “toy maker Lego has forced the UK government to stop using its characters.” Annoyingly Way Back Machine (the internet archive) hasn’t archived the original page.

I’m even more shocked by this than the original article. What right has a private company to dictate to a democratic government how its products are used? I’m not aware when I buy Lego that I’m agreeing to some sort of licensing agreement that prevents me from building what I want and publishing pictures of my models. Who the heck does Lego think it is and what the heck is UK government doing bowing to its demands?

For the record, I’m pro-union and if I had a vote would vote no. Unfortunately, this fiasco is just the latest mishap by the no campaign which appears to be doing its best to lose the referendum by running a spectacularly negative and incompetent campaign. The only thing that might save the union is the inherent common sense of the people of Scotland, because the No campaign certainly won’t.

UPDATED: Now found the YouDecide2014 Buzzfeed account so linked to the original article.

About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
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