The independence debate... in Lego

Lego Lego has made an unexpected entry into the referendum debate

Lego, it is fair to say, has changed somewhat since my youth. Not an unexpected phenomenon, you might reasonably add, since said youth was mis-spent some time back in the Middle Ages.

But I liked Lego. There I would squat in my little bedroom in Dundee, contentedly constructing a house or, if in a particularly adventurous mood, refashioning my Lego town. This was freestyle Lego: imagination only constrained by a dearth of particular blocks.

Now the Danish toy has entered the referendum campaign. Or, more precisely, been deployed by the Treasury in ironic musings.

You think I jest? Not so. The UK government has built upon its contention that Scots are £1,400 better off in the Union - and done so in hard plastic.

On a website, Her Majesty's Treasury speculates how the claimed cash could be spent - and illustrates the options with Lego figures. No, really.

Apparently, we could hop on the bus between Edinburgh and Glasgow 127 times. This is accompanied by an image of a Lego chap at a bus stop; his hair a reddish tinge which bears a remarkable resemblance to the hue of the Chief Secretary's locks.

Or we could scoff 280 hotdogs at the Edinburgh Festival. Or watch Aberdeen play all season with two mates - with a few pies and Bovrils thrown in for good measure. (Personally, I would pass on that one. The Dons, that is, not the pies.) Or… och, look it up for yourself.

'Silly nonsense'

Anyway, the SNP is less than impressed. Stewart Hosie MP says it is "the kind of patronising attitude to Scotland we have come to expect from the Tory Treasury."

Mr Hosie adds that the UK Government's figures - on the start-up costs of independence - have already been discredited. The Lego list, he says, adds "insult to injury" and is "silly nonsense".

Roughly the view taken by Labour's Johann Lamont at this week's FMQs with regard to the first minister's own calculations. She said he made promises - for example, on childcare - without precise costings. Ruth Davidson of the Tories made comparable complaints.

Alex Salmond demurred sharply, advising both that Scotland was capable of running her own affairs and doing so rather successfully.

Brian Taylor Article written by Brian Taylor Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

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