By Martin Kelly

Claims that supermarkets are planning to increase food prices if Scotland votes Yes in the independence referendum have been dismissed by one of the big four supermarket giants.

Morrisons has described media reports that they are preparing to hike prices in their Scottish Supermarkets as "wrong" and have revealed that the price may in fact fall if Scots vote Yes in 2014.

Asked by Newsnet Scotland if the reports of a price hike, which were circulating in the media yesterday, were accurate and the company was making plans to increase prices in an independent Scotland, a spokesman said:

"On the issue of Scottish independence, we believe is for the people of Scotland to decide. It would be wrong to say Morrisons is predicting higher food prices at this stage if Scotland voted for independence."

A row has broken out after the Financial Times reported that supermarket chains, including Morrisons, had drawn up plans to raise prices in the event of a Yes vote.

According to the newspaper: "Scottish consumers will pay more for food if they vote for independence in next year’s referendum because Britain’s big supermarket chains plan to raise their prices north of the border,"

The article reported Dalton Philips, chief executive of Wm Morrison as saying: "If the regulatory environment was to increase the burden of the cost structure on business, that would potentially have to be passed through to consumer pricing, because why should the English and Welsh consumer subsidise this increased cost of doing business in Scotland?"

However in a clarification statement issued to Newsnet Scotland, a spokesman for the company admitted that prices could in fact fall if Scotland were to become independent.

"Our view is that if an independent Scotland increased or decreased regulation or taxes we'd have to take a second look at our pricing. Clearly that could work for or against Scottish customers depending on the direction of travel." Julian Bailey added.

The Financial Times article featured across the Scottish media including the BBC with the broadcaster publishing an online article headlined 'Food price rise alert for Scotland'.

According to the BBC, "Some of the UK's biggest supermarkets may consider increasing their prices north of the border, should Scotland vote for independence next year."

The apparent threats of a price hike were welcomed by Unionist politicians.  Margaret Curran, Labour's shadow Scottish secretary, said: "I've heard time and again from businesses about the benefits they get from being part of the UK and how these benefits are passed on to their customers.  These comments show again why we're better together."

However the story was soon being challenged with Tesco denying they had spoken to the Financial Times and Asda joining Morrisons in saying they had no plans to increase prices.

Commenting yesterday, Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

"This story has quickly disintegrated – Tesco made it clear to the BBC this morning that they have made no such comments regarding independence, while Asda and Morrisons have both said that they have no plans to increase prices.

"The No campaign’s claims have completely backfired, as Asda have also made clear that their comments also apply to the powers devolved to Scotland in the 2012 Scotland Act – something brought in by the Westminster parties in advance of independence!

"The reality is that independence will provide the means to create a prosperous economy and better business environment, one that will deliver benefits for consumers and retailers alike – and supermarkets can look forward to a thriving future in Scotland under all constitutional circumstances.

"Supermarkets operate in competition with each other, and you can be sure if one supermarket chain has higher prices – for whatever reason – then their competitors will not be slow to take advantage of that."

The Financial Times story yesterday featured on BBC Radio Scotland's morning programme Good Morning Scotland with presenters reading our hedlines from a number of newspapers including the ultra pro-Union Daily Mail.

The issue also featured on BBC's The One Show with a presenter claiming that Supermarket food prices will go up in an independent Scotland.

The comments from Morrison's indicating that the claims are wrong and that prices may in fact fall with independence, are not expected to be reported by the BBC.


# Diabloandco 2013-12-10 07:41
And as for the Daily Telegraphs baloney writer - just more ordure than I can stomach!

I have always thought that prices in our supermarkets were dearer from place to place .I always thought that Scotland was held to ransom.
I suspect that those supermarkets
" proud to serve Scotland" will continue to be proud to serve Scotland be they owned by Wallmart or anyone else.
# thejourneyman 2013-12-10 08:01
Wow! Don't know who the guy on the One Show was but this is a great example of how such information gets implanted in the minds of the less well informed. Never thought I'd see the day that propaganda was so rife in our so called democracy. The only course of action for YES voters is to boycott these stores now. If they are willing to be used as political pawns then so be it. Until these stores come out in MSM and refute these claims many people will have bought the lie but YES campaigners can put the onus back onto Morrisons and Tesco by boycotting. The gloves are off.
# Dougie Douglas 2013-12-10 08:51
Yes, can you imagine the rapid clarifications if these supermarkets had an overnight drop in footfall of 40%.

It would be instant and completely unambiguous.
# ianbeag 2013-12-10 09:47
A swift and comprehensive riposte from Business Scotland
Don't expect full media coverage from the BBC and D. Mail?
# hetty 2013-12-10 10:48
On visiting Northern England in the summer for a holiday, I generally found it was less expensive for food and drink. Some of the family live out in Australia and prices are high, but then so are the wages and standard of living much higher, even with the same job specs, they actually have a life.
# RTP 2013-12-10 10:53
Tony Livesey,the man in the video maybe Newsnet should ask him to show them the proof of what these chief executives have said I'm sure he must have taped them or is it all just hearsay from him just another scare from BBC.Matt Baker seemed to lead Livesey into this story,I always thought Baker a good sport but it seems he can even be turned into biased speak by BBC.
# FREEDOM1 2013-12-10 11:58
Baker has to say what the BBC tell him to say. The BBC are his paymasters. He has no choice if he wants to keep his job.
# gus1940 2013-12-10 12:03
Is Livesey not the guy who used to be editor of The Daily or Sunday Sport?

If so why should any credence be attached to anything he says.

In the meantime I'll stick to doing my main shop in Aldi & Lidl and sit back and enjoy the huge savings I have made for more than 10 years by shopping there.
# HistoryPHD 2013-12-10 10:54
Of course, as soon as the scare story collapses the media pull back from it and move onto something else, content that they have done their part. And to be honest as far as the written press goes that is fine, but not for the BBC. They have a duty as the state broadcaster to be impartial. Why couldn't they have fired off a telephone call or an email to all the big chains to clarify/check their position? It should have been clear to anyone that there was no way these big companies were going to risk alienating huge proportions of their consumer base by getting involved in politicking.

Now we have this story reduced to what it is. If the regulatory framework changes prices might go up or down accordingly. Jeepers, hold the front page! Scoop of the decade. Seriously, at times I find it hard not to be dismayed by the total lack of intelligence shown by our media. But then that isn't true is it, it is just flagrant political bias!
# Jo Bloggs 2013-12-10 12:07
They (the media) do the same with footballers or pop stars. If they don't get the inflammatory comment they're looking for, they just twist an innocuous response out of all recognition to get the headline they want. Scum the lot of them.
# Dundonian West 2013-12-10 10:55
I expect this to be top o Reporting Scotland tonight----if there's anyone left who bothers watching it.
It's news ain't it ?
# call me dave 2013-12-10 12:06
The SG team answer questions live today in Edinburgh.

Here now or watch it later.
# Bubs 2013-12-10 12:14
So if the regulatory costs incurred by a company varies by country then the price of their goods/services may vary too. Stating the bleeding obvious there. It's stories like this nonsense that show the complete bias in the MSM.

O/T The new racism figures for Scotland have been announced with a 14% fall in the number of recorded incidents. All racism is abhorrent and this news should be universally welcomed.
If you cast your mind back to this time last year the figures then showed a 10% increase in the number of incidents reported. This was rightly regarded as unwelcome news by all including the BBCs Kaye Adams. Despite the numbers giving no detailed breakdown at all Miss Adams attributed the rise then to anti-English sentiment which she claimed was being stoked up by the independence debate. She then dedicated a whole show to the subject.
How will this years figures be interpreted by Miss Adams? And how will she attempt to lead her listeners this time?

[Admin - Kaye Adams implied that a rise in attacks against 'White British' was in fact a rise in anti-Englishness. Anti-English sentiment actually dropped last year.]
# Bubs 2013-12-11 08:56
Thanks for the clarification Admin.

Here's a link to the original NewsnetScotland article on the story at the time:
# colyou6 2013-12-10 15:09
No surprise here to use food as a leverage.
Scraping the bottom of the barrel,desperat e.
# Breeks 2013-12-10 16:40
I watched that hour long Money Weekly program again, and how can I put it, I got a baad feeling about their baad feeling.

What troubles me is the Tories, the right wing rUK, and their 'feebleness' in defence of the Union. It's just out of character.

We have the austerity measures. I 'get' their vilification of the poor, but can they really be so callous in giving tax breaks to the rich?

Leave Europe and lose Asian & US investment? Why?

OK here's the scarey bit. What if you buy into the Money Weekly story; catastrophe is inevitable. What if the Right is already playing for the day after? Cash rich oligarchs buying up collapsed UK companies for pennies in the pound and rising like phoenix with new production levels unfettered by the welfare state, pensions & EU human rights which broke the UK? And oh how convenient, a Scottish referendum to blame for the destabilization and collapse of Sterling.

Now isn't that more like a Tory?..
# Breeks 2013-12-10 16:59
Timed to perfection, the collapse of the pound might even see Scotland's share of the Union bought out for peanuts, but it's probably not that critical because the referendum itself can be blamed for that which is already coming to pass regardless.

How would you prepare for the apocalypse if you were a right wing Tory? Wouldn't you warn and assist your honourable captains of industry to get their buying wealth assembled at large, offshore and for God's sake out of Sterling 'just in case'?

Why not alienate foreign investors? Who wants competition in a free for all?

If I was a gambling man, and possessed of Tory instincts, I might fancy a wager that if there is a collapse in Sterling, it will happen after the 2014 referendum, but before settling the split in 2016.

Ladies and gentlemen, buy your loved ones gold this Christmas, in bullion bars if you can afford them.
# andygm 2013-12-10 18:01
They retracted the story on their Facebook page but said nothing about it on air.

[Admin - Can you clarify who retracted the story from their Facebook page?]
# call me dave 2013-12-10 22:41
Hi maybe reference to this from gordoz:
From WoS earlier:

gordoz says:
10 December, 2013 at 7:15 pm
O/T The One show has had to modify the statements made re shopping Yesterday -
Just heard a statement to set things straight on costs of supermarket food shopping in Scotland – The one show has clarified that last nights statement was not in fact true and only one sides opinion in the ref debate. Read out statement from SG and made it clear it was not a certainty cost would go up but could actually go down.

Another post here:
cath says:
10 December, 2013 at 10:32 pm
Interesting about the one show. On the Morrisons FB page people were saying their own clarification wasn’t enough and they wanted as public a retraction from the BBC as the original or they would boycott. Makes you wonder if the supermarkets put pressure on?

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