By Martin Kelly
The No campaign has been left red-faced after one of its claims against Scottish independence was used as an April Fool joke.
Today's Guardian newspaper featured a spoof article which claimed motorists in Scotland would be forced to drive on the right hand side of the road in the event of independence.
However the SNP has today pointed out that the clearly ridiculous scenario dreamt up in order to provide readers of the paper with a laugh on April Fool's Day, is actually identical to a genuine claim made by opponents of independence.
In an interview with Holyrood Magazine in September 2013, Labour's Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, warned that just such a situation could follow a Yes vote.
He told the magazine: "I would feel really genuinely sad if Scotland votes for independence, not just for our own self-interest and in the extra difficulty we would face getting a Labour government in England but I also don't want to drive up the M6 and get my passport out or have to drive on the right when I want to drive on the left…"
Commenting, SNP MSP Mark McDonald said:
"Politics has always been fertile ground for comedy as the range of April Fools' stories inspired by the referendum today clearly shows.
"But what is really embarrassing for the No campaign is that they have actually claimed that people in Scotland would need to drive on the right – an idea so ridiculous the Guardian have used it as their April Fools' joke today."
The original claim by Burnham led to newspaper reports which highlighted the Labour MP's comments. However the claim was ridiculed by First Minister Alex Salmond in the SNP conference that followed just one month later. Quoting Mr Burnham, the SNP leader labelled the No campaign as 'Project Farce'.
Mr McDonald added: "It just goes to show how absurd the wild claims from the No campaign's Project Fear really are, when they are indistinguishable from April Fools' jokes.
"While every day is April Fools' day for the No campaign, people in Scotland have now seen through their daft claims, as we have seen most recently on the pound."