Pro-Union group proposes 'Truth Commission' for Indyref2

An SNP MP has hit out at a prominent pro-Union campaign group after it proposed a 'truth commission' should be set up to test the accuracy of claims made during a second independence referendum.

Tommy Sheppard slammed the proposals. Picture: PA
Tommy Sheppard slammed the proposals. Picture: PA

Scotland in Union, an anti-independence campaign group run by former Labour MP Pamela Nash, wrote in a submission to a Scottish Parliament committee a proposal that a Truth Commission would act as a fact-checker during any second poll on independence.

However, pro-independence figures have reacted with anger at what they claimed were similarities between the proposed fact-checking body and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to heal racial divisions and establish historical civil rights abuses in post-apartheid South Africa. SiU insist there are no similarities.

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Tommy Sheppard slammed the proposals. Picture: PA

The submission by Scotland in Union was reported by the National as saying: “In 2014, in key areas such as the currency, the future of the NHS, North Sea oil projections and basic economics, the public were let down by some politicians and campaign groups who indulged in ‘post-truth politics.’ Many of these are still disputed.

“One solution might be for both campaigns to agree to an independent and qualified ‘Truth Commission’ to act as an unimpeachable factchecker to review and arbitrate on areas of dispute. This independent panel of experts could be agreed by both sides to adjudicate on behalf of the Scottish people.”

Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard slammed the use of the term in Scottish politics.

He told the paper: "To try and pretend the civic debate in Scotland about how we should be governed is akin to racist apartheid South Africa is shocking really.

“The point about independence is that people have got political control over their own affairs and over what happens.

“Pretty much every major promise the Pro-Union side made in 2014 has been betrayed, staying in the European Union being the main one."

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, under the auspices of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was praised as a success in helping to partially mend race relations in South Africa during the transition to democracy. A similar body has previously been suggested for Northern Ireland to continue a healing process from the Troubles.

A spokesperson for Scotland in Union said:

“Scotland in Union has proposed a fair and sensible idea designed to assist all voters and all campaigns in an era of disinformation.

“For Tommy Sheppard to equate the suggestion that voters deserve the truth in any future referendum with the evils of apartheid is utterly abhorrent.

“We call on Mr Sheppard to issue an unreserved public apology for the hurt he has caused.”