UK government removes Lego figures from Scotland independence campaign

LONDON Sat Jun 7, 2014 9:01am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - The British government has removed images of Lego figures enjoying the possible gains of Scots rejecting a vote for independence, after the Danish toy maker complained about the use of its characters in a online campaign.

The government produced a list of 12 things Scots could buy with the extra 1,400 pounds ($2,300) a year it said they would have if they voted to stay part of the United Kingdom in a Sept. 18 referendum, using figures made from Lego to illustrate the options.

The choices, posted on social media site Buzzfeed and an official government website, ranged from taking a holiday outside Scotland, with a Lego woman sunning herself on a beach, to watching soccer club Aberdeen play all season with a few pies thrown in.

Other suggestions included traveling between Edinburgh and Glasgow 127 times by bus, scoffing 280 hotdogs at the Edinburgh Festival and paying a year's worth of household utility bills.

But not all Scots were amused by the campaign, venting their anger on Twitter, and Scotland's ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) decried it as typical of the attitudes of London-based lawmakers.

"This is the kind of patronizing attitude to Scotland we have come to expect ... presumably the establishment elite think we spend all our time eating fish and chips and pies," SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for unlisted, family-owned Lego said the company had asked the government to remove the images.

"We wouldn't give permission for our stock images to be used ... We maintain our position as being a politically neutral company," said the spokeswoman on Saturday.

The UK Treasury could not immediately be reached for comment but the Lego characters were no longer featured on the government website and had been removed from Buzzfeed and replaced with generic images.

The economy has emerged as a key issue ahead of the referendum, with the UK government hoping to sway voters by saying they would be 1,400 pounds better off saying in the union. Scottish nationalists, however, say independence could benefit each Scot to the tune of 1,000 pounds a year.

Opinion polls show voters remain reluctant for Scotland to end its 307-year union with the United Kingdom, although support for independence has risen this year.

A poll by Populus published in the Financial Times on Saturday found 47 percent of about 500 respondents questioned in Scotland between May 28 and June 6 wanted to stay in the United Kingdom, while 40 percent wanted independence. The poll found 13 percent remained undecided.

* For the list of what Britain's government suggests Scots could do with 1,400 pounds, see: here

($1 = 0.5969 British Pounds)

(Editing by David Holmes)

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