An Open Letter To J.K. Rowling


Dear J.K. Rowling,

I was saddened to read your blog post about your reasons for supporting the Better Together campaign. I was dismayed to read your fears that a minority of nationalists will consider you ‘insufficiently Scottish’ to have a valid view. Yes, there are extreme views on either side of the debate, but they are in the minority.

It is healthy for any democracy that the great literary figures of a nation feel able to express their views with such clarity. People such as yourself hold influence across our society and your words have brought hope and joy to children and adults not just here but across the world. I hope your expression here allows others, especially more women, to feel able to engage constructively in our debate.

It is not my intention here to rebut your arguments, but rather to offer a response.

I would not call myself a nationalist. I would not call myself an anti-nationalist either: it makes no sense to me to define myself in such negative terms. The nationalism I feel comfortable with is a civic nationalism, a welcoming narrative, a politics of inclusion where all those who choose to live here, on this part of the planet, are welcome. The kind of nationalism that makes you deeply uncomfortable – an ethnic nationalism, a politics of exclusion – makes me deeply uneasy too. Yes, nations are fictions; they are stories created from human imagination. This debate, for me, is not about where you come from, nor the ‘purity of your lineage,’ it’s about the direction we want to take as a society. It’s about the story we choose to believe in.

I appreciate that there are legitimate concerns with independence. Yes, a 21st century Scotland faces the same pressures as all nations across the world. Of course there are huge risks with independence, and we would be foolish not to appreciate the serious nature of these. For me, the opportunities far outweigh the risks. Like many others, I have to believe that we can do better.

I would never pretend to have an answer to your personal fears about medical research. That said, Scottish universities and research are amongst the best on the planet, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t continue to excel after independence, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t continue to work with others internationally. In the 21st century, knowledge doesn’t restrict itself to borders. Unlike you, I have no doubts that cross-border NHS treatment will continue after independence. To quote Dr Khan, “As a doctor, I do not ask if a patient is Scottish, English, Irish or Welsh. Doctors treat patients, not nationalities.”

Neither do I share your confidence about devolution post-No. Yes, devolution has protected us from – or rather, allowed us to mitigate against – what is being done to public services south of the border: a systematic destruction of the NHS, welfare and education. A free health service, a welfare system and free education for all are absolutely vital for the flourishing of society. The only possible means to protect what is vital is to vote Yes.

And Yes, I understand your frustration and suspicion of the Yes campaign’s never-ending smiles and rainbows. But this is politics: the Yes campaign is forced into a situation where it cannot be seen to admit any flaws in its argument. It is the positive polemic to the No campaign’s relentless negativity. But look beyond Alex Salmond’s veneer and beyond the ‘official’ campaign. Here you will find the unofficial grassroots campaign of many colours and voices, free from the trappings of political manoeuvring. Like never before, we are witnessing a flourishing of ideas where reasoned, intelligent thinking beyond each side’s rhetoric and propaganda can be found. We are also witnessing an outpouring of passion, spirit and energy, with new communities forming to put this thought into action.

J.K Rowling, the campaign you see is not the campaign I see. I see a generation of people who are not afraid, who speak articulately, passionately about the possibilities of a better future. I am struck on a daily basis by the goodwill, kindness, open-mindedness, generosity, intelligence, creativity, humility and sheer dedication of all of those giving their everything to this movement. My own involvement has been one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life. Of course, we don’t all agree on our political vision, but we do have one thing in common: we have the desire to work together towards a better future.

To be asked, ‘what kind of country do you want to live in?’ is the most wonderful gift. Many people have taken this opportunity to empower themselves with knowledge. They are actively engaged in the world, not passively accepting of the status quo. They could have chosen to remain, in your own words, ‘comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how things might be improved.’ They could remain switched off. Now we frequently overhear the #indyref discussed passionately at the taxi rank at 3 o’clock in the morning on a Friday night; in the chippy queue; at the hairdressers. It is being discussed by high school leavers: full of hope, full of promise for life and all the joy and wonders and pain it brings.

This referendum question has sparked the imagination of the nation. J.K. Rowling, I do not need to extol to you the virtues and the power of the imagination.

I am reminded of reading a speech you gave in 2008 to a class of Harvard graduates. I had just begun researching for my PhD (on the power of imagination, the power of story) and I found your speech to be honest, inspiring, and true. You said then:

“The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.”

This rings true J.K. Rowling, for me and the countless others who have dedicated themselves to this campaign. I do not believe that independence will be easy or will somehow magically cure society’s problems. What this historical moment provides us with is an unmatched opportunity to participate in the writing of our own future. We have a chance to liberate ourselves from the stranglehold of austere Westminster politics and lead by example. We must ask ourselves, what really matters?

This is campaign is about hope over fear. J.K. Rowling, to quote your own speech: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives”

We need a new story to live by. In your own words: “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

A friend of mine reminded me, just this morning, of this beautiful poem by Maurice Lindsay. Scotland’s a sense of change, an endless becoming. Scotland is an attitude of mind.

Again, your own words: ‘As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.’

We would be delighted to extend an invitation to yourself to attend one of the many Yestival events taking place across Scotland this July. Our ‘Imagine a Better Scotland’ event at Summerhall in Edinburgh between the 9th and 12th of July promises to be a series of inspiring and engaging events for everyone who attends. We’d be thrilled to see you there.

Mairi McFadyen
National Collective

Image from David Officer


About Mairi McFadyen

Mairi McFadyen is a Teaching Research Assistant in Scottish Culture and Heritage at the University of Edinburgh and works freelance as an advocate for the traditional arts. She is also a member of National Collective.

There are 157 comments

  1. disqus_5UOMJ1sEya

    and those misrepresented English/Welsh/n-Irish people who feel the same way as the Scottish? Will they be accepted into the independant Scotland? A lot of yes-campaigns I have read seem to be labouring under the conclusion that “Scots are the only ones who feel like this about Westminster”.. I can categorically state that this is untrue and would just like some elaboration as to why it can’t simply be sorted by Reformation and if this isn’t possible; will Scotland set up refuge for those English/Welsh/n-Irish who feel the same?

    1. Roaming Adhocrat

      I’m English-Australian and horrified at the actions of my governments in Westminster and Canberra. But the Westminster establishment is so strongly entrenched; 30 years of Thatcherite policy! My hope for England and Australia is that an independent Scotland will set an example of a prosperous and fair anglophone society that will demonstrate that free healthcare, for example, can flourish in the 21st century, a slap in the face to my countries’ cabinet ministers who collectively hold the ideology that the only efficient system is an unregulated corporate oligarchy masquerading as a free market. I see no hope for Scotland if it continues within the UK; I see no hope for the UK if it continues reformed; I see no hope for reform without an independent Scotland pioneering the way for reforms in the rest of Britain. Go Scotland!

    2. taranaich

      “A lot of yes-campaigns I have read seem to be labouring under the conclusion that “Scots are the only ones who feel like this about Westminster””

      Scots are the only ones who can do anything about it, sadly. If the English/Welsh/Northern Irish truly reject Westminster, its up to you to do something about it.

      1. Dave Harrison

        thats a bit of a loaded and very innaccurate statement, based i think on youre stereotyping of ‘your neighbours as a homogenous white right wingers, a very innaccurat eprotrayal of a naiton of 60 million people . The demographic is different down there for starters and some of the problems with imigration in England simply do not exist up here. Nevertheless Ive heard some pretty flippant racism in scotland of a small minority of people ( same as down south) , Ukip also just won a euro seat inSocltand which is shocking given that immigration is so low up here. Britain First also has its roots partly in scotland. There ar eright wing elements , you cannot deny that. As for England : London and the North of England particularly actually gave Ukip very little support. Look at the facts Shirley, what your saying is simply not true.

        1. ShirleyNott

          I didn’t say anything about ‘homogenous right-wingers’; I am well aware that the populations, esp in big cities like Manchester and London are much more diverse than Scottish cities.

    3. Rab Simpson

      “Will they be accepted into the independant Scotland?”

      Why wouldn’t they be? We’re not going to elect Farage and his crew of anti-immigrant bigots, so I see free movement between states being a very real thing. It’s not as if there’ll be border patrols (like the BT campaign like to claim).

  2. John

    Unfortunately, doesn’t address any of the concerns JK, myself and thousands of others have. Actual, real concerns – the EU, the border, the currency, etc. Will attending the “yestival” answer any of these questions?

    So, as nice as this was to read, it’s irrelevant – in that there’s nothing here to make either side change their mind. Standard pro indy response. Fluffy words, patriotism and optimism.

    1. David Grant

      Attending the Yestival or any other group events may give you more clarity. I think engaging in the debate is essential – it may not change your mind, but it will provide you with a clearer understanding of the reasons why people are for independence.

      There are no clear “answers,” as many things will need to be negotiated. However, an indy Scotland can use any currency it wants to. Panama uses the US Dollar, for example, but it did not need permission to do so – it’s called “pegging,” that is, permanently linking the value of your currency to that of another country. Scotland could easily peg it’s new currency to the Pound Sterling.

      It is not so much patriotism or nationalism, but a desire to have more control over governance – the original push by the SNP was to include “Devo Max” (further devolved powers for the Scottish Parliament) on the referendum ballot. The coalition government denied that option, making this a very limited “yes or no” vote. I think most Scots would be happy with Devo Max, but it’s off the table. Promises from the British politicians now are empty – if further devolved powers were in the offer, why were they withdrawn from the table during the referendum debates? It is an election year promise – they will never grant those powers in the event of a no vote. It’s dirty pool.

      As far as optimism? Well, that is the defining aspect of the Yes campaign – the idea that Scotland could become a better country on its own, without the gross inequality that sees austerity measures placed on the most vulnerable and large bonuses granted to banks that continue to wreak havoc with our economy; laws made by unelected officials (Lords), who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, as many are landowners and have ties to banks and corporations who benefit from taxation policies. Thatcherism and austerity have had their time and they have not worked for the majority of the population. The wealthy have grown richer but the middle and working class have faltered, the poor have been demonised.

      We can build a better country and the time is now. Since Scotland will not be granted the powers to raise and manage its own taxes through devolution, independence is the only option. It will be a difficult road, but one that many feel optimistic about setting upon.

    2. JC

      Hi John, I appreciate concerns over the EU are important to us all, so I wanted to see if I could shed a little light.

      On the EU, it’s now widely accepted (see A. Darling’s tacit agreement this week) that Scotland will have little issue re-entering the EU. We bring much to the table, and it would be an extreme aberation were this not to happen. Of course, the only true way to get a definitive answer, once and for all, as to the legal status, is for the UK government to formally request it from the European council (or commission, I cannot remember specifically). Scotland cannot do this, as it is not currently a full member state. To date, the UK gov has not, and has no intention of doing this. Until it does, we have to make the best assessment we can from the information available.

      On currency, it’s a somewhat similar play. Whilst there are a range of opinions on both sides, the Scot Gov’s preferred initial option is the currency union. The UK gov has ‘ruled this out’. Again, this specific is down to your judgement as to who has more of a leg to stand on. My personal take is that it would be a severe unlikelihood for the UK government to reject this. And if it did? A Scottish currency would potentially be an even better option for Scotland 🙂 Although I hope for a union initially, to stabilise markets, and ensure the people in rUK aren’t put at an immediate disadvantage by petty politicking from Westminster.

      On border – sorry, not entirely sure what your worry is here! All I can say is, the Scot Gov plans to be a part of the Common Travel Area, the same way that Ireland is. It would be in no-one’s interests to erect any sort of border or checkpoint. Unless rUK really pushed for it, it certainly won’t go up on the Scottish side 🙂

      I guess my take on it is that it makes perfect political sense for the UK gov and BT to try and make things less clear/more uncertain. Fear tends to feed the status quo. An informed and well versed electorate tend to notice the cracks and faults in a present system far more readily. National Collective is a great example of the aspirational, and are fantastic at it. I’d definitely recommend though having a look at Newsnet Scotland or Business for Scotland for the numbers game. Both excellent resources.

      1. Snakey_Pete

        “Scotland is not currently a full member.” There is your answer, which has been endorsed by everyone from Barosso down. As to currency, that question has also been answered- No.

        1. Michael Lally

          I will be voting yes. I find it interesting how the decision to vote yes is very much a one way street. I have yet to speak to someone who has legitimately gone from yes to no or undecided. This tells me that people are simply being enlightened with accurate information and making their mind up accordingly.

    3. Ash

      The EU and the Currency questions can’t be answered because of the actions of the Westminster government.
      Accurate information will hurt the No campaign, which is why they will not provide it.
      Even the Freedom of information act is being misused to withhold relevant information.

        1. Kilty

          It is only the Westminster government that can ask the question of Brussels, which they are not willing to do because they “believe” it would count as negotiating Scotland’s departure from the union.

    4. john gallacher

      Let me address one concern expressed by J K Rowling. Scotland would not have been responsible for bailing out RBS.

    5. Richard Gibbons

      Independent Scotland will have the £ (it’s our £ no one can stop us using it); we will also be in the EU (because we are already EU citizens); border controls are what we will make of them by whatever party we choose to be in power in 2016. This has been repeated so many times over and over again … ask yourself this, do you want Scotland to be in the UK when the Tories and UKIP take the UK out of Europe in 2017? Because we won’t have a say in that decision as the majority of votes are in SE England.

      1. MM

        United Kingdom is in the EU, not Scotland. As for £ – you can use it but you won’t have any influence over the currency (so if you go bancrupt no one is going to bail you)

        1. JC

          I always felt the bankruptcy thing was a bit of a misnomer. It’s important to remember that of the £700-800bn bailout from the UK government, more than half of that came form US banks. During the banking crisis in Belgium earlier, several countries came to bail out international banks. So the UK never bailed out ‘Scottish banks’.

          Their HQs were registered there for sure, mainly down to historic purposes, but their activities, and their regulation were almost entirely outwith Scotland. Banks are bailed out based on their activities, their HQs have little bearing on them. The US bailed out the UK, the UK ‘bailed out’ RBS etc. Chinese governments effectively bailed out the US etc…

          UK is in the EU, Scotland is not as a full member, very true. Again, an inexact area, just need to hope the UK chases up the true answer to the elusive EU question 🙂

          On the currency…we have very little influence right now. Remember, the Bank of England is not a UK institution, it’s fully independent. Right now Scotland has zero representation on the board.

          I’m all for a Scottish currency, but currency union or even ‘dollarisation’ would present a highly acceptable monetary control penalty (even impovement depending on how you view it) in the face of the massively increased fiscal control 🙂

        2. JC

          Oh and very quickly – I feel it’s a little pessimistic to assume an independent Scotland somehow has more chance of going ‘bankrupt’ than the existing UK. The UK is in pretty dirty water as it is, and given Scotland’s relative financial strength to that of the UK, it would take a positively olympian effort of mismanagement to squander it!

          1. Mark

            How much will independence cost? Setting up borders, border control, embassies around the world, establishing armed forces, inheriting part of the UK’s overall debt, losing RBS to London (as it’s owned by the UK)… Scotland is the 14th wealthiest country in the world because it is part of the UK. If it is independent, it won’t be.

          2. JC

            Conservative estimates (by Professor Dunleavy for example) put it around the £200-300m mark. Not insignificant. But from all the savings made contributing to a bloated UK armed services and Westminster system actually more than cover it. That cost covers everything you’ve mentioned above. The Scot Gov plans to spend about £1bn less per year than is currently “attributed to it” by the UK. Major savings from vanity projects such as Trident and HS2 provide the expansive cash base from which to easily transition to independence.

            I don’t know how RBS would be ‘lost’ to London. Given then Corp. tax will initially be a % point or two lower from day 1, I worry more about an influx of business to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

            Most important take-away is Scotland’s “attributed share” of just about everything is way more than any similar sized indy country has or needs. Major savings across the board.

            Hope that helps

          3. Mark

            Do you honestly believe businesses will flock to Scotland just because it has become independent? Also note many businesses have vowed to LEAVE Scotland if it goes independent. How will the economy thrive then?

          4. JC

            No no of course not sorry. I don’t believe Scotland will become a low tax haven or anything like that. But as I see it now, UK policies disproportionately favour London based businesses as it stands. With independence, the Scottish government will have the levers it needs to provide a better environment to counter balance the current pull of London. It seems that if businesses have stayed all this time in spite of the attractiveness of London, it can only really get better for them up here.

            Also – very few have vowed to actually leave, but many have said they’ll consider their position once they know the situation. Same with any business, any time, anywhere. Change can be good or bad, and they’ll make a decision based on that. Businesses can’t afford to be politically aligned. At the end of the day, it’s all about opportunities, and an Independent Scotland will likely present more of those than it does at present.

          5. SFord P Flickr

            The whole UK economy needs restructuring. It is too London centric with no other city to rival it or counterbalance it. This is unlike many other states that have multiple cities as different centres (e.g. America where Washington is a political hub; NY is an economic hub; LA a creative hub etc.) The UK only has London as economic, political, social, cultural hub and that is not good. Scotland under devolution could have been a model as Glasgow could have been the economic hub and Edinburgh a political hub; since 2007 this has not been the case as the Scottish Government are centralising more and more power in Edinburgh and taking it away from local councils and communities. Under independence Edinburgh will be the London of the north with all other cities playing for second.
            Glasgow for its part is still at the moment Scotland largest city with a population of around 600,000; 3 universities in the city centre (one of which is in the global top 100 universities list) and yet the only jobs the city attracts are call centres. What is called the Financial District is different financial services call centres. This should be a national disgrace for both Holyrood and Westminster politicians.
            The other issue that everyone seems to overlook in the debates is what would the constitutional safeguards in an independent Scotland be?
            The SNP don’t want a second chamber, they want a written constitution. The seniors in that party that I have asked have said that they would make the constitution ‘easy to change’ so that it would not date. This defeats the point of writing one as they are supposed to be difficult to change in order to protect the rights they enshrine. It should not be easy to manipulate. I was also told in the course of my conversation that in many cases constitutions are just ignored anyway as a last resort. Without the appropriate safeguards and observances an independent Scotland would be easy pray for a dictator or oligarchy to breed.

          6. JP

            What businesses have “vowed to LEAVE Scotland” in the event of independence? I can’t think of one business which has confirmed this… plenty have concerns over the uncertainty of independence, and have stated that they are making contingency plans, but not one (to my knowledge) has “vowed to LEAVE…”

            To be perfectly honest, they wouldn’t be very clever business people if they weren’t constantly making contingency plans for possible future events, even if there were no referendum on the horizon!

          7. Karl Montague

            As far as I’m concerned, there are two types of business. Those that care about Scotland, and those that don’t.

            The ones that care will stay. The ones that don’t? Well they’re half the problem. I hope the door doesn’t hit them on the way out.

          8. Neil Young

            Mark, business dong give a shiny about borders, they exist to make money. There were quite a few chairmen of companies and also the likes of Michelle Mone who said they would move their business south of the border in the event of (most were at the time of the referendum on devolution and Michelle mones comments were on the possibility of an elected SNP government) None of them moved, its just bluster and bullying tactics.

          9. SFord P Flickr

            It will be a race to the bottom. The businesses and individuals that can afford to move to England will.

          10. Ian

            RBS will be legally obliged to headquarter itself in the country where most of its customers are based. If Scotland goes independent, it will have to be headquartered in rUK as most of its customer base is there by numbers. With Bank of Scotland/Lloyds, Virgin Bank, Tesco bank etc all having a presence in Edinburgh it’s not clear what independence will have on Scotland’s finance industry, but it seems the Scotland Exchequer won’t get any tax take from the banks under EU law.

          11. Rab Simpson

            Finance ‘industry’? We’ve all witnessed and suffered the fruits of that ‘industry’ in recent years. If they want to leave, I’ll hold the door open for them.

          12. Andrew Haddow

            We already (over)pay for all that stuff. And we certainly won’t be setting up any border posts. Why would we?

          13. ShirleyNott

            I don’t know how much it will cost, but I am pretty sure it is not as much as the UK is in debt…

          14. Georgia

            ” Setting up borders, border control”

            I hope you mean “switching the current border control at airports and seaports over to Scotland, rather than just the UK”, as there is no reason that there would be border control between England and Scotland. Scotland would be in a very similar position, if not identical, to the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – one UK region and one EU country sharing a border on the same island. There are no border controls in or out of Ireland… there were in the past, but that was anti-terrorism, not typical border control. Currently you can travel between them by train, car or bus with no ID and by plane with only basic photo ID.

            If a full border goes up between an EU-Scotland and England then it will be because of someone making that decision (one which I doubt Scotland would encourage and I don’t think England should/would encourage either), not because “that’s how it has to be” or anything – we have an example of there being totally free movement on the island of Ireland (with EU/UK standard border controls at airports), there’s no reason why Britain can’t have the same.

          15. Ian

            If the UK is approaching going bust, it can print money. A Scotland using the pound won’t be able to. The risk is bigger. The next financial crisis might ruin an independent Scotland, there’ll be no quantitive easing in Scotland in the same way the UK did & can do.

        3. taranaich

          “United Kingdom is in the EU, not Scotland.”

          The 5.3 million people of Scotland are in the EU: do you really see the EU kicking 5.3 million people out of the EU because of a change in their own government?

          “As for £ – you can use it but you won’t have any influence over the currency”

          So just like *right now*? At least in the event of independence we can choose another currency: now, we have *no other option* but to use the pound.

          1. Aindí Mac An Táiliúra

            You didn’t answer the question. Please list the companies who have stated that they will leave Scotland post independence.
            As for Scotland’s membership of the EU. Look at the former Eastern Block nations who have been allowed to join the EU in the last decade. They were underdeveloped with poor economies and often poor records on human rights and yet they have been allowed to join. Do you really believe the EU will ask Scotland to re-apply as a new member when it clearly has an excellent infrastructure and a more than adequate economy to sustain it’s population?

          2. Snakey_Pete

            5.3 million people of Scotland are also in the UK, it os not just the UK we will be voting to leave.

        4. Alba lass

          United Kingdom (of Scotland,Wales, England & N.Ireland ) is in the EU, you rightly say NOT Scotland, but I also say ..NOT England ! or doesn’t that count ,shouldn’t the remaining part of the U K have to re-apply if Scotland ‘goes it alone ! ??

          1. stew

            There are approximately 60 million EU citizens in the UK. 5.3 million of them live in Scotland.
            The EU has a policy of expansion and doesnt have any mechanisn to expel a current member state or its citizens. If Scotland chose to leave the EU after independence it would take as long, if not longer to negotiate its departure than it would to negotiate entry as a new member. Given that as an existing member at the moment as part of the UK we have all the conditions of membership in place and that our country, Scotland, already plays an integral part of EU policy, i.e. Fisheries, a flagship EU policy, by what level of the imagination do you suppose the EU would refuse Scotland entry by 2016. Politics is a strange creature and the EU can be right up there but can you imagine the chaos this would cause accross the whole of Europe. Trading costs, immigrants becoming illegal overnight and being detained in immigration centres awaiting repatriation, (that would be all the Scots in England and rUK citizens in Scotland, including mp’s), a fishing ban in the North sea for Spanish fishermen, extra duty on whisky, REAL border crossings….just to let us back in again??
            Politics isnt that stupid, and neither are we.

          2. Snakey_Pete

            Keep those fingers crossed, Stew! The triumph of hope over expectation. I can imagine the chaos in Scotland, but the EU wouldn’t notice. Citizenship is judged on residency, those born in Scotland but resident in the UK (and thus unable to vote) retain UK citizenship, but can apply for Scottish nationality. The same applies for those overseas.

            Look on the bright side, whisky and Bucky would be duty-free in Scotland unless Salmond slapped a tax on it.

        5. Bugger (the Panda)

          What is the UK going to do when the off-books PFI and variants, as well as Gov guaranteed pensions. Post Office, NCB, B. Steel, etc come onto the books and everyone knows they have to. the £1.6 trillion debt will become closer to £4 trillion.

          So who is going bankrupt?

    6. taranaich

      “Unfortunately, doesn’t address any of the concerns JK, myself and thousands of others have. Actual, real concerns – the EU, the border, the currency, etc.”

      You know, as the government of the sovereign state, Westminster could easily answer those questions formally, resolutely and unequivocably by actually asking the EU and engaging in pre-negotiations. The fact that they haven’t should have you questioning why that is.

    7. birnie

      Supporters of “No thanks” appear to question the price of everything but understand the value of very little. What is greater than the ability to make one’s own fundamental decisions, rather than have them taken by others? Politically, Scotland’s needs and aspirations barely register on Westminster’s radar. After the readjustment, how could Scotland fail to have a better future when Scotland sets its own priorities and does its best to address them?. For a concrete example of a better future, look to Finland, a country which started with virtually no material advantages except the gumption of its people, hemmed in by much stronger neighbours, and look at it now – a self-confident, industrialised, prosperous and fair society with an education system the envy of the world. It’s in Finland where my grandchildren are growing up and where I should prefer them to remain until an independent Scotland begins to catch up.

    8. Philip Harper

      If Mr Cameron would sit down and start the negotiations the yes side would be more able to give definitive answers on many of your questions! i wonder why he dose not want too? Again if Mr Cameron wished to start the negotiations with the EU he could give you some answers on your borders that you seem so worried about! So as you may now understand the only people blocking you from getting any definitive answers is the bitter together side unless of course you would like the yes side to pluck figures out of thin air like bitter together do!

    9. iain

      Interest rates, inflation, VAT, EU, exchange rates, unemployment, pensions, energy prices, security, international trade/agreements etc etc the list is endless. We dont know what will happen to any of them a year from now. Im concerned about all of these issues irrispective of independance.
      Fact is they are ALL unknowable today because…

    10. Michael Reilly

      I seem to recall one side publishing a 650 page document and the other side offering nothing, of course offering nothing is what West minister has been doing for the last 300 yrs and getting away with it virtue of a compliant 4th estate. Why offer a vision when your hard at work enacting the vision of your paymasters and they praise you for it!
      All the questions are phoney questions of distraction, because they dare not have you debating the real ones at all, not a lot will change to begin with but you’ll be closer to the truth and the levers of power, that would be a good start!

    11. mikeyg

      EU membership is surely a non-debate since the Conservatives and UKIP are planning a referendum to sever ties from Europe in the near future. currency, yes, i’d love answers on that question, but surely Scotland would not be cast afloat in the North Sea with no currency when most of our trade is with the rest of the UK. However, to vote NO based on European membership is ridiculous considering the UK will probably vote to weaken ties with Europe, or leave the EU altogether. Furthermore, Scottish people are European citizens, why wouldn’t a Scottish state that has plenty to offer Europe be allowed membership? many states with less resources to offer have been accepted, it is absolutely ridiculous that this is one of the most voiced reasons that people might vote no.

  3. Peter Leswell

    I will never, in whatever amount of time I have left on this earth understand why people A) Think that this is all about the Nationalists (and especially AS) i’ts not and B) wouldn’t want their vote to count. It is no more complicated that that.. It simply beggars belief

  4. Mark

    Very weak response there, Mairi. You seem to have not appreciated what Ms Rowling has written. She fears for the medical profession in an independent Scotland because every medical expert is saying it will. Yes voters have their heads in the sand and are ignoring FACTS and challenging them as ‘scaremongering’. Scotland has a load of benefits purely because it is in the UK. Free schooling and healthcare in Scotland is actually made possible because of Westminster. If you take that away, who then will pick up the bill? A nation of 5.2 millions would have to be taxed to the max in order to maintain all the privileges it already has. Anyone who thinks the referendum is anything but a political agenda set out by Alex Salmond is being grossly naive. He will only lead Scotland to ruin and I don’t believe he has the future of Scotland or Scots in his heart. He denies Scots elsewhere in the UK the right to vote on a matter that will impact their lives. How is that fair? He also praises political monsters like Putin and takes money from wealthy individuals who support the suppression of minority groups. He also appears to prey on the fact that there are a lot of people who inherently dislike the English in Scotland – as demonstrated by the fact he chose the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn as the date for the referendum, I believe, so that many Scots will vote using a 700 year old grudge. Have we not moved on since 1314? Scotland must WAKE UP and ask what this referendum is really about. It’s not ‘the future of Scotland’ – it’s the future of Alex Salmond. Don’t believe his lies or his made up facts and figures – and please dismiss his reliance on using ‘scaremongering’ as a defense every time someone hits him with the truth. He asks you to place too much faith in him. The pound is not guaranteed (and indeed the Bank of England has said so). More worryingly EU membership is not guaranteed. I believe Salmond wants to be part of Europe so Scotland can have a safeguard against bankruptcy but to think it will have automatic membership is flawed beyond words. Prospective member states have to be vetted and approved by all others in the Union and it is a fact that some – Spain in particular with it’s own possible referendum in Catalonia – will fight to block Scotland being a member. And what then? Will existing EU members be able to live and work in Scotland free of needing a Visa? Will Scots need a visa just to live and work in England? This, unfortunately, is a real likelihood. By achieving independence, how much will we have to actually surrender?

      1. Steve Letford

        I didn’t get past the second line of this nonsense when he says ” because every medical expert is saying it will.” Totally untrue. But why let facts get in the way of your blinkered opinion. I have to say i am encouraged by the polite measured responses here to the lies, half truths and and nonsense being spouted by the likes of Mark and John. It shows a maturity and reason that these mud slingers would benefit from.

      2. Roaming Adhocrat

        Agreed. Mark, all your points have been comprehensively addressed elsewhere. See,,,

    1. Maureen Luby

      Spain will do nothing of the sort! 50% of Spain’s fishing fleet works off the coast of Scotland and they won’t be willing to give that up.

        1. Tony Little

          Why would an Independent Scotland by Navy-less? There will be a share of assets, including MoD assets, and the government can easily purchase vessels. In any case this is hypothetical as Spain will not be vetoing Scotland’s renegotiation of EU membership, Their own ministers have stated this clearly.

        2. Graham Harris Graham

          There isn’t a single Navy warship based anywhere in Scottish waters right now. And if the missing Malaysian plane had crashed in the Atlantic, the British wouldn’t even have been able to provide a single search & reconnaissance jet to scour the ocean. They were all smashed while Gordon Brown was in office.
          British people need to stop referring to Commando Magazine for evidence of the mighty British armed forces. It no longer exists.

    2. Pete

      Note that EU membership is hardly guaranteed after 2015: the conservatives keep promising to hold an in/out referendum in response to the rise of UKIP. The EU is very much opposed to any territory leaving – although plenty of countries have expressed a desire to kick the UK out if we keep vetoing things, there’s no mechanism for doing that.

      Scotland can continue to use the pound in the short to medium term regardless of what the Bank of England thinks, just as many countries use the dollar. The option of an independent currency is available in the future if required.

      The passport situation will most likely be resolved just as it was for Ireland: Scots would be able to apply for British passports even while resident in Scotland.

    3. Tony Little

      I do not think there is a single fact or truth in any of this diatribe. Your comments have been debunked hundreds of time to date. and no doubt will have to be debunked again as the NO side (or should that be the “Westminster Dependency” side) repeat them ad nauseam in the hopes that repeating something often enough makes it true.

    4. Alistair Gray

      The problem with your position Mark is that it fails entirely to explain why we are having this referendum in the first place.

      The UK is facing a real crisis of legitimacy. The Westminster parliament is widely despised. Most people in Scotland (whether for indy or for devo-max) want Westminster to have as little to do with Scottish politics as possible. If the UK’s parliament cannot command the loyalty and respect of Scotland’s citizens, then the Union is indefensible and cannot survive.

      Listing difficulties which may (or may not) arise for an indy Scotland does nothing to acknowledge, still less address, this crisis.

      If you want to defend the union then you need to put forward an alternative to independence which is not just the status quo, because that status quo is self-evidently in crisis. If that were not so, then we would not have created a devolved parliament, and we would certainly not be having a referendum on independence.

      And I tell you from my own perspective, I want to see major reform at Westminster. I want to see a written constitution, proportional representation, massively strengthened local government, and a state prepared to stand up to the utterly corrupt City of London. If Westminster can’t deliver these things as a minimum, then I and millions of others will be ready to walk, regardless of the difficulties.

      1. Mark

        I actually agree with much of this. Reform of Westminster is a great idea. But breaking the Union is a bad idea. And Alex Salmond as a leader is even more frightening.

        1. Alistair Gray

          But the No campaign is proposing no reform of Westminster whatsoever. None. They seem not to grasp the issue at all.

          Millions of the UK’s citizens are on the point of walking away from her parliament, and it seems not to have occurred to that parliament that it itself might be the problem. I find it quite astonishing.

          I just can’t see where Westminster reform is going to come from.

          1. Alistair Gray

            I mean – if confronting the actual dissolution of the UK doesn’t force the British state to consider it might be doing something wrong, what would?

        2. taranaich

          “And Alex Salmond as a leader is even more frightening.”

          More frightening than David Cameron, Nigel Farage, or any of the others? You’re going to have to walk me through that one.

          1. Mark

            He’s already been labelled a dictator by politicians in Hollyrood. He sides with people who oppose minority groups and he seems to pluck facts and figures from thin air to suit his needs and ignore any information that contradicts it.

            Farage would, of course, be a nightmare – for obvious reasons. And Cameron won’t last for ever.

          2. jake cleland

            Cameron won’t last forever, but somehow Alex Salmond will? not sure you’ve entirely thought through your reasoning…

          3. Lorna

            Mark, the first step of the YES campaign is to get independence, the second step is for the people of Scotland to vote in a Government that WILL do the best for the people of Scotland. It has been estimated that it will take 18 months to complete all the negotiations if Scotland becomes independent. Just in time for the General Elections.

          4. Rab Simpson

            “He’s already been labelled a dictator by politicians in Hollyrood.”

            The last resort of an opposition with no argument to make.

            “I don’t like you so you’re Hitler!”

    5. Graham Harris Graham

      I recall that the reason the Battle of Bannockburn took place was as a consequence of a foreign army (from England) that had invaded it’s neighbour (Scotland) thus causing Scots to rise up with arms & drive them back out.

      To describe this period in our history as one sided racism is bizarre & without any merit or evidence whatsoever.

      And again, the only people who commonly mention Bannockburn first are protagonists if the status quo.

      1. Mark

        People in Scotland hate the English. That’s a very real fact, sadly. Just look at what some people are tweeting at JK Rowling for examples. It’s an ugly truth – Scotland has a lot of bigoted, intolerant people. And I think Alex Salmond knows this. For many, his referendum will be a way to say “F- off!” to England and that will be enough for them to vote Yes – without even thinking of the consequences. If a survey was held on the streets of Scotland asking ‘do you hate the English’ the results would be very different than if English people were asked ‘do you hate the Scots.’

        1. Maureen Luby

          Absolute nonsense. Watch the Janet Street-Porter programme. She came up here expecting ‘anti-English’ rhetoric and found none. Our issues are with Westminster not English people. Thank you

          1. R M

            Spend two minutes reading the comments on Facebook or other social sites and you’ll see how wrong you are.

        2. Lorna

          I have many friends that are English and live in England, my father in law is English, so please do NOT paint all Scots with the same brush! I have read many articles and blogs on the referendum and have seen a number of comments from English people using vulgar language to say they hate the Scots and want us to vote YES to get rid of us. The people on both sides who make these small minded comments are the minority and really aren’t worth a second thought.

          I like many others would be happy for Scotland to remain part of the UK if Westminster was completely reformed. I agree that the Government should spend the £4 million to repair the class 1 listed building that are the houses of parliament (although I think a substantial amount should come out the pockets of those using the building), after all it is a very important part of English History that attracts millions of tourists each year. I love England just as much as I love Wales, Ireland and of course my home, Scotland.

          However, Westminster can’t seem to see beyond the boundaries of London. I don’t believe there is a “Party” out there that could look at all the Countries that make up the UK and deal with each Country’s needs on an individual basis. Each of our Countries are unique, just like the people that live in it. We may all be the same flesh and blood but we all look for different things, want different things and have dreams of what we can become. If Scotland becomes independent, for the first time in history the Scottish people will be able to vote in the Scottish Government they want that will hopefully do their best for the people in Scotland. This may also be the wake up call that Westminster needs to bring about reform or a “Party” may form that is willing to do their best for the people of the remaining UK. I sincerely hope this happens as Westminster cannot be allowed to continue as they are.

        3. Rab Simpson

          “People in Scotland hate the English. That’s a very real fact, sadly.”

          That which can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

          Go get your evidence or retract your remarks.

    6. Tina Forde

      ‘…every medical expert is saying it will.’ That is simply untrue and I wonder why you seek to represent issues in this way. I refer you to Academics for Yes and to the recent statement by the CE of the UK Research Councils, who envisages continued cooperation post indy. The Scottish Government has also assured the research community that research funding will be protected.

      Your other points are amptly addressed by others here and have been addressed on numerous occasions, prior to this. Seems to me, you refuse to hear.

    7. mikeyg

      “More worryingly EU membership is not guaranteed” the tories and UKIP are planning a referendum to sever ties with Europe. this has to be one of the biggest non-debates, and worryingly i hear it every day. independence or not, their may be no EU membership for the UK in the near future, let alone the many reasons as to why an independent Scotland should and would be welcomed. as for your ridiculous comment regarding Bannockburn, i’m from Bannockburn and i can assure you that nobody there, or anywhere else for that matter, has 1314 in mind when they debate the referendum. it is of no relevance whatsoever to anyone and is idiotic to suggest so. furthermore, no-one is voting for Alex Salmond, i dislike him also and would be voting against him being the first minister, but are his lies and agendas any different to any other politician? anyone could dig up dirt on any politician if they looked hard enough for it. besides, i can see the political parties splitting and a massive reshuffle taking place, Salmond could easily be elbowed to the side in favour of a more suitable candidate to lead the country. people simply believe in a fairer and more representative democratic society and we believe we have the necessary tools to make it a success, we are not voting for one man and his lies, give the adults of Scotland more credit. i wouldn’t mind paying tuition fees or for a prescription or any other perceived ‘freebie’ (if that’s the case), rather than contribute to high speed rail links that are of no use to anyone north of the border, or nuclear submarines close to our biggest city. the billions saved from an oversized army, meddling in foreign affairs, nuclear submarines, and many other unnecessary expenses would be more than enough to cover the cost of independence and invest in medical research.

    8. mikeyg

      i agree that currency is a worry and we need answers now. however, “More worryingly EU membership is not guaranteed” the tories and UKIP are planning a referendum to sever ties with Europe. this has to be one of the biggest non-debates, and worryingly i hear it every day. independence or not, there may be no EU membership for the UK in the near future anyway, or a vastly different relationship with Europe. let alone stating the many reasons as to why an independent Scotland would be welcomed, such as we are already European citizens, why not after a yes vote? we have plenty to offer Europe and everyone knows this, even the Spanish MP’s. Furthermore, many states with less resources have gained membership and access to European markets – such as the Baltic states – the EU debate will be proved to be a waste of time.

      as for your ridiculous comment regarding Bannockburn, i’m from Bannockburn and i can assure you that nobody there, or anywhere else for that matter, has 1314 in mind when they debate the referendum. it is of no relevance whatsoever to anyone and is idiotic to suggest so.

      furthermore, no-one is voting for Alex Salmond, i dislike him also and would be voting against him being the first minister in the event of a general election in an independent Scotland. He’s merely the figure who got the ball rolling. in addition, are his lies, cover-ups and his swerving of difficult questions any different to any other politician? definitely not. the debate shouldn’t be about him, he is just the leader of the party who made it possible. anyone could dig up dirt on any politician if they looked hard enough for it. besides, i can see the political parties splitting and a massive reshuffle taking place, Salmond could easily be elbowed to the side in favour of a more suitable candidate to lead the country.

      people simply believe in a fairer and more representative democratic society and some of us believe we have the necessary tools to make it a success, we are not voting for one man and his lies, give the adults of Scotland more credit. i wouldn’t mind paying tuition fees or for a prescription or any other perceived ‘freebie’ (if that’s the case), rather than contribute to high speed rail links that are of no use to anyone north of the border, or nuclear submarines close to our biggest city. the billions saved from an oversized army, meddling in foreign affairs, nuclear submarines, the wasteful spending by the public sector on useless projects, and many other unnecessary expenses would be more than enough to cover the cost of independence and invest in medical research and such like.

  5. Plums Deify

    “Neither do I share your confidence about devolution post-No. Yes, devolution has protected us from what is being done to public services south of the border: a systematic destruction of the NHS, welfare and education. A free health service, a welfare system and free education for all is absolutely vital for the flourishing of society. The only possible means to protect what is vital is to vote Yes.”

    This paragraph is utter waffle. Its conclusion – ‘The only possible means to protect what is vital is to vote Yes’ is jut a baseless assertion (how’s Irish independence working out on that front, by the way?) which completely contradicts the rest of the paragraph: ‘Yes, devolution has protected us from what is being done to public services south of the border’. Er…

      1. Plums Deify

        Oh right, thanks for clearing that up.

        My point is independence is not a panacea. It potentially opens Scotland up *even more* to the power of international capital (remember how we were going to join the Celtic Tigers? The SNP still intend to significantly lower corporation tax as far as I’m aware…). So not only has devolution succeeded in the aims the author desires – as she herself admits – it is not by any means clear that independence would do the same.

        1. taranaich

          “My point is independence is not a panacea.”

          Who the hell says it was? It doesn’t have to be some sort of magical impossible dream to be better than the ridiculous situation we’re currently in as a country that has less power over its taxes than the average US *town,* let alone county, let alone state.

          1. Plums Deify

            The sentence you have isolated is within the context of a discussion about whether national independence would be a better means to protect “a free health service, a welfare system and free education for all.” The second sentence goes on to refer to the risks that face a small nation in the present global context. Ireland – previously so often trumpeted as a good model to follow, now apparently irrelevant, ho ho! – demonstrates the effectiveness with which international capital can undermine the things the author wishes to protect. Of course Ireland are not clamouring to rejoin the UK – what a facile point. What Ireland *are* doing, however, is facing the prospect of an increasingly centralised eurozone including – irony of ironies – increased fiscal control from Brussels.

            Now, all that borne in mind, two claims were made in the article:

            1. That independence is the only way of protecting the social services valued by the author.
            2. That devolution has thus far done so.

            These two points are contradictory in themselves. (And given you seem to think it sufficient to simply invoke “practical limits”, rather than define them, I can’t really comment. In any event, these practical limits – whatever they are – were not mentioned by the author. That is your argument, not hers). But the first point is particularly questionable when the experience of the eurozone is considered.

            So the assumptions that a) independence will definitely protect these services and b) continued union will definitely not, are both incorrect. Hence, not a panacea, or even necessarily an improved situation.

    1. taranaich

      “how’s Irish independence working out on that front, by the way?”

      I don’t hear them clamouring to rejoin the UK.

      “which completely contradicts the rest of the paragraph: ‘Yes, devolution has protected us from what is being done to public services south of the border’. Er…”

      “Completely?” Devolution is nearing its practical limits under the current Westminster system. This should be obvious after it took *ten years* to increase limited tax responsibilities to 20%. It is hardly contradictory to say something *has* protected us IN THE PAST, while saying that it won’t last forever – especially in the event of Barnett being abolished.

  6. Steve Letford

    From some of the replies below it sadly seems obvious that there are those who will constantly trivialise the Yes campaign. the see patriotism where it is not mentioned or considered relevant,they ignore the fact that many informed people people believe that an independent Scotland would be part of the EU whilst the rest of the UK will be holing a referendum on leaving the EU, the border issue has been clarified on many occasions but still these answers are ignored. The words above are certainly not ‘fluffy’ but people like John are so entrenched that thye simply spout the same old negative ill informed nonsense. It’s sad really, as this type of non engagement in debate and simple denial of the facts provided does nothing to help people make their minds up.

    1. Graham Harris Graham

      Any EU citizen is allowed to get treated by any other EU member. The only threat is from Britain leaving the EU, not the other way around.

      1. Rab Simpson

        I can’t help but laugh when the ‘no’ brigade shout about not wanting Scotland to become politically independent, but then immediately turn around and shout about wanting to leave the EU.

  7. revjimbob

    Rowling wrote:
    ‘when people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage…’
    I have honestly never heard anyone mention anything to do with that. This, the first time I have heard it brought up in the campaign, comes from a Better Together supporter.

    1. Mark

      Look at the abuse she is receiving now as an example. Misinformed people accusing her of having ‘no right’ to voice her opinion just because she’s English would be one…

      1. Roaming Adhocrat

        It takes about twenty minutes to set up a WordPress account and record evidence of abuse, as I did when Frances Barber asserted cybernat attacks a few days ago. Would you like to do this, Mark, can you archive and shame those who would make attacks based on her English past?

      2. maximusScotia

        That’s a completely misleading statement.

        If I were as famous as she and I said something that could be seen as ‘anti-panda’ then there’d probably be a pro-panda lobby or group somewhere that would send me some hate mail and threats.

        That doesn’t mean such a group is a significant force in society, just like these so called ‘fringe’ ethnic nationalists.

  8. David Gillan

    Mark your statement that all the Scots hate the English is both inaccurate and imflamitry, for that to be true, I would hate my kids and grandchildren, as they are St Georges cross English and proud of it, if you are saying that to me, you and I have a problem son! Also did you ever serve your country, as I have in an English regiment, so take your hate of us Scots your bigotry against us and I will see you after the referendum, don’t make this personal son! because your full of distain for a nation of people that you clearly do not understand

    1. Mark

      I do think a lot of Scots inherently dislike the English. Not all Scots, of course. But an unfortunate few do. It will probably become clear once the World Cup starts and you’ll see some Scots comment against the English team and jeer if they were to lose. I don’t think English people would do the same.

      1. David Gillan

        Some yes! Will never disguise that fact, some even hate each other it’s called bibotry! An absolutely disgusting form to behold! However they are an absolute minority I am glad to report! English supporters have no requirement to put the Scotland team down for the reason the guy below has stated, but I will share with you something I have never felt towards anyone, is the feeling of hate! I have experienced hate however never adopted it as part of my humanity.

        Revaluating your comment is the correct and right thing to do and is appreciated, it would be better for all during this very important and necessary debate, to appreciate we are all human beings with the right to opinion.

        I would also like to point out that apart from the most biased of people, that you have to be blind deaf and dumb, not to see what is going on towards the people of Scotland who are exercising there democratic right, being treated in a shameless and derogatory fashion by Westminster, note i say Westminster and not the rUK.

        Whatever the outcome of this referendum, the treatment of my people will never be forgotten and could so easily have been avoided, the ruk government choose to treat us like shite! On the bottom of their boot!

        They will have created a few more haters amongst us, that did not have to be!

        Soar Alba

      2. Rab Simpson

        “a lot”

        How many is this then? Saying ‘a lot’ and expecting it to mean something is useless. Give us numbers. What percentage of Scots *inherently* dislike the English (for whatever reason)? What data do you have to support this?

        “I don’t think English people would do the same.”

        Clearly you don’t read the comments sections of the Telegraph or Daily Express when an #indyref article is posted.

        There are people on both sides of the border who’re bigoted, but I won’t accept any claims that one side is *inherently* bigoted against the other without some solid empirical evidence to support it, so you can either supply said evidence or you can retract your remarks.

  9. Welsh not British

    I cannot understand why someone who has raised so much money to help those in poverty and who has lived in poverty themselves would then try and help keep Scotland in what is the most unequal state in the western world.

    The only answer I can come up with is that she is holding out for something a little better than a n OBE, possibly a Damehood.

    I just hope that some talented people can come up with some great sequels for the Potter franchise. Harry Potter and the food bank of Trussel or something like that.

  10. conrad atkinson

    If I were a young scot I would vote yes to independence simply for cultural(identity) reasons I have no clue about the economics but would still vote yes

  11. AndyLapel

    I genuinely think being part of the UK is best for the country – mainly because if UK-level decisions will still affect us under a currency union/single market for services/etc. (and they will) we’re better off still having direct representation in UK decision-making (i.e. local MPs). I support devolution where it makes sense (with direct representation for local areas by MSPs) and having direct representation at the UK-level for those decisions that it still makes sense to have decided by UK institutions (such as monetary policy and all of the co-ordination required to make a currency union work).

    However I appreciate that not everyone thinks that way and I think this article is an honest and respectful response. That’s the way the debate should be conducted in my view. We shouldn’t let the campaign get taken over by the unsavoury types who shout the loudest (British nationalists and people like the Orange Order on the No side; the people like the Dignity Project who sent their horrendous tweet on the Yes side).

  12. R M

    “The campaign you see is not the campaign I see”

    Well, it’s the campaign I see, as well. Her complaint that the “Yes” campaign has a habit of simply ignoring the negative consequences as “scaremongering” is exactly correct. They’ve done it again and again and again. I wonder how those campaigners feel, now that their prevarication has led to a high-publicity financial endorsement of the “No” campaign. Personally I’m finding the irony very enjoyable.

  13. Nicola Carey

    As an individual who is half Scottish, half English but born in Canada the thing which I fundamentally do not understand is why a selection of people who happen to be living in one place at a certain time are being given a choice which will so fundamentally change the make up of the entire UK , but I as an individual not living there right now am not. Right now, we are all British, we all have British passports and it is a miscarriage of justice that the Scottish people are being allowed to make a decision that could bring profound economic instability to those who have no say. Right now I have a Canadian and British passport, I do not live in Canada but am eligible as a citizen to register to vote remotely because as a citizen I still have a vested interest in what happens there. As someone living in the north of England I have a vested interest in what happens in terms of Scottish independence but despite actually living in the country where this referendum is taking place, I have no say. And what about the Scottish people who for whatever reason (opportunity, personal etc.) are not living in Scotland right now, but had every intention of living there in the future – why don’t they get a say. I appreciate the Scottish people’s general desire to live by different, more socialist principles and to govern themselves in their best interest, really I do. But a yes result fills me with real worry.

    1. Rab Simpson

      “we are all British”

      We’re Europeans too. These things won’t actually change.

      “we all have British passports”

      No we don’t. A considerable percentage of the UK population don’t have a passport at all.

      “and it is a miscarriage of justice that the Scottish people are being allowed to make a decision that could bring profound economic instability to those who have no say”

      You mean like what Tony’s Labour and David’s Conservatives have done? Scotland is getting out from under this mess because we can, and I’d encourage everyone else who can’t to push for radical reform. Scotland would join in, but history has shown that our opinion as a people is fucking worthless within the palace of Westminister. Additionally, ‘Scottish people’ aren’t the ones who’ll be voting, that would be people who’re resident in Scotland and on the voters roll regardless of their country of birth.

      “As someone living in the north of England I have a vested interest in what happens in terms of Scottish independence but despite actually living in the country where this referendum is taking place, I have no say.”

      This is because Scotland and England are not the same country and never have been. You have no say because you’re not resident IN Scotland. There are people who were born in Scotland and have roots going back tens of generations who also have no say, because guess what, they’re NOT LIVING IN SCOTLAND.

      “And what about the Scottish people who for whatever reason (opportunity, personal etc.) are not living in Scotland right now, but had every intention of living there in the future – why don’t they get a say.”

      See above. This is not a blood and soil referendum.

      “But a yes result fills me with real worry.”

      Look towards Whitehall. Look at what’s been done there over the past 35 years and tell me that DOESN’T fill you with worry.

      I’m voting ‘yes’, and if those around me are well informed enough to do the same, we’ll be leaving those thieves (far too mild a word in this context) behind.

  14. Aindí Mac An Táiliúra

    I’m an Englishman living in the Republic of Ireland. To answer one of the queries regarding cross border medical treatment: Ireland has an agreement with the UK whereby patients in need of medical treatment in either state are transported by the Irish Air Corp or the RAF to a hospital where treatment can be gained. Likewise, organs are regularly donated cross border between the two states. I don’t see why this agreement along with many others would not continue across the Scottish border, post independence.

    1. Rab Simpson

      I’m in agreement, although that won’t stop the “please don’t leave us! We love your money!” brigade from claiming that it won’t continue, along with the monarchy, the pound, and easy border crossing.

      It’s amazing what they’ll claim. The mental thing is, with Scotland being politically separate, the United Kingdom will remain entirely intact as this campaign only suggests dissolving the union of the parliaments (1707), not the union of the crowns (1603), but the Project Fear (their words) campaign won’t mention this for fear of losing the RFC (queen and country, rule britannia) element.

  15. Singapom

    You either believe in being separate, or you believe in joining together. The logical arguments either way matter not much: it’s an emotional belief, albit rooted in common sense. You’re either a separatist, or a joiner. It;s a simple as that.

    1. Hearthammer

      I regard myself as an internationalist and yet I will be voting “Yes!” Why, I hear you ask? Well, it’s because I want MY country to join the world and not be closeted off as part of a failed state!

      What will change? Well, Scotland will be a successful country on it’s own and if you believe the London MWPs and their poodle press (along with various fascist groupings), England will be as rich as Croesus! I would take that with a very large pinch, however!

      Things will change for Scots as we move forward in the world and if we are to believe all the stuff about independence coming out of London, you will also save billions by not have having to support us!

      We only want to be separate from Westminster, not the world.

    2. Rab Simpson

      “You either believe in being separate, or you believe in joining together.”

      Oh look, the ‘anti-English’ angle. Pull the other one.

      The only people being separated from Scotland are Westminister politicians.

  16. SFord P Flickr

    “The nationalism I feel comfortable with is a civic nationalism, a welcoming narrative, a politics of inclusion where all those who choose to live here” Is the point of this open letter not just to strongarm the opposition? It is hardly a civil nor welcoming nor a benign form of Nationalism.

    1. Rab Simpson

      Sorry, do you perceive what you quoted as strong arming? If you meant something else, I’d love to see an example.

  17. Mythril Graham

    I just never thought that J.K. herself would fall under the wiles of Voldemort the dark lord. Is it possible she is currently being held under the imperious curse? Regardless it will come down to us little muggles to get the point across that an Independent Scotland will be a far fairer and more equal place than it would be still in the uk.

    1. Rab Simpson

      Better that than vote ‘no’ and wait for wee George to sink his teeth into our coffers with even more zeal than he has since the day him and his crew of silver spoon juggling chums took office.

    1. Rab Simpson

      You’re definitely not afraid of the (deliberately imposed) austerity being suffered down south creeping over the border? What about the voice that we don’t have in Westminister? Are you definitely not afraid of that?

      Perhaps you’re afraid of the responsibility that comes with having a vote that counts as opposed to one which is ignored and has been for decades.

    2. Mark Hunter

      We are a proud nation and we deserve our identity and our country back. The English invaded our country, executed our royality and have continually pillaged our countries resources. Scotland can and will thrive once we rid ourselves of England. There has been separation between our countries for years, there is and always will be a standing hatred across our borders. The English government look out for themselves, Scotland is an after thought and only we have the power to change this. Anyone who doesn’t grab this opportunity with both hands is a fool.

  18. Snakey_Pete

    This is more puff and rainbows. If you don’t defeat the ‘huge risks’ dismissed so lightly in this letter, those ‘huge risks’ will defeat all of us.

    Why do people wish to vote No? It is because they are prepared to confront the realities of an independent Scotland and the risks it would bring; something Yes supporters refuse to do, at least in public. “The Yes campaign cannot afford be seen to admit any flaws in its argument”. Indeed. That does not mean there are no flaws, just that they will not be debated.

    1. Nkosi

      All the no argument is a big flaw it has no sustenance, just doom, gloom and despair, who in their right mind would want to believe them? Vote yes and get respect.

  19. Liberated Nadz

    some time in 2007, an ESOL student at that time, I wrote an essay about independence:
    This burning question has occupied the population of
    Scotland for last few years, since the SNP had pronounced independence as a
    general line of their politics. Scotland and England tied the knot four hundred
    years ago and since then have shared a great past. Now the relationship between
    the countries is officially called devolution. Does devolution give Scotland
    the same amount of value, rights and responsibilities?

    If the relationship between two countries was compared to
    the relationship between people, it would be look like two brothers who had
    grown up in a family and shared everything between them; from toys and habits
    to a room and parents. But once grown as adults, they will live separately and
    establish their own families. They will still be the same and have the same
    parents and surnames but they will have a different life, an independent life.
    Just like the brothers they will support and help each other but every decision
    will be made alone, and every mistake or success will be their own. It is life.

    What will Scotland get as an independent country?
    Currently Scotland contributes to the UK economy by the most profitable
    industries such as oil, gas, whisky and tourism. But surely the independence is
    not only about economy. Definitely not. As a result Scotland is now
    recognisable as a country rather than, as was perceived elsewhere, as part of
    England. A country with culture, rich past and natural resources deserves to
    develop in its own way with equalities and diversity.

    Actually, the desire for independence is a natural
    feeling which has always been present through the thousands and thousands of
    years of human’s development. When Scotland can make its own decision about
    defence, foreign affairs, social security, immigration, trade and industry, finance
    and banking, electricity and nuclear energy, national security – then it would
    be a truly independent country. Let’s see then.

    I am sure both countries, England and Scotland, can live
    peacefully and help each other like brothers; meanwhile they should keep their
    independence as proof of having solidarity and mutual respect.

  20. Eric Mcoo

    Leveson Report: Alex Salmond had ‘striking’ willingness to lobby for Rupert Murdoch

    Alex Salmond displayed a “striking” willingness to lobby the Government on behalf of Rupert Murdoch after developing a relationship of “mutual respect and admiration” with the media mogul, the Leveson inquiry has found.

    Guardian: Leveson criticises Salmond for offering to lobby on behalf of Murdoch

    Salmond tugging the forelock to the Council on Foreign Relations, the centre of American global hegemony.

    In the bygone days of yore (hint), Scotland was a strongly Conservative / Unionist country. Then came oil in the 1960s.

    Daily Record newspaper switching from the Unionists to Labour,the Conservatives in the 1960s..

  21. Eric Mcoo

    Scottish culture is to a large extent based on the silly Jacobite
    romantic novels of Walter Scott written around 100 years after
    the death of Jacobism . In other words, a fantasy. In 1745,
    Cumberland had pummelled the catholic succession, Highland clans and
    their evil slave culture into the dust of history

    Scott was
    certainly good for tourism and the kilt industry .


      This is just racist guff. Why do you single out Highland clans as having an evil slave culture?? Just nonsense. Cumberland oversaw the pillaging of the Highlands without a care as to what side people had been on.
      Gaelic culture lived on and had nothing to do with Scott. Neither Scottish or Gaelic culture is defined by Scott’s romantic novels. it is just an aspect of Scottish culture. your attack is puerile.

      1. Eric Mcoo


        Brilliant article on the man who invented the silliness we now accept as Scottish ‘culture’. Walter Scott.

        Waverley was followed by many other novels, but it was Scott’s role as the impresario behind the visit of George IV to Edinburgh in 1822 which changed Scotland forever. Scott was part Peter Mandelson, part Simon Cowell; a politically astute fixer with an eye for what the public can be made to want……

        It’s difficult to recapture how audacious this was. George would wear the “uniform” of the people who had tried to oust his great-grandfather from the throne: like Prince Harry wearing an SS costume. Scott circulated a pamphlet of hints where George was described as the “chief” to the clan of Scotland. He even spread misinformation that George could, legally, be considered the heir to the Jacobite claim to the throne. The visit covered Edinburgh in tartan, last seen as the symbol of an occupying force, put bagpipes and heather on every street corner, and made Highland culture the shorthand for Scottish culture. Even in his day, it was denounced as a “plaided panorama” and “Celtified pageantry”. But its legacy is astonishing.

        It’s why Queen Victoria said that in her heart, she was a Jacobite. It’s why nationalists wore kilts. It’s why we have a “Tartan Week” in New York.

        Almost anything we now consider culturally, even nationally, Scottish has its roots in what Scott did and wrote. From language to dress, from how others see us to how we see ourselves, from tourists to the cash they spend, is all Scott’s doing – he was the man who forced the Treasury to allow the Scottish banks to keep printing their own notes, during the financial meltdown of 1825: it’s why his face is still on Bank of Scotland tenners. Scott was always the marriage guidance counsellor to the Union, rather than its divorce lawyer. He was adamant that England was putting the Union in peril in 1825, and persuaded a decent outcome.


        His literary work played no small role in preserving Scottish distinctiveness, while his stage management of George IV’s preposterously tartan-drenched 1822 visit to Edinburgh popularised a new, faux-ancient culture that was much-derided from the first yet which thrives today. Scott’s use of real locations, such as the Trossachs in The Lady of the Lake, sparked a massive increase in tourism and Scott is still invoked to attract visitors, few of whom will have read a word he wrote.


          What nonsense! this is firmly in the school of general racist and Hugh Trevor Roper who also said nothing noteworthy happened in Africa till the white Europeans turned up.

          This is basically an attempt to suggest that Gaelic culture never happened. Yes it was romanticised and turned into something quite foreign by the romantic Scots and beyond but this was a product of its time as well.

          trying to suggest that tartan and all things Scottish was merely Scott’s invention is just silly. Yes Scott put on a pageant for George but so what? All countries have pageantry and myths within them and to suggest otherwise is either ignorant or deceitful. Do you think the people of the Highlands gave a toss what was happening in Edinburgh at that time? No they were getting on with their culture enjoying their bards output and their music, dance storytelling etc. The Romantic era happened all over Europe and singling out Scotland as unauthentic is just silly. It is just a mechanism to try and suggest that every thing Scottish is inauthentic and that Scots are foolish and not capable of a culture. It is a shallow and false analysis.

          Hugh Trevor Roper came out with this claptrap in the 80’s and, despite being discredited time and again, has been repeated by ignorant people every time they wish to attack Scotland.

          Trying to tell us that Highland culture never existed is utter nonsense. You may think Scotland and Scottish culture or Highland culture consists entirely of the more garish tourist images but the vast majority of Scottish people know differently. Every country has a naff tourist image and morons may try and state that this is all their culture amounts to.

          The symbols of Gaelic culture where and are real. Pibroch was the classical music of the pipes, tartan was worn by Highlanders up until it was banned and then it continued to be worn in the military (where a lot of Gaels enlisted). None of these were romantic inventions. Scott merely took an already existing culture and did what he did with it. He invented the tourist image but he was using Gaelic imagery that existed. Gaelic culture went on despite being pillaged and then colonised. Chiefs sons sent away to English speaking schools or their lands would be forfeit etc. Gaelic cultures leaders either left, went bankrupt or became fully anglicised and part of a wider upper middle class/lower upper class of British society. This was when the outside images of Scott etc. came in they define a certain image of Scotland from a certain time for a certain audience. Trying to claim Scott invented Scotland or Highland imagery is nonsense. Apparently there were Highland chiefs at the pageantry in Edinburgh who found the whole thing bizzarre.

          Yes there are echoes of this but if you think Scottish people think of themselves as this stylised version?? Do Londoners think of themselves as pearly kings or beef eaters?

          I come from a Gaelic speaking area and I could show you the ongoing culture that has survived despite others misappropriating the culture. This is Scotland and the Highlands and the culture is real. Trying to say otherwise is complete ignorance.

          You honestly think posting some thing about Scott’ Highland pageantry suggests cotland has no culture and it is all based on this event or his books? I suggest you do some reading.

          1. Eric Mcoo

            Highland culture certainly existed. Scott borrowed from it and it preposterously became general Scottish culture. Even in the 1960s, it was still very strong.


            It was never all there was to Scotland and Scotland has a lot more going on than that. In fact your response shows just how much Scotland has come on from its position as a military culture.

            The Highland cultural image was strong for lots of reasons. Possibly the strongest was the military image. Highlanders were brought into the army and allowed this strong identity there. It was a highly militaristic society and The British Government directed this militaristic tradition towards their own ends. It started out as Highland regiments but then after the admiration they got etc. (especially from Victoria) all the other regiments wanted a piece of this image. Scott was in there as well but a lot of it had to do with the Napoleonic Wars etc. After the ‘Irish mutiny’ the English were scared the Scots would leave them too. Scotland was probably the most militarised country in the world at that point. The Scots didn’t rebel and so could help fight Napoleon. The Brits were very happy with this and this as well as Scott and other romantic writers helped the Highland image become so strong.
            Also, linked to the Napoleonic wars was the fact that noone could go on the great tours of Europe they were used to. The Highlands became ‘the other’ and the Highlanders went from being murderous traitors in the propaganda of the day to becoming the ‘noble savage’. Both were racist and ignorant but there you go. The rich now traveled to the Highlands (yes and they read Scott) it was a tourist destination for the first time. The Highlands sold and it is no wonder this romantic image stuck to a degree. Meanwhile the Gaels got on with their culture for the most part having nothing to do with this.

            What did the Highlanders get?? Well their families got cleared while they were off fighting. This kind of thing happens in colonial situations. The Highlands were colonised and the same colonial techniques were used across the world to destroy very many other cultures as British supremacist values were unleashed on the world. It seems some can’t help themselves from aping this 19th Century racism.

            Scott didn’t invent Scottish culture he was merely a strong player during the romantic era and as your article showed he had as much a hand in inventing ideas that the English have about themselves and England. All this sneering and stating our culture is simplistic and an invention is just ignorant, aggressive and puerile.

            You still haven’t explained why the clan system was an evil slave culture. Are you seriously trying to suggest that the clans had some hand in slavery above what anyone else was doing in Britain?? Is this just another simplistic go at the fact that some of those who left were involved in the slave trade in the USA? Where they the only emigrants that were? Weren’t the British very heavily involved as well?

            Here are a couple of articles from a historian who actually knows his stuff.



  22. Michael Lally

    I will be voting yes. I find it interesting how the decision to vote yes is very much a one way street. I have yet to speak to someone who has legitimately gone from yes to no or undecided. This tells me that people are simply being enlightened with accurate information and making their mind up accordingly.

  23. Catriona NicLeoid

    This is a well crafted response. Thanks so much for articulating what I was thinking following Rowling’s intervention.
    Whatever the result, and I do favor a strong YES, this is a demonstration in democracy. How often, if ever, are we given a direct say in our historical narrative?

  24. whs1954

    Oh yuk. I’m British, therefore I have a British dour stoicism, and I would sooner have a concrete “Independence will cost you £1300, and you can buy so many fish suppers with that” than this airy-fairy “hope, and rainbows, and eighteen year olds with the light of promise and joy shining in their eyes, and smiles and poetry, and beautiful warm sunshine over Edinburgh every day if you vote Yes; northward ho! the land is bright!”, coming from ivory tower academics whose feet are nowhere near on the ground.

    I am English, but I imagine many Scots share this very British attitude against cant.

  25. KingCuilean

    to whs1954 – I find your response quite shallow. It’s easy to sneer and take an imaginary ‘high ground’.We will be better off with independence. How could we not? Unless you stoically and dourly believe that a first past the post system which will always favour one of the two front runners (Labour/Conservative) to govern. Yet either of these will govern with a ludicrously small percentage of the popular vote, even for England, never mind ‘devil take the hindmost’ Scotland. Despite that, Lab/Con will concurrently display, once in government, a sense of political entitlement which beggars belief. Their sense of entitlement is buoyed up by a permanent civil service dedicated to preserving itself and political tradition as opposed to a civil service dedicated to supporting the will of the people, that nebulous will-o-the-wisp.. The people of the present UK are more removed from power than at any other time in modern day UK history any more removed than any other modern democracy. The political elite want to keep the people’s wishes out of Westminster corridors. Lock the doors, pretend we are not in for the next five years and maybe that dreadful hoi polloi electorate will sod off, whilst we milk the system for all its worth, place our supporters & backers into the unelected House of Lords, sell off the NHS to our family and friends and backers companies and devil take the hindmost and oh, yes, let’s blame all the migrants and YES voters. If the ‘YES’ vote could just ‘naff-off’, please, then the political elite, and their cronies, can get back to the serious business of quietly and ruthlessly selling off the family silver. Hell, take the kitchen sink too, gut the whole house.

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