We should point out in advance that we’re using the word “voter” quite wrongly here. But a piece in today’s Daily Record has us beaten all ends up for wrongness.
The article’s headline, “Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri: I wouldn’t vote for Scottish Independence”, is entirely accurate – the 1980s pop star lives in London and won’t be voting in the referendum. Her reasoning, though, is a touch unexpected.
“The 45-year-old, who was rushed to hospital with concussion last month after she fell while filming a video, believes that Scotland would crumble if it decided to go it alone.
She said: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m British. And, yeah, I’m Scottish but I feel I’m part of the UK. I think it’s very important to have a Scottish government who make decisions for Scotland but I can’t understand how Scotland would survive independently. We don’t have the resources – like oil and gas – we’d need to keep Scotland afloat.“
Now, admittedly we’ve just got up and haven’t checked ALL the papers yet, but we’re reasonably sure Scotland is in fact still awash in enough oil to prop up the economy for several decades. If it had run out last night, we feel all but certain we’d have heard about it. And possibly Ms Spiteri’s opinion has been affected by her concussion injury. But the rest of the article is somewhat on the dubious side too.
“The I Don’t Want a Lover singer joined the likes of Ewan McGregor, Billy Connolly, Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie and Sir Alex Ferguson who have nailed their colours to the No mast.”
That news came as quite a surprise to us. Sir Alex Ferguson, of course, is a fervent proponent of the Union. But we couldn’t recall the others expressing such opinions as could be described as “nailing their colours to the No mast”. So we got investigating.
Billy Connolly, most recently in the news for unleashing a foul-mouthed tirade at an official photographer and forgetting his lines onstage, was reported in the Herald in December as having “vowed to stay out of political discussions” on the subject.
The paper noted “Connolly has been vocal in his disapproval of Scottish independence in the past, but admitted that 2012 has been ‘a very interesting time for Scotland'”, and quoted his current views as altogether more ambiguous:
“I don’t like showbusiness people lecturing the public on how they should vote anyway. I’ve always found that a kind of precocious state, and I’ve done it before you know, and when I look back at some of the things I’ve said I feel kind of stupid.’
I would like to know with these things, these master moves, how much it’s going to cost the people to do this, do they need another layer of government, and how it’s going to affect the average person, the average Joe. Is it going to affect his life? If it’s for the better, it’s up to him. But Scots are very capable of making up their mind without my tuppence worth.”
Leaving aside for a moment that creating “another layer of government” is the precise OPPOSITE of what independence is seeking to achieve, we’re not sure we’d describe that position as someone “nailing their colours to the No mast”. Who’s next?
We’re big Primal Scream fans here at WingsLand, and we thought we’d have noticed if the band’s frontman Bobby Gillespie had come out in favour of the Union. The singer’s political views are firmly on the left, but he hasn’t had much to say on independence – the only reference we could find anywhere was in another Record piece from last month, in which he took aim at the entire body politic of the UK.
“At the moment, this Coalition Government is crushing the poorest sections of society and the cuts keep coming. It is class war. Someone like Thatcher would have loved to have done this, but she couldn’t do it in the late 70s or early 80s because the trade union movement was huge.
There was an organised opposition but this government doesn’t have an opposition. It’s not coming from a Labour Party that also serves corporate interests and isn’t going to represent working class or disadvantaged people.
Everybody has been hammered, not just the Scottish. We can’t be nationalistic about it. Nationalism has never done it for me. It leads to fascism. Ultimately, someone like Alex Salmond manipulates people’s national pride and insecurities but he is obviously a power-mad kind of guy.”
So Bob doesn’t like the Tories, Lib Dems, Labour, or the SNP. But independence is about more than the SNP – the Greens, Scottish Socialists and others are regularly at pains to point out that their support for independence isn’t “nationalist”.
Gillespie’s objections to “nationalism”, then, don’t exactly amount to the rallying cry for the Union that the Record claims, even allowing for the fact that in the week a new SNP MSP was sworn into the Scottish Parliament in French, he seems a little mixed up between the ethnic and civic forms to say the least. (And as another London resident, he also won’t be voting in the referendum anyway.)
And what of Ewan McGregor? The sole quote from him in the Record article is “I love Scotland with all my heart. But I also like the idea of Great Britain”. Which is all very nice, but “Great Britain” won’t be going anywhere if Scotland votes for independence – it’s a geographical entity, not a political one.
So we had a look to see if we could find a fuller version of the quote. It didn’t take long.
“I got in trouble once when I was drunk in a press conference in Cannes and made a rude remark about a Scottish actor who’s very pro-independent Scotland. But behind my comments at the time was the fact that I don’t think it’s for anybody who doesn’t live in Scotland to tell the Scottish people how to feel about Scotland. And I still feel the same way about it.
Again, it seems to fall some distance short of anything being nailed to a mast.
Of the Record’s five alleged No-camp flagwavers, four live outside Scotland and won’t be voting, and three have made statements which are, at best, non-committal. We’re not at all convinced that that makes them “a growing number of Scotland’s most influential celebrities who have come out publicly and backed the No campaign”.
Indeed, given the Record’s past desperation when it came to claiming well-known Scottish people for the Union, we might be inclined to suggest that it had resorted to flat-out lying to its readers.