• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Votes lacking but opinions aplenty

From the first moments of the referendum campaign, celebrities have been involved in the debate.

When the Yes campaign was launched in 2012, up there on the stage with Alex Salmond were the actors Brian Cox and Alan Cumming and there was an endorsement from Sir Sean Connery. Many of Scotland's leading artists and writers have also formed a National Collective to push for a Yes vote.

The celebrity voices for a No vote by contrast have been quieter but the pace is gathering. Earlier this month, the writer and producer David Maclennan declared his support for No and in the past few days the fashion designer Christopher Kane has done the same.

Now David Bowie's dramatic, albeit brief, intervention - "Scotland, stay with us" - has arguably taken celebrity involvement to a new level. For many, Bowie is an icon and, around the world, he is a massive star. Indeed, he is probably the most famous person to have expressed an opinion on independence to date and it is undoubtedly a boost for the Better Together campaign.

The question is: should Bowie have done it? The so-called cybernats certainly do not believe so and were making their views clear yesterday with four-letter rants online and suggestions that Bowie should stay at home in New York and declarations that he had no right to express an opinion. "What gives him the right to tell Scotland what to do when he doesn't even pay taxes here?" one asked.

Quite apart from the continuing, unwelcome toxicity of the cybernats' contribution to the debate online, such arguments against Bowie expressing an opinion are hard to sustain. For example, claims that he should stay out of the debate because he lives in New York or does not pay taxes in Scotland could equally apply to Alan Cumming or Sir Sean on the Yes side.

Some of the other criticism of Bowie has centred on the fact he will not have a vote in September and has few connections with Scotland. He does have a few - he came here when he was considering retraining as a Buddhist monk and his son went to school in Scotland - but no British person, famous or non-famous, should have to prove their Scottishness before expressing an opinion. As Bowie's fellow musician Billy Bragg said yesterday: "We don't have a vote but we can have an opinion."

Whether the Scottish singer Annie Lennox would agree with that is less certain after her interjection on her Facebook page. In the past, Lennox has said independence could be an amazing opportunity but she appeared to be in a more cautious mood yesterday, warning that there was a strong element of risk and that it was important not to be swayed by what she called heady patriotic emotion.

Lennox then went on to say that her "view doesn't count in any case" (presumably because she lives in London) but that cannot be true. Scotland and the UK are engaged in the most important national debate in our collective history and every contribution, respectfully expressed, should be considered, from Scots and non-Scots; the famous and non-famous; and even from the Thin White Duke.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

214256