Scottish Musicians Speak Out on Today’s Scottish Independence Referendum Vote

Members of Belle and Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, Django Django, Frightened Rabbit, Ladytron, The Pastels, The Twilight Sad, The Vaselines, and Others on if They Are Voting Yes or No

Sep 17, 2014
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Today is a historic day in Scotland as it is the day the nation votes on the Scottish Independence Referendum. The people of Scotland get to vote on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom and have Scotland become its own country. Here various Scottish musicians weigh in on the subject.

Scotland was its own kingdom from around 843 until 1707, when England and Scotland united. In 1997 Scotland finally got its own parliament. The major decisions about Scotland and how its people's taxes are spent, however, are still made by Westminter, the British government in London. There will be various complicated issues to solve if Scotland does become independent, such as what to do with the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons that are housed in Scotland. There has been a heated debate in Scotland over the Independence Referendum and the latest polls have been almost too close to call.

Two weeks ago we had a special theme week on our website we called Scotland Week, in which we interviewed a lot of Scottish musicians throughout the week. Two of the main questions we asked were what their general thoughts on the referendum were and how they felt Scottish independence would affect the Scottish arts and music scenes. Bellow is a compilation of all the quotes on Scottish independence from various Scottish musicians (and two comic book writers). Most were in favor of independence, but one was not, two were unsure, and two refused to truly talk about it. Soon enough we will know how it all pans out, but if the "no" vote wins out there will be a lot of disappointed Scottish musicians.

Gordon Anderson of The Aliens (and formerly The Beta Band and Lone Pigeon) 

"I feel it is important for Scotland to provide systematic arts funding for our musicians." - Gordon Anderson

 

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

Recent research has shown the empirical evidence for independence with regard to a powerful Scottish economy is overwhelming, even though, as a corollary, the market for oil is shrinking. As a band leader, I feel it is important for Scotland to provide systematic arts funding for our musicians. I believe there will always be a need for us to have a well-articulated arts policy with emphasis on human resource development. Thanks and roll on Thursday to see what happens!

 

Stevie Jackson of Belle and Sebastian

"It's a huge leap into the unknown, the whole [Scottish] independence thing on every level." - Stevie Jackson

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

After much thought, I'm still torn. A lot of my friends think it is a complete no brainer but I don't agree. Our drummer Richard [Colburn] reckons that no one knows what's going to happen come independence and that's true. Ultimately, I think it's a vote for the heart so I'll probably go for it. The amount of political engagement in the country has been heartening, I must say.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

No idea, I don't think anybody knows, even those who say they do. It's a huge leap into the unknown, the whole independence thing on every level. The arts and the music scene will go on whatever be it under the jackboot or be it in a utopia and all the places in between.

Manda Rin (Amanda MacKinnon) of Bis

"I may be one of the few people you'll hear of in a band saying this, but I'll be voting no [on Scottish Independence]." - Manda Rin

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I may be one of the few people you'll hear of in a band saying this, but I'll be voting no. There are many things at Westminster I'm unhappy with and many changes that need to be made, but I very much like being part of the United Kingdom and am proud to be Scottish at the same time. I don't believe going independent will change all the problems and it could create more. We get free universities, free prescriptions, and with the mass of people on benefits in Scotland I'm not sure how much longer that could continue. I don't believe our oil could sustain our income long after my son is 40. There's far too many unanswered and important questions for going independent and I'm not prepared to risk our home and my son's future, but also lose living in the U.K. that I enjoy being part of. I've always been the most hated and uncool member of my band, so I suppose I shouldn't be afraid to air my opinions. Everyone has different reasons for their vote and mine reflects how it would affect my family's life. I have to be fair and stress that Steven and possibly John think differently though. I want to bring my son up in the United Kingdom.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

Scotland has always been a very patriotic nation.  I'm hoping that whatever the vote is it shouldn't affect the arts and music scene. Like our football rivalry, the only issue may be the divide between people it creates. If my band can work together when we have different political beliefs I hope others can too.

Sci-fi Steven (aka Steven Clark) of Bis

"The history of Scotland's political leanings strongly suggest an independent Scotland would be more socialist minded." - Sci-fi Steven

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I think it's positive that such a debate can be held peacefully, there's no militant uprising or warring factions that have brought this referendum about, it's a civilized dialogue between peaceful nations. I am entirely for independence, having lived through enough time unable to have a real say in controlling our country's political landscape. The history of Scotland's political leanings strongly suggest an independent Scotland would be more socialist minded and by default a fairer nation for those who live in it. If Scotland was to gain independence, I have no illusions that there may be tough times ahead and I may not live to see the full benefits, but I am trying to give my children the chances I never had to help shape their own nation.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

I'd like to think a Scottish government untainted by Westminster involvement might see the export benefit of a stronger Scottish art scene. I think we're already recognized worldwide as an artistic force beyond our small population's means, but under current Westminster rule there are few opportunities for musicians and artists to be given the funding to fulfill their creative potential. I'm not saying throw free money at everyone with a guitar, but the current proliferation of public school educated new "bands" certainly implies that the Scottish music "under-class," if you like, is being strangled at birth through lack of opportunity. At least in a free Scotland a discussion about how we treat young artists could be had independent of Westminster interference.

Peter Masson of Casual Sex

"The planet that funds, plans for, and readily accepts the idea of nuclear retaliation...is the planet that only lives as long as its biggest ego allows." - Peter Masson

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

In the build up to the referendum there have been a mixture of approaches and practices adopted by many different people. I have heard a range of ridiculous lies, from the clearly invented on the spot "in an Independent Scotland, people on benefits will be kicked out of their homes" to the manipulative "anyone who votes no is an embarrassment and obviously doesn't like their country." A lot of the lies have only served the purpose of exposing the greater truth and also highlighted that the complexity of this referendum is really quite simple: should Scotland be an independent country? 

On the 18th of September 2014, the people of Scotland will only have three choices to make. 

Vote Yes.

Vote No.

Or don't vote at all.

I am, of sound mind and whole of heart, for independence. I did initially have reservations about how independence may be going against my better community minded instincts, but quite some time ago though, that idea changed. 

I was wrong.

As I took a bit more of a personally honest and open look at the world we live in, I have realized that the Independence of Scotland is the best thing for the future of all countries in the U.K. And here are some of the reasons why.

As the prehistoric boys club of Westminster is slowly dismantled through effective democratic process, there will be the acceptance that the remaining countries of the U.K. cannot continue living as a part of a system where power is held by an elite few who live in complete disregard of those they pretend to serve and who actually serve only to protect their own interests.

As Scotland then makes good on its refusal to be a nuclear missile base, watch what happens when attempts are made to find these pointless weapons new homes elsewhere on this island. 

If it's not good enough for Scotland, then I can assure you that it's not good enough for anyone else. Why should any person on planet Earth be expected to contribute their money for a weapons system that can never be used? There are no circumstances when a nuclear missile could be used. If people think that nuclear weapons are a form of defense then they best be making plans to move to the moon because the planet that funds, plans for, and readily accepts the idea of nuclear retaliation or warfare of any sort is the planet that only lives as long as its biggest ego allows. (These egos also happen to belong to psychopaths.)

Scotland is a country that is destined to be more socially just and more intelligently run than is possible under a Westminster government. An independent Scotland will surely go through some of its greatest challenges to date, since Independence will be the first of many steps and not an arrival point.

What Scotland also has on its side to be ready for this is that Scotland is more politically energized than I have ever known it to be and there is change in the air. If Scotland becomes an independent nation or if Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom, I am certain the people of Scotland will remain active and resilient as we keep a hold of the power of having our voices heard. Heaven help the next politician to try and cross the Sons and Daughters (both native and adopted) of this country.

Scotland has the power to show the rest of the United Kingdom that social justice and equality are not only an effective way of running a community, but the only way. 

Yes, we are going to have to break out on our own to do so but so be it.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

It can only be a positive thing. What artist would not want huge, positive political change as a source of inspiration? 

David Maclean of Django Django

"I'm not suggesting that creating an independent Scotland will be an easy ride.... But for me running our own country is a no brainier." - David Maclean

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I'm for independence. I was brought up in the '80s and the disdain for Thatcher's government was palpable for me even at a young age. As I grew up we all seemed to start looking to [the] Labour [party] for answers and there was a real sense of hope and change resting on New Labour's shoulders. When they were voted in many people felt that the bad old days of right wing politics were over in Scotland. But fast forward to 2014. Labour blew it in almost every way. They've left behind them a trail of destruction and bloodshed in the Middle East. And for what? The place is worse than ever. I'll never in my life vote Labour again. And so we're back with the good ol' greedy gang. Something has to change. Scotland on the whole never voted for another Conservative government and we were so sickened by the Labour lies and war mongering that I think we've been pushed into this. A lot of people are just fed up of Westminster's antics. I'm skeptical however. I'm not suggesting that creating an independent Scotland will be an easy ride. We may well end up with the same old self-serving cronies. But for me running our own country is a no brainier and a step in the right direction. P.S.: I love England, the English people, and I in particular love London, I really do. It's one of the best cities on the planet. It's where I live, pay tax, work, vote. But I'd like to think we can work together as equals. I don't see why one has to tell the other what to do. 

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

Actually it's the last thing on my mind and that's because I feel art and music will always flourish in Scotland no matter what. I'm far more focused on pulling the country out of poverty and strengthening our education system, welfare system, NHS [National Health Service], etc. 

Paul Thomson of Franz Ferdinand

"We're not even a poor country, yet 800,000 people live in poverty and parts of Glasgow have the lowest mortality rate in Europe." - Paul Thomson

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum?

I think it's great that Scottish people are actually being asked if they would like the opportunity. In an age of supposed political apathy people here are engaging with politics and showing they actually care about who governs them. 

Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I'm very much for it, a year ago I didn't see the point but having read more convincing arguments pro-independence I've swung to the yes camp. It was kinda sealed by an article I read today which posed the question: if Scotland were already independent, would it hand over its sovereignty in a union with England and Wales, handing over important decision making powers and allowing nuclear weapons to be stored there. Of course not, right? We're not even a poor country, yet 800,000 people live in poverty and parts of Glasgow have the lowest mortality rate in Europe. If things continue the way they are under the current government which was not elected by a Scottish vote, I see a very bleak future. Overall though, the debate has ignited a spark of idealism and hope, particularly among young people, who want to have a role in how their future is written, it's really exciting. 

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

I don't think it will change too much; good Scottish film, art, and music will continue to be made no matter what happens. The arts in the U.K. as a whole has already suffered under austerity cuts so I can only see it improving. 

Scott Hutchison (aka Owl John) of Frightened Rabbit

"Many other countries of Scotland's size are independent and I feel that our cultural identity is in fact stronger then many of those places." - Scott Hutchison

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I am in support of an independent Scotland, yes. I think that we have the basis for an economically strong and prosperous future, should we be allowed to govern ourselves more fully. Many other countries of Scotland's size are independent and I feel that our cultural identity is in fact stronger then many of those places. We should be able to make decisions based on the needs of the Scottish population, not those of the United Kingdom.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

I think it can only serve to propel the arts further. For such a small country, Scotland has an incredible output in visual art, theatre, and music. I feel that this output can be encouraged and thrive even more if we are in control of all our resources. 

Helen Marnie of Ladytron

"When I was living in Liverpool and then in London I always felt like a foreigner-like people thought I was some kind of novelty." - Helen Marnie

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I have been a Yes supporter from the start. I don't necessarily see it as nationalism, that's not what this is about. It's about having control over your country's affairs and not being tied to a system that frankly does not work for Scotland, and hasn't worked for a long, long time. I have faith that we are a talented enough lot to be able to go it alone. 

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

I hope that independence brings more investment for the arts, rather than cuts which are happening at present. I want us to be international in our outlook, and being a part of Europe will benefit Scotland. At the moment, it looks like the U.K. is trying to make an exit. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has always had a thriving music scene, so I don't see that changing. People are determined enough to go it alone and start creating music. If anything, independence will only inspire musicians more. I haven't met one artist/musician who is a no voter.

Comic Book Writer Mark Millar

"I'm normally very, very sure of what I believe in, and I've never been so unsure." - Mark Millar

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum?

Well, it's very tricky actually, because I'm genuinely undecided. I know Alex Salmond, who is our First Minister. I know him well personally, and I like what he does professionally. I actually think the country has been really terrifically run over the course that he's been in charge. But it is quite a different thing from separation, because to suddenly have a new currency, we have a new defense system. To completely divorce itself from England. What we've got—what we call devolution—where we have our own parliament at the moment, is we can have a holiday home almost from England. We have our own little thing where we take care of some responsibilities for ourselves, but we still have the safety net of England's money. England is obviously fantastically wealthy, especially down in London, and something like the banking crisis in 2008, England was able to weather that storm in a way that a small country like Scotland maybe would have had a harder time. So I'm in this quite tricky situation where I love the idea of Scottish people taking charge themselves, and we do our own thing, and we're a very enterprising country. You know, historically, it's insane what Scotland's contributed to the world. So I kind of love the idea of a country being run almost like a small business, as well, where the smaller something is, the more you can keep an eye on it and make sure there's no waste. But at the same time, it is a big scary world out there. There are financial storms going on constantly, and when we have the economics superpowers like the Euro, America, China, and emerging ones, as well, like Brazil, Russia, and India, do we really want to be that small? It's slightly frightening. So I don't know, it's tricky. I'm normally very, very sure of what I believe in, and I've never been so unsure, and we're only two weeks away from polling day. At the moment, I still don't know. My heart says one thing; my head says another thing. I don't know. I guess we'll see what wins.

Comic Book Writer Grant Morrison

"There's a lot of heated madness and a lot of indecision, and I don't like anything that divides the country." - Grant Morrison

Thursday of this week is voting day for the Scottish independence referendum. Whatever the outcome, it will be a huge and an incredibly historic day for Scotland. What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence? 

I just refuse to have any thoughts, because all thoughts right now—the situation's quite incendiary in Scotland, and it's not even worth talking about. There's a lot of heated madness and a lot of indecision, and I don't like anything that divides the country. I just don't like talking about it. It's too much of an incendiary situation here in Scotland. I have different takes on both sides, and I'm not impressed by either of them.

Katrina Mitchell of The Pastels

"We're voting yes to independence because Scotland is confident and quick-witted and wise enough to determine its own future." - Katrina Mitchell

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why? 

It feels like a really great, exciting moment in Scotland's journey just now. We're voting yes to independence because Scotland is confident and quick-witted and wise enough to determine its own future. But as things stand, we're not in control of our future. We have a socialist history that we're proud of, but the rest of the U.K. is moving steadily towards the right in terms of politics. That divergence began a while ago and the fork is widening. At the U.K. ballot box our vote size is too small to affect the overall outcome, so very often Scotland finds itself controlled by a government that our neighbors voted for but that we didn't. It makes sense to get rid of this situation when we have the chance. Our fantastic national health service is at serious risk if we stay in the U.K., and there are loads of other good reasons to vote yes. If our country is to have an equitable, bright, socialist future, its best chance is to become independent in September.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

People are energized by the independence question in a way I don't remember feeling before. Most artists and musicians that we know will be voting yes, and there's a feeling of being open to the moment, poised on a cusp. Of course Twitter has chucked up some funny, unexpected conversations and spontaneous creations. If we do get independence I expect exhilaration and sparky purpose and in time, momentous art!

James Graham of The Twilight Sad 

"The [Scottish Independence] debate has got very ugly over the past few months and I've seen good friends fall out over it." - James Graham

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

Politics was always a very private thing in my household when I was growing up and that's something that I've taken on board as I've got older. So I've decided to stay out of the independence debate, I just feel that I am a singer in a band and I wouldn't want to use any platform I have to try and influence anyone else's decision. As it is such an important decision for our country, I feel there are people who are a lot more knowledgeable about the subject than I am and they are who people should actually listen to. I have a lot of friends that are in bands that are very vocal about Independence and I respect and admire their views and passion about the subject. I love my country and I love being Scottish, it's a major part of who I am. The debate has got very ugly over the past few months and I've seen good friends fall out over it; I just want to get it over with at this point to be honest. A good friend said something that really hit home with me, he said, "No matter what the outcome of the referendum is in September be it a 'Yes' or a 'No' vote, we need to accept the decision move forward together and do the everything we can to make Scotland the best it can be." 

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

Scottish musicians have to travel down to London for a meeting at the U.S. embassy to get their U.S. visa so they can tour North America. Getting a visa is a very lengthy and expensive process, especially for a band like ourselves. It means the five of us have to travel to London and get accommodation then travel back for what might be a two hour meeting which usually starts at 8 a.m. If we did get independence it would be nice to have a U.S. Embassy in Scotland so we didn't have to travel down south. The Scottish Arts Council have been great to us over the years and have helped us out on numerous occasions, I'd like to think they'd be able to continue their good work and possibly get more help to help out up and coming bands release/promote their music. There's a great community spirit within the Scottish music scene and that will continue no matter what happens.

Frances McKee of The Vaselines

"There are a lot of creative people in Scotland ready for the change a yes vote will bring." - Frances McKee

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I think it has been a long time coming. It is time. I am for independence. I have lots of reasons for this but mainly Scotland should be able to stand on its own two feet, which means taking responsibility for its own future without dumping the blame on anyone else. 

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

Change will create positive and negative outcomes. How this will affect the arts to be honest I have no way of knowing. What I do know however is that there are a lot of creative people in Scotland ready for the change a yes vote will bring.

James Yorkston

"The worst thing about this debate has been how personal and snidey it has become." - James Yorkston

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why? 

Looking around the world, Scotland may seem pretty lucky country right now—no major wars, no major poverty. So it perhaps seems odd to seek change. But for me, I feel we could be doing a little better, mainly in that we could be looking after our own affairs. I don't trust Westminster, I don't trust any of the major political parties entrenched there. One only has to see how the NHS [National Health Service] is slowly being dissolved by such self-serving politicians who are bankrolled by private healthcare firms to feel a little queasy. I feel, I hope, that an independent Scotland would be better at keeping our politicians in check—it's a smaller country, less people. Easier to keep our eye on things.

I'm also not a huge believer in borders and sometimes people who are against Scottish independence use this as a reason—independence would create one more border—but I don't see it like that. For me a border between Scotland and Europe would be broken down if we didn't have to go through the antiquated United Kingdom. Granted, Scotland wouldn't have such a loud voice in Europe as the U.K. does now, but is that voice doing the U.K. any good? It seems a great deal of the people of Southern England want out of Europe anyway and are pushing for a U.K. referendum of their own within the next parliament on that matter. What would we become, if that occurred? If we stayed in the U.K. and the U.K. left Europe? That for me is just as valid an unanswered question as to what will happen to Scotland post-independence.

The way those three [main political] parties have united to stand firm with this "No Currency Union" nonsense is regrettable too. It's just been a major distraction from a whole heap of other issues. It's been a sticking point that they've refused to drop despite the answer being clear enough if they'd only be brave enough to act logically. This behavior—this attempt at scoring minor political points when there are other things to discuss—just makes me despair and distrust them even further.

However, the worst thing about this debate has been how personal and snidey it has become. Both sides—pro and anti independence—have some decidedly unpleasant people in their ranks. I've heard some absolute tripe from some No campaigners—stoking a fear of a protestant uprising against the Catholic minority being the most insulting and absurd—that I've sometimes found it hard to take their valid points seriously. But the Yes campaign can be just as vicious and stomach turning. There's been too many a comment I've read that's made me think "Am I really on your side?" 

Overall though, as I said—we're lucky. We live in a mostly peaceful, civilized society. The debate has become heated, but that's to be expected. I'm pretty sure that come independence we can all adapt in a peaceful, civilized fashion. Simply put, Scotland is a country and can be trusted to look after itself like (almost) every other country.



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