Celebrities Ditched from Crusade to Rescue Union

Daily Mail (London), June 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

Celebrities Ditched from Crusade to Rescue Union


Byline: Michael Blackley Scottish Political Reporter

BIG-NAME celebrities are to take a back seat in the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK after the faltering attempts of the star names who were drafted in by the SNP to boost its break-up drive.

The Better Together campaign had been expected to call on high-profile Unionist names, such as Billy Connolly, former Dr Who David Tennant, and Travis frontman Fran Healy.

But insiders have now revealed that celebrities have been ditched in favour of 'real people' who will front the attempt to save the 305-year-old Union.

Last month's launch event for the SNP's 'Yes Scotland' campaign featured actor Alan Cumming, the former Goldeneye actor, and Braveheart star Brian Cox.

Sir Sean Connery was among the first names to sign its 'declaration of independence'.

But the use of celebrities backfired when opponents questioned why celebrities who are not even based in Scotland are encouraging Scottish taxpayers to tear their country out of the UK.

Mr Cumming suffered humiliation on BBC's Question Time programme as his stumbling attempts at promoting independence were savaged by former Tory Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth.

The troubles within the independence campaign are among the main reasons for celebrities now taking a back seat in the Better Together campaign, which will be launched next Monday.

One senior politician involved in the campaign said: 'It's not really going to be about celebrities, it's about real people.

'You saw on Question Time the difficulties that you can have with using celebrities, because Lord Forsyth is an experienced politician and Alan Cumming couldn't match that.' During the Question Time show, filmed in Inverness, Mr Cumming appeared unable to understand a comment by Lord Forsyth, who then responded: 'Well that's perhaps because you live in America.' Lord Forsyth went on: 'We've got Alan, who will do anything to get Scotland independent except live here.' During the show Mr Cumming also made the claim that Scots could still be 'British' if voters back separation.

Lord Forsyth later said he apologised for his comment to Mr Cumming because the actor had looked 'very hurt'.

A senior source within the Better Together campaign said: 'It's also about the nature of the campaign. This is not an election campaign, it is a referendum campaign and every vote will count.

'People are not choosing a political party to make decisions for them. The decision is their own and for that reason this is not about celebrities and the great and the good, it is about ordinary people.

'Celebrities do have their own issues and the problem the Yes campaign had was not the use of celebrities, it was that the celebrities they chose did not live in the UK.' The cross-party campaign to save the Union will be launched at Edinburgh Napier University on Monday under the tagline A Stronger Scotland, A United Kingdom. Business people were conspicuous by their absence at the Yes Scotland launch last month, which resembled a 1970s Left-wing rally. But they are expected to play a big part of the pro-Union drive. …

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