Academics respond to Devine’s call for Scottish independence

29 August 2014 | by Brian Morton , Liz Dodd

Leading academics have backed Professor Sir Tom Devine’s call for a “Yes” vote in the upcoming Scottish referendum.

Professor Devine, a leading Catholic historian, told The Tablet this week he had changed his mind partly because of the “the patronising attitude of Westminster politicians”.

“It seems to me now that the clear choice is between independence and dependency. The Union [of 1707] was a pragmatic measure, and the decision Scotland takes on 18 September should also be a pragmatic one,” he added.

Dauvit Broun, Professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow and a Catholic, said that the campaign had changed the nature of politics, giving people “for the first time” the chance to choose between alternative destinies.

Adding that he would vote “Yes” to independence on 18 September because the Better Together campaign failed to convince him that United Kingdom society was better, Professor Broun said: “The campaign has made me realise that the UK exists only for expediency. It has dawned on me that I’ll not only be voting for Scottish independence, but for a new Britain born of the awareness of what the UK has become.”

Raymond MacDonald, a musician and Professor of Music Psychology and Improvisation at the University of Edinburgh, said that the referendum had reinvigorated a “moribund” political landscape in Scotland and would have profound implications for the arts, national orchestras and theatre companies.

“There is a sense that the cultural community is broadly supportive of a ‘Yes’ vote,” said Professor MacDonald. “But a ‘Yes’ vote by itself means little. Will this enthusiasm for political debate sustain and nourish a much needed new political class in Scotland? Who knows? What is obvious is that everyone understands that the vote matters and that no matter what the outcome, nothing will be the same again.”

Catholics are the most pro-independence Christian group in Scotland, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. In 2013, 37 per cent of Catholics polled said that Scotland should be an independent country, compared to 22 per cent of members of the Church of Scotland and 13 per cent of “other” Christians. While 41 per cent of Catholics said they would vote “no” in the referendum, this was 20 per cent lower than other Christian groups. 

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