JK Rowling Dramatically Steps Back Into the Scottish Independence Debate

17:03Ciaran McCormick

In June, JK Rowling donated £1 million to the No campaign fighting to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom. It was met by appreciation from No supporters and an almighty backlash from many on the Yes team. On Twitter, she has offered more snapshots of her position in this emotional debate.

The reasons she gave when she gave the donation had a semblance of rationality. It considered the Scottish economy, oil reserves and the impact of independence on their world leading medical research. I have complete respect for Rowling and her right to speak on these issues. She has lived in the country for 21 years and is Scottish in residence, marriage and lineage. Her rags to riches story gives her an authority on matters of social justice that belongs to precious few of such a public status.


However, she has played on the narrative of uncertainty that has given the No campaign a stubborn and persistent majority of support. It portrays independence as an uncertain state and offers the UK as a secure and comfortingly familiar crutch to fall back on in times of hardship, enjoying the benefits of devolution in times of calm. It was exactly the same in the last major referendum on electoral reform where AV was beaten down because of an effective campaign of fear mongering and confusion that disrespected the electorate.


This fear marketing ignores the uncertainty faced by Scotland even if it stays in the union. People have raised fears over how Scotland would accede to the European Union and how Scottish nationalism could affect their voice in the world. This ignores the wave of British nationalism that has fanned the flames of UKIP and threatens to unleash an in-out referendum on the EU.

Her words today exploit this emotional fear. 'People before flags' unfairly ignores the patriotism and emotional appeals that both sides are using . People care about the symbols of their national identity and it is foolish to try and sweep them under the carpet and try to separate them from objective rational discussion about contested economic projections.


Asking for answers and reason rather than slogans and ranting is fair enough but a given and does nothing to advance the debate. Twitter trolls and abusers have no entitlement to a say at this critical juncture. She said herself that 'I believe that intelligent, thoughtful people predominate' in the Scottish independence debate. People that believe Scotland would be better off away from the social injustices of the Westminster coalition should not be accused of causing enmity. She does have a fair point though when her allegiance to Scotland was criticised by nationalists because of her donation. She believes that Devo Max would be the best solution for her country.

Her tweets teeter on the edge of the rationality and reason she is trying to promote. However, she has my infinite respect for being brave enough to wade into this very public debate. More people should be passionate enough about major political issues  that they suffer from 'the curse of the passionate tweeter'.

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