EXCLUSIVE: USA must back Scottish independence, says Cox

on March 14 | in Culture | by | with 5 Comments

Emmy-winning actor Brian Cox has called on America to back Scottish independence.

The referendum vote is held in Scotland on September 18, and the Scots star – who lives in New York – said: “I think Americans ought be pro-independence. You just need to say to them ‘Why did your forebears go to the States? They went for a better life. The Scottish diaspora, the Irish diaspora – any diaspora – they all went to America to escape something; pogroms, clearances, famine.

“These people wanted to have equality. And Scots haven’t had that – we’ve grown up with a sense of inferiority so that when we go to America we immediately discuss how positive everyone is. We love it, but we think ‘oh this isn’t right, where does our forelock tugging come in?’

HOMECOMING...Cox looks out over his home town of Dundee in Scotland

HOMECOMING…Cox looks out over his home town of Dundee in Scotland

“We’re so feudal and so battered to buggery in our feudal thinking that ‘we are not worthy’ and ‘let’s not stick our head above the parapet’ – because we’ve been beaten down.

“And that’s what’s made me someone who believes in Scottish independence – because the whole thing should be under question. Feudalism always counters democracy – as soon as you have a feudal mentality, democracy is out the window.

“So we want to go back and say ‘this our land, this is in our blood’ – we’re asking for our independence – and I feel America should support us in that struggle.

Cox – whose many credits include Braveheart, Manhunter and Rob Roy – feels that the British government is trying to obfuscate the independence issue by threatening to take away the pound if Scotland becomes independent.

He says: “This whole argument has nothing to do with the pound. It’s not about any of these things they say are important; it’s about the Scottish people trying to join up the dots back to the Treaty of Arbroath, and trying to get back to egalitarian principles, which is so present in the Scottish character.

NEW YORKER...Cox now lives in Brooklyn

NEW YORKER…Cox now lives in Brooklyn .  Pic by Lloyd Bishop

“Another problem England has is that the parliament is in London and it shouldn’t be. London is London – it’s a separate principality, which has nothing to do with England. Absolutely nothing. London is a different state, and it always has been. It’s like Monaco…or Lichtenstein.

“The playwright David Hare was talking in the press about how he was happy for Scotland to vote ‘Yes’ because he thought that would finally shed light on what was lacking in the democracy of England, and I think he’s hit the proverbial very firmly on the head.

“The democratic position of the so-called United Kingdom over the last 50 years has suffered, like the very shores of the islands themselves, from a process of systematic erosion.”

There are certainly plenty of US citizens who may feel inclined to take up Cox’s call to arms. The 2009 US Community Census Survey lists 27.5million Americans as claiming Scottish ancestry either alone, or in combination with another nationality.

Historians believe that the Scottish Enlightenment in the 1700s was, in part, responsible for stirring the intellectual debate that led to the American Revolution.  And 19 of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence came from Scotland or had ancestors there.

Even that most American of icons, Uncle Sam, was based on businessman Samuel Wilson, whose parents sailed to America from Greenock, on the west coast of Scotland.

STAR...Cox is currently in The Weir at Wyndham's Theatre in London   Pic by Helen Warner

STAR…Cox starring in The Weir at Wyndham’s Theatre in London earlier this year                 Pic by Helen Warner

Cox – who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bradford International Film Festival in April – explains: “The United States appeals to Scots. Though it certainly has its problems with its moneyed class, at grassroots it’s egalitarian and Americans have that principle written in to their constitution.

“I think Scotland’s own independence is a wonderful opportunity to get back to something that has been lost for centuries and it would be marvellous if America could support our bid for freedom.”

A spokesperson for First Minister Alex Salmond: “We’re delighted that such a distinguished and high-profile actor as Brian Cox is highlighting the campaign for Scottish independence stateside.

“Although he won’t have a vote – as the decision is quite rightly a matter for the people who choose to live and work in Scotland – Brian is a powerful voice and makes a welcome contribution to the debate.

“The world is watching Scotland as we approach the historic referendum, and vocal campaigners like Brian are big factor in the steady increase in support for a Yes vote that we have seen over the last few months. Most people would agree that independence has worked out well for the US, so Brian’s appeal will definitely be well-received.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the Better Together campaign declined to comment.


*For more photographs by Lloyd Bishop, please visit http://www.lloydbishop.com


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5 Responses

  1. Mr. Affie MacPharlain Poirier says:

    I do back the independence for Scotland .. For my family and me family, Scotland
    has always been an independent country

    • Willam MacFarlane says:

      How is a vote “quite rightly a matter for the people who choose to live and work in Scotland”? I and many of my expat chums would vote Yes if we got the chance. I do not seek to interfere in the way the old country and its various cities and towns are run but in a matter of such importance as an independence referendum I do think all Scots should be able to vote. It’s nothing to do with it being “quite rightly” a matter for Scots-based residents – more a matter of how much money and organisation it would take to allow it. And speaking of America, Mr Cox, one point you didn’t make was that US expats, many of whom, too, are the offspring of the latter, are able to post a vote in Congressional, Senate and Presidential elections, as a few of my vaguely American friends in fact do.

  2. dennis mclaughlin says:

    We here in Scotland welcome any support from our American friends across the Atlantic.
    We are in the process of having a National Referendum which will ask people who live and work in Scotland if they agree that Scotland should be an Independent country or not.
    The YES campaign is a wide umbrella grouping of supporters of an Independent Scotland from all sections of Scottish Society,
    With 6 months to go to the vote on 18th September support is gathering pace in support of a positive case for Scotland’s Independence!.
    Brian Cox and others from this wonderful country of ours would like your moral support for this most important decision in Scotland’s history.
    Dennis from Glasgow
    Bonny Scotland

    • jjohnson says:

      As an American of primarily English stock, along with Irish, Welsh, & Scots, heritage (my family lines have been in Virginia and North Carolina since they were first settled), I support an independent Scotland. I come from an area known as little Scotland where some of the Highlanders settled, including Flora McDonald, whose husband and allied clans fought for the British. Some of the Highlanders fought for the British against the Americans but others fought for the Americans against the British in the American Revolutionary War. I doubt the Americans could have beaten without the assistance of the Scots settlers, including the Scots-Irish. Actually, a lot of the American character of individuality comes from the Scots, at least in the American South. We have much to be grateful for when the Scots came to the 13 colonies. They were an integral part of our fight against the British and the establishment of the United States.

      The Scots have been fighting for their independence for centuries. They never accepted being part of the UK really. Let them make the decision as to their country’s future. They never agreed to be made part of the UK. Should they choose to go independent, I have no doubt they will find their way to the Scotland they desire.

      I admire the Scots … they are willing to work hard and fight for what they want.

      JJohnson Fayetteville NC

  3. robin melville says:

    Well I’m one of those Scots who came to live in the USA, and I’m wholeheartedly in favour of the proviso that only those who actually live in Scotland should be the ones who decide whether Scotland should remain part of the UK or else leave it. No matter how emotionally attached someone may be to a real or imagined Scotland, if not living there they’d never have to face the consequences of their vote. As to Americans living abroad who vote in state and federal elections in the US, as I understand it, (a) they have to qualify for an absentee ballot, they don’t get it just because of some tenuous connection with the US, and (b) there is such a thing as an absentee ballot for certain British who have gone to reside abroad. (I may be mistaken, but I think this was instituted by Thatcher’s government in the expectation that the Tories would get most of those absentee votes.) Finally, I’d urge those advocating that Americans take a close interest in Scottish political outcomes that they contemplate that Washington is much more distant from Scotland than London but that it regards itself has having global interests and a right to intervene everywhere in pursuit of those interests. Be careful what you wish for. rm

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