Independence: write or wrong?

Posted on 19/07/2014 by


referendum flagsTwo months from referendum day, two prominent Scottish writers have set out a personal case for Yes and No – and Allan Massie and William McIlvanney are to discuss their differing perspectives on independence at a special event marking 50 days until referendum day.

Two new pamphlets by leading Scottish writers inspired by the 2014 independence referendum were published yesterday, two months to the day until Scottish voters go to the polls to determine Scotland’s future. The publications are the latest in an ongoing programme of Saltire Series Pamphlets, commissioned by non-political independent charity the Saltire Society.

One pamphlet, entitled ‘Nevertheless’, makes the case for a No vote in the September poll and is the handiwork of prominent journalist and writer Allan Massie. The other pamphlet, ‘Dreaming Scotland’, authored by the novelist and poet William McIlvanney, sets out his own reasons for voting Yes.

The two writers will be in conversation with one another at a special event to be hosted at the Central Hall in Edinburgh at 7.30pm on Wednesday 30 July and chaired by Robyn Marsack of the Scottish Poetry Library, marking exactly 50 days until the historic vote takes place.

Massie has written almost 30 books, including 20 novels and won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year award for his 1989 novel A Question of Loyalties about Vichy France.

Arguing the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, Allan Massie’s Pamphlet concludes:

“It is, for me, a matter of self-confidence. If you feel the lack of that, you will vote for independence. If you feel confident of Scotland’s ability to remain Scottish and prosper in the Union, you will agree that we are indeed Better Together and vote “no”. The Unionist says, I am Scottish. Nevertheless I am also British, and value the Union with England, “our sister and ally”, as [Sir Walter] Scott called her.”

William McIlvanney is also a past winner of the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year award for his 1996 novel The Kiln and has been previously described by none other than Allan Massie as ‘the finest Scottish novelist of our time’.

Setting out his reasons for voting in favour of independence, McIlvanney writes:

“Politically, Scotland’s like a living entity which has been cryogenically frozen and stored within the UK for over 300 years. Isn’t it time to come out of history’s deep-freeze and explore for ourselves who we really are? Whatever that reality turns out to be, let’s confront it. It’s time to grow up and take full responsibility for ourselves. A yes vote would do that.”

Saltire Society Executive Director Jim Tough said:

“Much of the political debate around the referendum has rightly been focused on practical questions and the economic case for and against. We wanted to provide an opportunity for some more philosophical thought to be given to the question. Hence we asked two of Scotland’s contemporary writers, each bringing an alternate perspective, to contribute these thoughtfully argued pieces.

“We wanted personal reflections rather than polemics. I think they dig that bit more deeply into what motivates people to vote one way or the other at a more instinctive level. Both pamphlets also offer some fascinating insights into the way history has shaped the Scotland we live in today – and who we are as modern Scots.”

Tickets for the ‘McIlvanney and Massie in Conversation’ event as well as both limited edition Pamphlets (‘Nevertheless’ by Allan Massie and ‘Dreaming Scotland’ by William McIlvanney) can be purchased from the Saltire Society offices or through the Saltire Society website: