Belfast Telegraph

Scotland votes: Forget Izzard, David Bowie and Beckham - Scots shouldn't look to the stars for a decision on its future

By Lindy McDowell

And so Scotland finally faces its day of destiny as its people heads to the polls for a decision that will shape their history for generations to come. But who to go with? That is the big question. Eddie Izzard or Vivienne Westwood?

It was David Bowie who first set the ball rolling on the Scottish referendum celebrity endorsement thing after he sent a message to a music awards ceremony: "Stay with us, Scotland."

At the time it seemed a kindly little plea. It opened the floodgates.

After the Spiders From Mars had rowed in on the side of the No vote it was open shoot for starmen and women everywhere.

More than 200 of them signed an open letter appealing for Scottish voters to stay in the Union.

Some, you could concede, had a genuine interest.

Sir Paul McCartney. I never particularly warmed to the man. But the Mull of Kintyre and all that.

You could see why Sir Paul might feel he had a stake and the right to express a view.

On the other hand Bruce Forsyth asking voters to play their cards right was just asking for it. Ditto Bob Geldof. He may be a living saint but he's not Scotland's.

Also weighing into the debate has been Dame Vivienne Westwood. I love her clothes. No one is better at a bit of ruching. But I'm not sure that even Viv's famous penchant for tartan qualifies her to advise on matters constitutional. There is nothing this woman doesn't know about the support a corseted bodice can provide. On how best to bolster fiscal support, should they pull the plug on EU inclusion, she may find more of a challenge.

Viv explains she's pro-Scottish independence because she "hates England". Sympathetic though we must be to the traditional self-loathing of the English luvvie, this doesn't necessarily equate with expertise in national restructuring.

Of course, the whole celebrity endorsement thing isn't exactly new. Lily Langtry once urged consumers to use Pears Soap. But we've come a long way from starlets advising on complexion care or even promoting bingo websites to thespians, fashionistas and Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, attempting to sway democratic decision.

I voted yes for our own Agreement. But one of the (less serious) things that did make me consider voting the other way was Richard Branson.

Now, I have nothing against Rich, as David Tennant calls him in the TV ad (Scottish himself, Tennant has commendably refrained from advising on the vote).

If you are up for a bit of inter-galactic flight I'm sure there would be no safer hands on the control panel than Sir Rich's. He is a visionary, and successful. But that doesn't make him an expert on our hundreds of years of tortuous history. It doesn't even make him all that interested.

How many times has he been here before or since that day he was trolleyed out to advise on where we should put our Xs?

There were a few other "stars" offering us their wisdom, I recall. And, of course, Bono showing us John Hume and David Trimble's oxters.

But even that has been eclipsed by the independence referendum where the Scots have been under relentless celebrity bombardment.

Scottish luminaries like Sean Connery and Susan Boyle at least have ties to the place and emotional investment in the vote.

But the likes of Al Murray and Viv were only ever going to get people's backs up. How arrogant and patronising these luvvies are and how ludicrous they look when they stick their self-important noses into politics.

If there is one united message from the Scottish campaign, it's that such input is only ever likely to rile voters. It may even tempt them to vote the other way.

Will the celebs learn from this? Doubtful. Never underestimate the immodesty of the celebrity endorser. Nor indeed the desperation and delusion of those in politics who felt it would be a good idea to involve them in the first place.

Wherever Scotland's destiny lies, we can safely say, it's not with the stars.

Who'd keep mum on killer's identity?

I think I'd know my sons anywhere. If one of them was walking down a street, even at a distance, I'm pretty sure I'd recognise him. I'd certainly recognise him if he was on the TV news, even if masked, holding a bloody knife in one hand and a severed head in the other and reading a prepared statement on jihad.

Which is why I suspect the security forces already know the identities of all those Jihadi Johns and Janes in the various horror videos produced by Isis.

Despite the masks, family, friends and neighbours will surely have recognised them by now and will have come forward surely to provide information about them. Surely?

Take offence? Yep, we'll drink to that

Dubious research findings of the week ... according to a new study, in Canada people were found to drink less if they felt offended.

The research team has obviously never been to Northern Ireland, where we have some considerable expertise in both drinking and taking offence. Often simultaneously.

In fairness, their research appears to have been centred on intake of chocolate milk (which some of us find offensive in itself) and water.

Still. We are such world leaders at taking offence here ... you'd think if there really was any kind of liquid link, we would have been the first to notice.

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