JK Rowling, Britain’s best-selling author and creator of teenage wizard Harry Potter, has donated £1-million to the campaign against Scottish independence, saying on Wednesday that she believed Scotland was better off staying in the United Kingdom.
Rowling lives in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, where she wrote the first of the Potter series in a local cafe, and will be among about four million Scottish residents to decide on September 18 whether or not to end the 307-year tie to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Rowling said she was concerned about the economic impact of going it alone because of Scotland’s oil and gas reserves being depleted and an ageing population. She is the latest in a string of celebrities to wade into the increasingly heated debate.
“The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities – any change brings opportunities – it also carries serious risks,” she wrote on her website.
Nationalist Death Eaters
Rowling said she knew her stance might put her in the firing line of a fringe of aggressive nationalists whom she compared to Death Eaters, followers of Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.
“While a few of our fiercer nationalists might like to drive me forcibly over the border after reading this, I’d prefer to stay and contribute to a country that has given me more than I can easily express,” she wrote.
“I just hope with all my heart that we never have cause to look back and feel that we made a historically bad mistake.”
A spokesperson for the Better Together campaign confirmed that Rowling had donated £1-million to the fight to keep Scotland in the UK. It is the biggest donation yet to the pro-union campaign that is leading in opinion polls.
The largest donation to the team fighting for independence, Yes Scotland, has come from Britain’s biggest lottery winners, Scottish couple Colin and Chris Weir, who have given about £2.5-million from their 2011 winnings of £161-million.
Rowling, who was born in England but has lived in Scotland for 21 years, first went public with her opposition to Scottish independence in 2012, but her statement on Wednesday clearly outlined her thinking.
She said she believed Scotland was more powerful in global markets as part of the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland and was concerned about Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK if it broke away.
“If we leave … there will be no going back. This separation will not be quick and clean: it will take microsurgery to disentangle three centuries of close interdependence, after which we will have to deal with three bitter neighbours,” she wrote.
Other celebrities that have opposed independence publicly include singer David Bowie, who appealed to Scotland to stay with the UK at an awards ceremony in February, and Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, who said it was a time to stay together.
Big Scottish names backing independence include actor Sean Connery, a long-term nationalist who said independence was too good an opportunity to miss.
Scottish tennis player Andy Murray has refused to take sides in the debate, although he admitted this week that he did not like Scottish leader Alex Salmond holding up Scotland’s blue and white flag, the Saltire, behind Prime Minister David Cameron when he won Wimbledon last year.
Opinion polls suggest Scots are reluctant to break away from the UK, although support for independence has risen this year.
A TNS poll on Wednesday showed that 42% of voters opposed independence, 30% were in favour and 28% remained undecided. The numbers were unchanged from a month earlier. – Reuters
Famous Scots divided over independence
A rising number of famous Scots have gone public with their views on whether or not Scotland should cut its 307-year tie with England and leave the United Kingdom in favour of independence.
For Scottish independence:
Actor Sean Connery: “As a Scot and as someone with a lifelong love for both Scotland and the arts, I believe the opportunity of independence is too good to miss.” – New Statesman interview, March 2014
Author Irvine Welsh: “I’m totally for independence, totally. I think everyone is, even the unionists. It’s the process which is being argued about, not the principle.” – Daily Record, April 2012
Film director Ken Loach: “If I had the chance to be independent from the Tory-Liberal-New Labour bunch, I’d jump at it … I think: go for it. Other colonised countries have asserted their independence.” – The Herald, May 2012
Actor Brian Cox: “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 … trying to get back to egalitarian principles, which is so present in the Scottish character.” – New York e-magazine Boo York City, March 2014
Actor Alan Cumming: “The evidence is clear – in the past 15 years we have become stronger economically, socially, culturally and globally. The world is waiting for us and I know Scotland is ready.” – Yes Scotland launch, May 2012
The Proclaimers, twins Charlie and Craig Reid: “For me and Charlie it’s not about patriotism or nationalism. I’m not into flag-waving and it’s not about identity. It’s about where the power lies and who wields it, and we believe independence would give a more equitable society.” – Scotsman, July 2013
Against Scottish independence:
Author JK Rowling: “The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities – any change brings opportunities – it also carries serious risks.” – Personal website, June 11
Comedian Billy Connolly: “I don’t believe in having more layers of government that ordinary people will have to pay for. I think it’s time for people to get together, not split apart.” – Radio Times, April 2014
Musician Rod Stewart: “I’d hate to see the union broken after all these years – and I don’t think it will happen.” – Radio Times, July 2013
Cyclist Chris Hoy: “I’ve said numerous times how proud I am to be Scottish and how proud I have been to compete for Britain too. I don’t think these two things necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.” – BBC, May 2013
Actor Ewan McGregor: “I’m a Scotsman and I love Scotland with all my heart. But I also like the idea of Great Britain, and I don’t know that it wouldn’t be a terrible shame to break it all up.” – Daily Mail, March 2012
Singer Susan Boyle: “I am a proud, patriotic Scot, passionate about my heritage and my country. But I am not a nationalist.” – The Sun, July 2013
Actress Emma Thompson: “Why insist on building a new border between human beings in an ever-shrinking world where we are still struggling to live alongside each other?” – Spanish television, August 2012
Football manager Alex Ferguson: “If ever there was a time to be wary of Scotland pulling out of the UK, it is now. It would be a distraction from what really matters – the economy, jobs, schools and hospitals.” – Daily Record, May 2011