Top Scots photographer set for independence debate

Scottish photographer Albert Watson, photographed in 1998. Picture: TSPL
Scottish photographer Albert Watson, photographed in 1998. Picture: TSPL
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ALBERT Watson, the Scot who went on to become one of the world’s top celebrity photographers, is to argue in favour of independence tonight at a major Tartan Week debate in New York which will be broadcast all over the world.

Penicuik-born Watson - who is blind in one eye - made his name over the course of 40 years creating iconic images of Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Alfred Hitchcock and David Bowie.

Watson, who has lived in the United States for more than 40 years, has agreed to take part in a debate before a 100-strong audience at the Lower Eastside Club, in Manhattan.

Also due to appear in support of separation is Scottish actor, Pollyanna McIntosh. Fellow actor Louise Linton and former UK government minister Brian Wilson, chairman of the Harris Tweed Hebrides company, will be arguing in favour of the status quo.

The 90-minute debate will be live-streamed from New York via the Scottish social networking site KILTR. The site staged a similar event from Glasgow last year, with artist Alasdair Gray and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite among the panelists.

Guide to panellists

Watson, who lives in New York, was born in 1942, brought up in Edinburgh and studied graphic design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and film and television at the Royal College of Art in London. His images are said to have appeared on more than 100 covers of Vogue magazine.

Other high-profile Scots to back the independence cause while living in New York, which hosts the bulk of the annual Tartan Week festivities in the US, include actors Alan Cumming and Brian Cox.

Linton, who was born in Edinburgh and educated at Tony Blair’s former school Fettes College, has appeared on screen with Christopher Walken, Charlie Sheen, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep.

Dunbartonshire-born McIntosh, a former model, was in Filth with James McAvoy last year and also appeared in the BBC Scotland comedy series Bob Servant Independent, along with Dundee-born Cox.

McIntosh said: “I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of KILTR’s New York debate which I hope will be lively.

“I’m a supporter of Scottish independence but for the audience, whether yes, no or undecided voters, I hope events like this continue to bring Scots together, expanding their thoughts about and hopes for their country’s future. I expect I’ll learn a lot from the event myself.”

Linton, who will be arguing against independence, said: “I’m honoured to be sharing the debating stage with these other esteemed Scots, who are working internationally and engaging in democratic free speech.”

A spokeswoman for KILTR said the event, which will be chaired by former Bank of America trader-turned-comedian Raj Mahal, will broadcast live online from 8.30pm GMT.

Brian Hughes, co-founder of KILTR, said: “By bringing such a topical issue to the week of Scottish celebrations, outwith the official programmes, reflects our commitment to bringing KILTR to the international stage and providing an alternative voice.

“What’s more, to my knowledge, KILTR is delivering the first ever international referendum debate.”