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Independence: Historian Sir Tom Devine voting Yes

Sir Tom Devine (left) with First Minister Alex Salmond at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: PA

Sir Tom Devine (left) with First Minister Alex Salmond at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: PA

LEADING Scottish historian Sir Tom Devine has revealed he will be voting Yes in the independence referendum.

The author of dozens of publications on Scottish history, Prof Devine is stepping down from his role as director of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Edinburgh this summer.

He has been a regular contributor to the referendum debate, most recently during a public conversation with former prime minister Gordon Brown to mark his retirement, when he warned unionist politicians to keep their promises of more devolution if Scotland votes No.

On that occasion in June he refused to reveal his constitutional preference but has now said he will vote Yes in an interview with the Observer

The 69-year-old said he was a No voter at the outset of the campaign and favoured a “devo-max” arrangement with further powers devolved to Holyrood.

“This has been quite a long journey for me and I’ve only come to a Yes conclusion over the last fortnight,” he said.

“The Scottish parliament has demonstrated competent government and it represents a Scottish people who are wedded to a social democratic agenda and the kind of political values which sustained and were embedded in the welfare state of the late 1940s and 1950s.

“It is the Scots who have succeeded most in preserving the British idea of fairness and compassion in terms of state support and intervention. Ironically, it is England, since the 1980s, which has embarked on a separate journey.”

Prof Devine received a knighthood in the most recent honours list for “services to the study of Scottish history”.

He told the Observer: “The union of England and Scotland was not a marriage based on love. It was a marriage of convenience. It was pragmatic.

“From the 1750s down to the 1980s there was stability in the relationship. Now, all the primary foundations of that stability have gone or been massively diluted.”

Blair Jenkins, chief executive of the Yes Scotland campaign, was delighted to welcome the support.

He said: “Sir Tom Devine is Scotland’s best known historian and his research into our country’s past is second to none.

“He offers great insight into Scotland’s re-emergence as a nation and we’re delighted that he shares Yes Scotland’s view for the present and future potential of Scotland as an independent nation.”

 

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