Indyref2: Which public figures have changed sides in debate?

The starting gun might not yet have been fired on a second referendum on Scottish independence, but both sides are refusing to keep their powder dry.

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin

Alex Salmond proved he can still set the news agenda (and give his successor Nicola Sturgeon a headache) when he told anyone who would listen last week that a new poll would happen next year.

2014’s referendum saw a whole host of celebrities, sports-people, and global business leaders coming down on one side of the fence or another.

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With a debate currently raging both in the UK and America over whether celebrities should engage with politics, or whether they are just ‘luvvies’ sticking their nose in, it remains to be seen what impact they will have in a second referendum.

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In terms of superstars, the No campaign had the edge in the 2014 vote, but Yes got a polling-day boost from tennis great Andy Murray.

But looking ahead to the next independence referendum, should it happen, will the celebrity battle lines be drawn again? Here are some of the big names who have changed their minds on the decision on Scotland’s future.

David Tennant – No to Yes

Picture: John Devlin

The former Doctor Who star might have been as involved in the Better Together campaign as some of his fellow creatives like JK Rowling, but he has made his feeling clear before on the SNP and nationalism.

He has also been a staunch supporter of Labour in the past, narrating several Party Political Broadcasts for the party in the UK and Scotland, as well as endorsing them at elections.

This weekend, however, Tennant said that Brexit, combined with the poor polling ratings of incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn, had made him changes his mind.

He told a newspaper: “I think that we are in for quite a dark time, politically. I’m now at the point where I think that if Scotland goes again for a referendum, they should go independent.”

David Tennant has changed his mind on independence. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

John Hannah - No to Yes

Another Scottish actor – perhaps best known for his role in Four Weddings and a Funeral, also was influenced by the Brexit vote.

Last June’s shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union, a proposition Scottish voters rejected by a near two-to-one margin, was the material change many in the SNP thought could boost independence.

While some polls suggest that argument may be cutting through, it is also one that is relevant for public figures who have changed their mind.

Picture: John Devlin

Hannah said last summer: “I wasn’t particularly happy with the idea of Scotland breaking up from the rest of the UK, however, under these circumstances, I would have no doubt in saying that the Scottish people should pursue their own interests and stay attached to Europe and have self-governance as an independent country.

Ewan McGregor – No to Yes (just about)

It might be somewhat harsh to include the Trainspotting megastar in this list, considering he has admitted to being ‘totally confused’ on the issue of Scotland’s constitutional future.

But he is another Scottish acting export whose mind appears to have been changed by the victory of Farage and co in the Brexit referendum.

McGregor told Andrew Marr: “The truth is I didn’t want Scotland to be independent in 2014. I was worried Scotland would flounder if it was on its own and I believed in the Union and that we were stronger together.

McGregor also spoke of his horror at seeing a victorious Nigel Farage in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, adding: “The next day I would have absolutely voted for Scotland to leave (The UK) I really would have done.”

David Tennant has changed his mind on independence. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Jim McColl – Yes to No

Not for nothing did some dub the millionaire ‘Alex Salmond’s favourite businessman’. The engineering entrepreneur was a key business figure in 2014’s referendum.

The East Kilbride native, known for his role at the helm of Clyde Blowers, was even feature on pro independence leaflets in the build up to the big vote.

But in the spring of 2015, McColl told the Financial Times that while he still supported further autonomy to boost the economy, the independence issue was settled.

Pressed on whether he still believed the country would move towards becoming a separate state, he said: “No. The decision has been made.”