Meet the Scottish couple who went from Kings of karaoke to running guerrilla campaign ‘The Majority’

The Majority founders, Mark and Mary DevlinThe Majority founders, Mark and Mary Devlin
The Majority founders, Mark and Mary Devlin
A Scottish couple have gone from being the kings of karaoke and creating websites in Japan to running a guerrilla operation against independence known as ‘The Majority’.

Mark and Mary Devlin are the Unionist force behind a series of billboards that have been appearing across Scotland bearing the slogan “#ResignSturgeon”.

Now the organiser of 'The Majority' has vowed to register his group with the Electoral Commission and offer a voice to what he describes as the "silent majority" across Scotland.

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It forms part of a new approach to campaign in Scotland, run from the couple’s home just outside Glasgow.

Mr Devlin moved to Japan in 1989, followed by his wife a year later, where they set up – one of the world’s leading sites about Japan.

In 2007, the couple sold their businesses and moved to the United States where they opened Kroaky’s – a private karaoke room business.

Returning to Scotland in 2016, Mark told The Scotsman they had looked in horror at the rise of nationalism from afar.

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A digital billboard near the Clydeside Expressway in Glasgow showing the words #ResignSturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA WireA digital billboard near the Clydeside Expressway in Glasgow showing the words #ResignSturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
A digital billboard near the Clydeside Expressway in Glasgow showing the words #ResignSturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

He said: "We represent the silent majority of people in Scotland, who are angry and frustrated by Nicola Sturgeon’s shenanigans bringing international shame on Scotland.

“When we left that time, the SNP were just 5 per cent in the polls and just a nutter and cranks, or rightly viewed that way.

“To some extent the big question was ‘how did this happen?’.

“We talked about the boiling frog, the frogs in the pot that don’t realise they are being slowly boiled.

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“The casual nationalism and seeing that is quite disturbing – this rise in anti-English sentiment, a rise in centralisation of power in Edinburgh, just things that people in Scotland might not notice as much.”

Signs bearing the slogan have been seen in recent weeks at Clydeside Expressway in Glasgow, Slateford Road in Edinburgh and Market Street.

A plane was also chartered to carry a banner with the same message over the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh.

A statement on The Majority’s website explains the campaign is a message to Ms Sturgeon to “take responsibility” for her government’s “catastrophic handling” of the Alex Salmond harassment inquiry.

Mr Devlin explained having spent time abroad running website and building companies, the pair decided to try and do something about it.

He said: “It took a few years. We came back to Scotland with basically nothing, two suitcases each and we were basically homeless for four months, staying with relatives and family and had to start from the very beginning again.

“We weren’t really thinking about anything, but how to survive to begin with. But then after a while I saw people were angry and frustrated and thought I’ll make some video commentaries, and I realised I can do more than that.

"I set up and ran it for 14 years, got it up to a staff of 40, and as part of that did Japan Today.

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"So I started to build into more articles, do videos, and try and use all the aspects of modern media, memes, list articles.

“The response was very positive and it’s clear people are looking for something, and I think that’s why we’ve grown quickly, to 14,000 followers on Twitter and 25,000 on Facebook.”

Though Mrs Devlin is now running for Holyrood with All for Unity, her husband explained his concerns were not simply with the politicians being elected, but the nature of Holyrood itself.

He said: “The nature of constitutional arrangement should be something that should be looked at at all times.

“There should be more discussion on what alternatives there are to a Scottish Parliament and is the Scottish Parliament delivering for the Scottish people?

“For the last 14 years it hasn’t delivered. Does that mean it has to be abolished? I don’t know.

“If you have a system that can be taken over by nationalists and used as a vehicle for separation, then I think it doesn’t fit the purpose or intention of what it’s for.”

The Majority have a series of new billboards planned and will also urge the public to vote tactically come the Holyrood election on May 6.

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Mr Devlin explained the pair would not be backing a particular party, but were “strong believers in [a] tactical vote”.

They work on the page together, with Mrs Devlin overseeing the finances and daily management, while her husband sticks to editorial.

Mr Devlin said: “We are trying to unite the anti-nationalist vote and I think we are doing pretty well on that.

“Things like the ‘Resign Sturgeon” campaign are an extension of that. To me it’s another form of media.

"Hopefully we can get some attention, then bring people into a community, then help people fight nationalists narratives that have been so strong.”

The 54-year-old explained the message was strong enough they were not spending a lot of money. But he admitted they were nearly at the £10,000 mark, so would be signing up to the Electoral Commission.

He said: “I am quite surprised at the number of donations. We just raised £11,500 to do more billboards.

“We’ve been getting donations as well, so I’m at the point now where I can almost give up some clients.

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“I want to do more editorial, more content and more special events and we have more billboard campaigns planned.

“We will be registering with the Electoral Commission, so when we do the campaign we will be quite close to going over the limit.

“It wasn’t that much for the billboards. I think you don’t need to spend that much money if you’ve got a strong message and an unusual way of delivering it.”

Working across fields in technology and editorial, Mr Devlin says he hopes ‘The Majority’ can grow into something “bigger” and go past the election.

He said: “It might become something more than an activist publication, maybe a new type of media that goes beyond this current campaign.”

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