Scottish Independence: Ex-US President Bill Clinton wades into separation row

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
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BILL Clinton has raised fresh questions over Scottish independence, arguing that the bonds that bind people “matter more” than what makes them feel separate.

• Clinton says referendum is case of national identity crisis.

• US politician highlights need for “common ground”.

The former US President told an audience in London that the issue of independence was a “classic case” of identity politics which, would dominate 21st century.

“We’ve got to keep working for common ground all around the world,” he said. “I think the 21st century will be decided by how we handle the identity crisis. How do we keep our special identity? You’re going to see this, you’ve got the Scottish referendum here. Classic case.”

He added: “Can you be Scottish and British? How are the Egyptians going to deal with their various identities and still be Egyptian?”

He went on: “Can we find a way to appreciate what is separate and unique about us and still think that what we have in common with others still matters more?”


He observed that political debate framed about identity issues hampered efforts to forge stronger bonds. “You can’t have 51/49, 52/48 debate about that every single year. This is the triumph of identity politics that is zero sum and its negative reference instead of a common vision.”

The comments were seized upon by pro-UK figures last night who said Mr Clinton agreed that the “best way to deal with the challenges we face is to bind together, not break apart.”

However, the SNP insisted last night that it backed Mr Clinton’s call to seek common ground. “An independent Scotland will continue to work closely with our friends and allies in the UK, the US and around the globe, but in a modern, 21st century partnership of equal nations,” a spokesman said.

He added: “And as such we will be able to play a full part in that working for common ground which Mr Clinton calls for. Independence is about who is best placed to make decisions about Scotland’s future. It is not about identity and as much it is perfectly possible for people to feel British in a politically independent Scotland.”