Scottish independence: Kirk chiefs back Yes

More than 30 Church of Scotland ministers have signed a declaration of support for independence.

Douglas Alexander MP (left) and Reverend Doug Gay at the Kirk's General Assembly independence debate in May 2014. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The Kirk leaders say they are backing a Yes vote to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons and create a more socially just country.

Among the signatories is the Right Rev Andrew McLellan, a former moderator of the Church who also served as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons until 2009.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

He said: “The worst thing in Scotland is Trident. September 18th is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remove the worst thing in Scotland.

“Speaking against nuclear weapons is good, campaigning against nuclear weapons is good, and praying for their abolition is good. But what will change everything is voting Yes in the referendum.”

The declaration is also signed by Norman Shanks, former convener of the Kirk’s church and nation committee, Ron Ferguson, former Herald columnist and retired minister of St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney, and Peter Macdonald, the leader of the ecumenical Iona Community.

Explaining his support for independence, Mr Macdonald said: “I no longer believe the Westminster Government is capable of delivering the socially just and equitable society in which I want to live.

“The British state no longer serves the needs of all its people. Economic policies pursued have favoured the wealthy who have grown richer and stigmatised the poor and vulnerable who are paying for the failures of the private financial sector.”

Mr Shanks, who is also a former private secretary to the secretary of state for Scotland, said: “We have the opportunity to strengthen democracy and reflect our values and priorities more effectively in developing policies that will create a more just, equal and hospitable society, get rid of nuclear weapons and, far from cutting ourselves off, enhance Scotland’s contribution to the wider community of nations.”

Mr Ferguson added: “I have changed my mind on the issue. Why? The answer is simple: A Tory UK government that brought us Margaret Thatcher and the poll tax and a Labour UK government that brought us the war in Iraq: not in Scotland’s name.”

The statement was co-ordinated by the cross-denominational group Christians for Independence.

Convener Dave Thompson MSP said the group had been “overwhelmed” by the number of Church of Scotland ministers backing the Yes campaign.