Has Mark Millar Changed His Mind On Scottish Independence?

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In just over two weeks' time, the population of Scotland votes in a referendum to decide whether or not the country should secede from the rest of the United Kingdom and form its own nation state.

But how will Scotland's favourite comic book son be voting? In 2012, Mark Millar wrote,

I was torn about independence for a long time, but what finally swayed me was the blank piece of paper it offers us as a nation. As a writer, nothing excites me more than a blank page because the potential is enormous. It's limitless. Every new sheet of paper could essentially be the biggest moment of our careers and starting a country from scratch has that same almost unquantifiable excitement.

Think about what we're being offered here. Think how long it will be before we get another chance. We owe it to our past and we owe it to our futures. This is how Americans must have felt in 1776, but imagine how different their country would be were

they still wedded to an ancient and defunct monarchy. Scotland has had a wildly disproportionate impact on the world and we see this today in every industry on the global stage. That said, we're not without our problems at home and there's many aspects of the country that need a radical shake-up. Independence would give us a chance to start from scratch and force us to see ourselves – not as the northern region of an out of touch Britain – but an incredible force in our own right. Year Zero is coming up and should give us all a chance to do better .

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And earlier this year on Reddit, he wrote,

I want Scotland to be separated from England and on a kind of Cloud City device like Lando's place in Empire.

He has certainly been claimed as a supporter by the Yes campaign for Scottish independence, with the referendum less than three weeks away. He appeared on party political broadcasts for the Scottish National Party. He was thanked by First Minister Alex Salmond's acceptance speech after the SNP won the General Election. However, he has maintained disquiet about the possibility of moving from the pound to the Euro and has expressed admiration for Nigel Farage, the leader of unionist nationalist party UKIP, opposed to the Euro – and to Scottish secession.

And yesterday, he seems to have wobbled, from a firm 'yes' to an 'undecided'. He wrote,

I'm still undecided on how I'm voting in the referendum, seeing massive positives and negatives in both the Yes and No camps. I'm also not disclosing my voting intention at any point either because that curtain exists in the polling station for a simple reason; our right to privacy. In an era when we all seem to be posting images of what we're having for breakfast I think it's nice that we still have something that remains intrinsically private.

I've publicly endorsed parties in the past, but going forward I have no plans to. I think the SNP government in Edinburgh has generally done an excellent job and I like Salmond both personally and as a First Minister. But the Yes and No camps demean the debate I think by parading people in more publicly known jobs. I really don't care how an actor or a comedian or a musician or a writer plans to vote. It doesn't sway my intention and, if anything, I think it cheapens the level of debate in much the same way Hollywood actors being rolled out to support Democrats or Republicans seems insane to me when most of these guys live as far away from real life and real concerns as you can possibly imagine.

The Yes and No thing has become increasingly hysterical because the axis of the argument has shifted from the facts and more towards the notion that the vote is between Scotland and England. It's gone tribal to the point where anyone expressing anything remotely seen as No is regarded as a traitor to Scotland when an entirely new social and economic blueprint is something that needs to be examined forensically and openly discussed because it changes our lives forever. The options aren't what we have now or something much better. I'm excited about the prospect of a new country and a new plan, that blank piece of paper idea, but at the same time I see the pitfalls too, especially our complete consumption into the European Union or what it really means when we share a currency with a country where we suddenly have no elected representatives determining valuation and interest rates. All these things need to be considered and these are so enormous we need to weigh them all up in something more precise than shouting Yes or No or heckling opponents. It's the dumbed down approach we saw with the Obama campaign where Hope was the buzzword without any proper details being determined in advance and this isn't a decision we can reverse in four years.

I regard myself as traditionally left of centre and progressive, a Eurosceptic in the Bennite mould, and the policies espoused by the coalition formed under the Yes umbrella are the closest to my own particular ideology. But again, can we please stop this dumbed down notion that independence would mean NO MORE TORIES? Or that Scotland never gets the government we voted for and this is why we need to cut ourselves off from Westminster? First of all, Scotland has had the government it voted for over thirteen of the past seventeen years. Two of the last three British Prime Ministers have been Scottish. Even the Thatcher years, a time not traditionally associated with right wing votes in Scotland, the Conservative share of the vote was within a whisker of Labour's in both 1979 and 1983. Looking back over the forties, fifties and much of the sixties Scotland OVERWHELMINGLY backed the Conservatives and Conservative support here is rock solid all the way back to the Whig-era in the middle of the nineteenth century. The notion that Scotland is any less right wing than England is a complete fallacy. The old Etonian Clement Attlee gave us a more left-wing, radicalised government than anything we've had before or since.

Also, let's smash the notion that a separated Scotland would never have another right wing government. Even as someone sympathetic to the Yes campaign and warm to independence, it makes no sense to anyone with any proper sense of history dating back before Hannah Montanna. The political pendulum tends to swing in ten to fifteen year cycles between the two main opposing parties. There's usually a couple of recessions in these political cycles and if you have a general election following a major one you tend to lose and the opposition gets a grip. In an independent Scotland we'll have the same pendulum and the progressive leftist agenda will inevitably peak and decline, followed by an opposite ideology before swinging back left again. If anything a separate Scotland will be a good chance for a (possibly renamed) Tory right to re-establish themselves. Even as the embarrassing rump they are at the moment with several parties splitting the vote they managed to score half as many votes as Labour at the last General Election and about the same as an ascendant SNP.

Anyway, my point is this… let's get smarter about the debate. Let's not roll out stoned pop stars/ actors/ comedians/ writers and prop them up with pre-established soundbites. Let's not heckle people who might have something crucial to say. Let's cut all the crap and just get down to the facts. Demonising the Tories or whoever your particular bogeyman is accomplishes nothing. This isn't a rally. This isn't a football match. This isn't good guys versus bad guys. Westminster gave us the welfare state as well as the Iraq War. Scotland gave us Keir Hardie as well as Nicky Fairbairn. This isn't black and white.

Let's all grow up and stop shouting each other down.

I just hope he hasn't thrown that Lairdship away!

Images on display at Veneer Gallery in Glasgow, courtesy of Dominic.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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