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JK Rowling Joins Anti-Scottish Independence Campaign With £1M Donation

With only a few months left before the September 18 vote, Rowling's gift is the largest received by the anti-independence campaign.

by Jordan Larson
Jun 11 2014, 5:20pm

Photo via AP/Andrew Milligan

JK Rowling has donated £1 million to the Scottish anti-independence group Better Together, the largest single donation the group has received.

Ahead of the September 18 referendum vote on whether to leave the UK, Better Together is currently lagging behind the pro-independence group Yes Scotland, which received $3.5 million pounds from lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir.

Harry Potter author Rowling, who has lived in Scotland for the past 21 years, cited worries about a globalized economy in her decision to oppose Scottish independence.

"[Scotland] must compete in the same global markets, defend itself from the same threats and navigate what still feels like a fragile economic recovery. The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimization and even denial of risks,” she wrote in a statement on her website. "Whenever the big issues are raised — our heavy reliance on oil revenue if we become independent, what currency we'll use, whether we'll get back into the EU — reasonable questions are drowned out by accusations of ‘scaremongering.’”

Rowling also compared some radical nationalists to the villainous, racist Death Eaters from her Harry Potter books, citing nationalists’ focus on “purity of lineage.”

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While Rowling has given the single largest gift to Better Together, she is not the first celebrity to weigh in on the issue. Joining her in opposing independence are David Bowie, comedian Eddie Izzard, and comedian Billy Connolly. Sean Connery, however, has voiced his support of independence.

The question of Scottish independence largely revolves around issues of economic sovereignty, with the UK’s use of Scotland’s oil revenues, its more conservative ruling government, its history of imperialism, and the holding of nuclear weapons on Scottish land among reasons for independence. However, the recent economic downturn has cast doubt on Scotland’s ability to sustain itself in the globalized market.

As Rowling noted in her statement, “I’m mindful of the fact that when [the Royal Bank of Scotland] needed to be bailed out, membership of the union saved us from economic catastrophe, and I worry about whether North Sea oil can, as we are told by the ‘Yes’ campaign, sustain and even improve Scotland’s standard of living.”

While a push for Scottish independence began almost immediately after it was unified with England in the early 18th century, the movement truly gained steam in 1934, with the establishment of the Scottish National Party. The 1970s also marked a renewed push for independence, which resulted in a 1979 referendum, which did not pass — though 52 percent voted for devolution, only 33 percent of the eligible electorate formed the majority. This was less than the 40 percent required for a decisive victory.

Another referendum was held in 1997, resulting in the establishment of a separate Scottish Parliament. The issue was taken up yet again in 2007, when the Scottish National Party won their first election; in 2011 they formed a majority government in Parliament. The SNP has continued to lead the independence campaign, with First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond as the campaign’s public face.

As reported by Reuters, the latest TNS poll shows 30 percent in favor of independence, 42 percent opposed, and 28 percent undecided.

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Follow Jordan Larson on Twitter: @jalarsonist