David Bowie Weighs Into Scottish Referendum Debate


David Bowie used his acceptance speech for Best Male Solo Artist at the Brit Awards to plead for Scotland to “stay with us” in the forthcoming referendum on independence. His unexpected intervention has earned him a barrage of criticism from “cybernats,” supporters of Scottish nationalism on twitter.

Not that he gave the speech himself; he sent Kate Moss, supermodel, dressed in his original Ziggy Stardust outfit, described by Noel Gallagher as “his representative on earth.”  Moss also had to say that she was delighted to be the “best male.”

She may have only uttered four words at the end of the speech but they were enough to set off an avalanche of publicity.  BowieOne Scottish newspaper has suggested a “gnome-bombing” plan in retaliation, to assault the singer with a worldwide explosion of his least favorite single, 1967’s The Laughing Gnome. Copying and pasting the link on every social media platform available should be suitably annoying, is the prediction.

Twitter immediately leapt to the barricades as the show was broadcast, using the hashtags #scottishbowie and #indyref.  Many of the responses were plays on words on famed Bowie song titles, such as The Man Who Fell to Perth, Jocks, I’m Only Dancing, Speyside Oddity and The Spiders from Largs.

The punning spilled over into the Scottish Parliament today as Bowie lyrics made their way into question time. First Minister Alex Salmond found the Scottish women’s curling team to be “heroes just for one day” and in turn, the Labor leader asked him to “turn and face the strain.”

Clutching at the Bowie advantage, other politicians who oppose the split and think the UK is “Better Together” used his endorsement with glee. Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, said on radio that Bowie was “one of his childhood heroes” and that he agreed with him the UK was fine the way it was.

Bowie’s famous Union Jack coat

No stranger himself to political comment, fellow singer Billy Bragg supported the remark and hopes it will be a springboard for more people to get involved with the debate. Bragg has already joined Annie Lennox and The Proclaimers in voicing their opinion to vote Yes. Although he is pro-independence, he still thinks that Bowie’s weighing in is a good thing. He thinks that south of the border there is not enough discussion going on about the pros and cons. He admits he is not entitled to vote but he still has a point of view. Above all, it may break the London-centric current set-up in Britain.

Scottish guitarist, Stuart Braithwaite, from the band Mogwai, also felt that all contributions to the debate were welcomed, and as he had forgiven Bowie for the Placebo collaboration, “I’m sure I can forgive him for this folly too.” Brathwaite, like Bragg, thinks its better for the Yes vote if more people get involved with the discussion.

The official Yes Scotland campaign also took this line, congratulating Bowie on the award and acknowledging how popular he was in Scotland, whatever his views may be on the forthcoming referendum. They too, took the “heroes” line by saying “On September 18th (the date of the voting) we can all be heroes just for one day by voting Yes.”

Not everyone was so sanguine though about the 67-year-old comeback king’s comment. One tweet said in dialect that it was “not sae much “spiders frae mars” and a bit mer “talkin frae ma ars.”  Bowie’s Facebook and Twitter pages were swamped with similar sentiments. The fact that he is English, and that he chooses to live in America, were regularly pointed out. Many felt they were being patronized. It was also noted he had failed to turn up at the ceremony and had sent a supermodel to collect his award for him. There was also some support from those who favor the union, but it was less vociferous.

In recent days and weeks the Scottish independence debate has been all about the pound and the EU. David Bowie has certainly turned it up a notch by weighing in and causing so much controversy.

By Kate Henderson

Daily Record

Herald Scotland

Belfast Telegraph

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