Alex Massie Alex Massie

Tunes of Numpties: Scottish novelists on independence

There are many ways to commission fat-headed political analysis but, in my experience, by far the easiest is to ask a novelist his (or her) opinion on the great issues of the day. Better still, ask several. That way you can be sure you’ll get something even the student version of the Socialist Worker might think twice before publishing.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some of them quite close to home, in my view. Nevertheless (as Miss Spark so often said) the general rule applies: asking writers for their views on politics is no more useful or sensible than asking gravediggers or sheep shearers their opinion. It may be interesting; it is not likely to be valuable. Or, to put it more kindly, expertise in writing fiction does not necessarily translate into expertise in analysing politics. And why should it? They are different skills and there’s no reason to suppose novelists any less mental than the average zoomer chosen by lottery.

So I’m grateful to David Torrance for alerting me to this corking sampling of Scottish writers’ views on the whole independence stramash. Fairness demands one acknowledge that it’s not all barmy and not wholly self-indulgent or sentimental guff. Still, enough of it is for it to entertain.

Best of all is the contribution from Alan Warner which is not, I believe, meant to be read as a parody. According to Mr Warner, author of a number of good novels including Morvern Callar:

I fully support the yes campaign: a vote for increased democracy, a vote for the greater representation of a unique populace and a huge chance to break with the moribund, corrupt, militaristic lump that is Westminster today. The democratic dividends for Scotland have been kept well off the agenda by the big-business-led no campaign and its Nicodemite fellow travellers – a few of whom are writers.

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