Celebrities plunging into the debate on Scottish
independence risk attracting public wrath from opposing sides
in the run-up to the Sept. 18 referendum. Some, like tennis
star Andy Murray, have opted to keep quiet.
James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery, a long-time Scottish
nationalist, advocates breaking the 307-year tie with
England, supporting separatists' arguments that oil-rich
Scotland can be a prosperous, independent nation.
English singer David Bowie, who lives in New York, has urged
Scots not to break away, endorsing Prime Minister David
Cameron's view that the United Kingdom is strongest together.
But Murray has kept out of the increasingly heated debate,
saying at the weekend that he had been previously roasted for
a comments seen as representing a political view.
Murray, who became the first Briton in 77 years to win the
men's singles title at Wimbledon last year, drew criticism
before the 2006 World Cup when he said he'd support anyone
but England, a remark he has said many times since was not
"I wouldn't personally choose to make my feelings on
something like that public either, because not a whole lot of
good comes from it," said Murray, adding his view was
irrelevant as one of 1.15 million expatriate Scots not
eligible to vote.
"I've made that mistake in the past and it's caused me a
headache for ... eight years of my life and a lot of abuse."
Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, 71, has said he won't vote,
calling the debate "a morass that I care not to dip my toe
Opinion polls show about half Scottish voters opposing
separation and the nationalists gaining ground with about one
third support. About 16 percent are undecided.
Connery, 83, a Bahamas resident who cannot vote, says he
might return to his native land if it broke away.
"As a Scot and as someone with a lifelong love for both
Scotland and the arts, I believe the opportunity of
independence is too good to miss," he wrote in a New
Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox, a Scot who lives in London,
was once an ardent supporter of independence but, frequently
targeted in online attacks, has moderated her views, saying
the decision should not be swayed by "heady patriotic
Bowie faced a flood of online abuse from nationalist
"cybernats" last month when he said "Scotland, stay with us"
at an awards show. Left-wing English singer and activist
Billy Bragg, who supports independence, welcomed Bowie's
comment, saying it encouraged discussion.
Singer Susan Boyle, who won fame on TV talent show "Britain's
Got Talent", says she's proud to be a Scot, but is no
nationalist. Scottish actress Emma Thompson also opposes
independence, questioning how a new border helps anyone.
Six-time cycling gold medallist Chris Hoy said last year that
future Olympians could find it harder to reach the top if
Scotland became independent, but refused to say how he would
vote, saying he was "a cyclist, not a politician".
His comments also prompted a barrage of internet abuse, much
of which criticised his relatively comfortable upbringing in
Scotland including his private school education.
Former Manchester United football club manager Alex Ferguson
has not made his views public, but it has been widely
reported that he has donated to the pro-UK Better Together
The Scottish government, headed by the Scottish National
Party, has condemned online abuse of celebrities by so-called
cybernats or others. "We welcome all contributions to the
debate wherever they come from," a spokesman said.
The decision to allow only Scottish residents to vote has
come under attack in a campaign led by London-based lawyer
James Wallace, who sought legal opinion from barrister Aidan
O'Neill, who specialises in EU law, concluded the exclusion
of non-resident Scots could be illegal as it violated Scots'
right to freedom of movement under European Union law.
Wallace said he had sent the advice to Scotland's First
Minister Alex Salmond and Cameron, calling for the franchise
to be expanded. If ignored, he plans to lodge a petition
signed by 3,200 Scots demanding a judicial review in the
A Scottish government spokesman said the Edinburgh agreement
that set the terms of the vote confirmed the franchise was
for the Scottish parliament to determine.