Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 16:15 UK

Labour actor backed independence


The BBC's "This Week" show from 26 April 2007

An actor who campaigned for Labour in the Glasgow East by-election previously backed independence, it has emerged.

Taggart star John Michie told the BBC's This Week show last year that Scots would find "a new confidence" with independence.

He has since issued a statement through Labour to say that "independence isn't the best way forward".

The issue has seen the SNP and Labour accuse each other of being in chaos over constitutional issues.

While campaigning for Labour candidate Margaret Curran in Glasgow East on Tuesday, Mr Michie said: "I'm delighted to be joining Margaret on the campaign trail.

An independent Scotland would find a new confidence. It would slow down the brain-drain that causes this country to lose so many of its most brightest and most skilled
John Michie
This Week, 26 April 2007
"I know from my own experience that Labour has made a real difference to Glasgow but we need tough fighters like her in Westminster to make sure that progress continues."

However, his support for Ms Curran made no mention of his backing for independence on the This Week programme, broadcast before last year's Holyrood election.

In that, he said the union was "the last vestige of an empire on which the sun has well and truly set".

He said: "This union has become a barrier for Scotland participating in a younger union - the European Union."

Mr Michie said an independent Scotland would never have participated in the war in Iraq and described independence as a "constructive process" which would also benefit England.

"An independent Scotland would find a new confidence," he said.

Independence isn't the best way forward for Scotland. Personally I think we should be together, within the European Union
John Michie
17 July 2008

"It would slow down the brain-drain that causes this country to lose so many of its brightest and most skilled.

"And Edinburgh, that great European capital that has already witnessed one Enlightenment, could once again be the cradle for new insights in modernity and progress."

However, his position on independence appeared to change on Thursday.

He is reported to have told the Daily Mail newspaper that while he was not an SNP supporter and was not convinced about the merits of independence, he felt the UK was emotionally and politically redundant.

'Politically redundant'

Then, in a statement released through the Labour Party, he said: "I am a Labour voter who holds very strong views and, although those views aren't always in agreement with everything the Labour Government says or does, they certainly aren't in line with the SNP.

"On whether we should break up Britain, I agree with Margaret Curran that independence isn't the best way forward for Scotland.

"Personally I think we should be together, within the European Union."

The SNP said his comments provided more evidence that the Labour campaign was unravelling.

The party's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, said: "As if losing their original candidate was not bad enough, Labour have gone from sneaking in government ministers under cover, to revealing a supporter who believes that the UK is 'emotionally and politically redundant'.

Party logos
The Glasgow East by-election will take place on 24 July

"After Ms Curran's false claims about living in the east end, and her campaign's inability to tell a 93-year-old war hero from a 67-year old Labour activist, Labour's campaign is clearly in chaos."

But Labour hit back, and pointed to comments from SNP MP Pete Wishart on the BBC's Daily Politics programme on Wednesday.

It accused Mr Wishart of contradicting the SNP's Glasgow East candidate, John Mason, on whether an independence referendum would be final.

Labour MP David Cairns said Mr Mason had made it clear that "when it comes to an independence referendum, no does not mean no".

"Now a very senior SNP MP has been forced to contradict their by-election candidate, telling the BBC that there will be no referendum for a generation if Scotland votes no," he said.

"Either Mr Mason let the cat out of the bag on the SNP's true plans or his hardline message is so extreme that even the SNP hierarchy have disowned him. Either way, the SNP is in utter disarray."

Biggleswade Chronicle Nick Clegg hits campaign trail - 13 hrs ago
The Scotsman Round one to Labour as SNP accused of hypocrisy over 'two jobs' jibe - 18 hrs ago
Rye and Battle Observer Parties battle for by-election win - 19 hrs ago

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