Clan chief makes plea for a No vote in the referendum

BY LISA FALCONER lisa.falconer@whfp.co.uk

The head of the Clan MacLeod has weighed into the independence debate when he wrote to the staff on his Dunvegan Estate explain­ing why he will be voting No in next week’s vote.

In a two-page letter sent to MacLeod Estate employees, Hugh MacLeod wrote: “Although the estate’s policy is and will continue to be neutral when it comes to politics, the forthcoming independence referendum goes way beyond the political sphere in terms of its importance and potential impact.

“Of course how you intend to vote is entirely a matter for you but as your employer, I feel I have a duty to share some of my personal thoughts and concerns with you.”

Mr MacLeod goes on to say: “How do you unmake a 307 year old cup of tea that has been brewing ever since the Act of Union in 1707? This is just one of the many painfully complex questions that will cause headaches for Ministers of the UK and Scottish governments in the event of a Yes vote next month and the subsequent negotiations on the irreversible destruction of one of the most successful unions in history.”

As well as criticising “cybernats”, Mr MacLeod writes that freedom of speech has been “eroded” by the “divisive nature of nationalist politics in recent times”. He adds that as a student of Modern History he came to see nationalism as “inherently divisive, intolerant, xenophobic, vitriolic and destructive”.

In a further attack on the SNP, Mr MacLeod comments: “The great deception the SNP are selling is that absolutely everything will be better in an independent Scotland. How do they know? What makes them so sure? Asserting something does not make it fact. The SNP vision of a land of milk and honey funded by unlimited oil wealth may well end up creating a land where everyone has an equal share of a lot less.”

Mr MacLeod adds that he would not have been able to finance the restoration of Dunvegan Castle or investment in the estate in an independent Scotland.

The letter has been criticised by Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Dave Thompson, who said: “Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts on the referendum but employeers should be especially careful writing to employees with their views.

“In my opinion it verges on intimidation in the way it claims jobs will be at risk if there is a Yes vote. No employeer should exert that psychological pressure on workers, it is unfair and unnecessary.”

A spokesman for Mr MacLeod responded: “The letter was a personal opinion and makes abundantly clear that how employees vote is a matter for them. He had been asked by a number of people for his opinion and thought nothing wrong with expressing his personal opinion.”