An Open Letter to JK Rowling

Subject: An Open Letter to JK Rowling
From: Allan Crosbie
Date: 13 Mar 2015

Dear Joanne,

You won’t remember me but nearly 20 years ago we worked together briefly in a school in Edinburgh. Your talents have since made you a lot of money and given you considerable status and influence; I have continued to channel mine into that Freirean project of opening minds and changing the world from the classroom. You now have millions of Twitter followers; I have six.

People should always act on their conscience and yours has obviously prompted you to speak out in order to try to prevent Scotland voting for Independence. In doing so over the last few days you have claimed to be speaking not out of self-interest but on behalf of ordinary Scots who, you claim, are set to suffer immeasurably under Independence.

You speak of three kinds of Yes voters – the first are gamblers on oil and blackmailers on the currency; the second are crazed zealots; the third don’t want to talk about the economy.

You pose self-deprecatingly as no ‘world leader’ and proud to be associated with Billy Connolly. The problem with this intervention is that it is supremely arrogant and a biased, uninformed distortion. I expect those kinds of behaviour from a ‘world leader’ but I don’t expect them from a writer. A writer, one would hope, would first be a wide reader and a good listener. It is clear from your intervention that you have been neither over the past months.

If you had, you would realise that September 18th isn’t a referendum on the White Paper, or on Alex Salmond and his proposal to cut corporation tax, but a vote about power and where that power should reside. In advocating a No vote, you are asking ordinary Scottish people, who you claim to care so much about, to keep themselves as distant as it is possible to be in a democracy from having any kind of influence over the decisions that affect their lives.

“Who’ll be hurting,” you ask about Independence, “paying increased tax/losing public services/paying off the deficit? Not me.” Joanne – change the question from the future to the present tense to feel the full impact of your arrogance. People already are hurting and the system in the UK leaves them powerless to change it, and the system isn’t going to change itself.

Only radical action from the grassroots can shake things up – for everyone across the UK. And the groups at the heart of the Yes campaign, who you completely ignore or haven’t listened to, are that radical hope. Commonweal, Radical Independence Campaign, Women for Independence, Teachers for Yes, the Greens, the Socialists – these are the groups who have earned the right to speak for the voiceless, not you.

They are the ones who are helping ordinary Scottish people to realise that a Yes vote is in their interests because it gives them back some semblance of power over the forces that are currently crushing them.

Stop aligning yourself with those forces, Joanne. Being a Yes voter isn’t about being a gambler or a blackmailer, a zealot or an economic imbecile. It’s about being a force for bottom-up change across all the countries of the ‘Union’ so that the 99% are calling the shots, not the 1%. You are part of that 1% financially; you don’t need to be part of it ideologically. Those of us voting Yes are not abandoning our counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – we are inspiring them to take the same kind of power back into their hands.

Vote No if you want that for yourself – but don’t pretend it’s in the interests of people who you have not been talking to or listening to.

I will happily debate these issues with you in any forum up to September 18th. I understand if you decline that offer, but it would be nice to get a reply from you of some kind.

Kind regards,

Allan Crosbie