By a Newsnet reporter
Attempts by some to make identity a central issue of the debate on Scotland’s future have been condemned by the SNP.
The party, which is spearheading the drive towards a Yes vote in September’s referendum, has slammed what it says is a move by some in the media to “foster division”.
In a statement issued today, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson insisted the referendum vote was about democracy.
Rejecting claims from some media outlets that English born people living in Scotland were a threat to Scottish independence, Mr Robertson said:
“At all levels of politics, the SNP is represented by those either born in England or with strong connections to England.
“Throughout this campaign there seems to have been a deliberate attempt from some to try and paint the referendum as being about identity. We reject that wholeheartedly.”
The comments from the SNP MP, who is himself half German and was born in Wimbledon, London, follows a worrying shift in focus by some media outlets.
A Panelbase poll on behalf of the Sunday Times showed support for Yes at 47% when the undecided are pressed on how they would vote if the ballot was held tomorrow. However the paper singled out English born respondents in its article headline which appeared to try to link the debate to ethnic division.
The newspaper reported: “There are some concerns that the effect of English votes in potentially making the difference between success or failure for the Yes campaign could lead to increased tensions in the event of a narrow No vote.”
The SNP also condemned the reaction by some to the Queen’s opening remarks to the Church of Scotland General Assembly as concerted attempts to foster division in Scotland appear to be growing.
Mr Robertson accused sections of the press of misrepresenting a message from the Queen after the monarch had addressed the Church of Scotland.
He said: “In typically gracious remarks, Her Majesty highlighted the importance of everyone working together for the social good of Scotland, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.
“This is something I welcome and agree with wholeheartedly, and thought would have been welcomed across the political spectrum.”
The Queen’s remarks were reported by one Sunday newspaper as ‘Queen fears Scots divide’. The Scottish Sunday Express reported: “The Queen is so concerned at the bad-tempered tone of the independence debate she yesterday made a rare intervention into politics to appeal for calm.”
The newspaper also claimed a survey it had carried out suggested, “Scottish society could become permanently fractured.”
SNP MSP Nigel Don who is of Scottish descent but was born and educated in England, commented:
“The movement of people toward Yes is happening across all parts of society in Scotland. It is not about identity – it is who is best placed to make decisions for Scotland. We believe that is the people living in Scotland.
“Scotland has been hugely enriched as a nation through those who have come here to live and work and raise their families – from England and further afield.”
SNP MEP candidate Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh was born in London to an Indian-born father and a mother who was half-Welsh and half-Czech.
She commented: “The Yes campaign is broad and its supporters include Scots old and new alike. It was of course the late Bashir Ahmad, Scotland’s first Scots-Asian MSP who said ‘it isn’t important where you come from, what matters is where we are going together as a nation.’
“As we approach the referendum, the Asian community in Scotland is definitely moving towards independence.”