Eclectic is scarcely adequate to describe the motley crew of celebrities, who were undoubtedly recruited by some bright, young Downing St sage and asked to tell the people of Scotland of their undying affection for the place and its people. A principal organiser was historian and TV presenter, Dan Snow; he will certainly love the land since his father-in-law, the Duke of Westminster, owns a sizeable chunk of it. If there is a common link in this disparate group, it is the unlikelihood of bumping into any one of them at a food bank near you.
Among the signatories, urging Scots to vote NO, was General Sir Mike Jackson, former Chief of the General Staff , the highest position in the British Army.The most controversial point of his tenure as CGS was the restructuring of the batallion system and amalgamation of many of them into larger ones, leading to the loss of historic regiment names, particularly in Scotland. There was fury throughout the country at this crude, clinical dismantling which ignored historical nuances and strong family ties to ancient regiments.
This is not his first association with vexatious fiction. As the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday revealed, 26 year old Captain Mike Jackson was present as an adjutant in Derry on Bloody Sunday and was the sole author of the notorious ‘shot list’, a tissue of lies, which maligned the reputations of innocent victims for nearly 40 years. Irish journalist and authority on the events of Bloody Sunday, Eamonn McCann, believes that Saville baulked at attributing some responsibility for the massacre to Jackson because of his later pre-eminence in the Army. It remains inexplicable to many how blame was apportioned to Jackson’s commander and to the men under him but not to the adjutant in the middle
His chuzpah recognises no bounds and his signature on this letter is but another example of it. He was interviewed on TV when Ratko Mladiç, the Serb Commander, was captured and sent to the Hague for trial. “Mladiç had no respect for the rules of war,” explained Jackson in cut glass tones through non-ironic lips.
For fifteen hours on the 18th September, the future of this country will be in our hands, an awesome responsibility. In making a decision, we will want carefully to weigh the opinions and advice of those whom we respect. I suspect, quite rightly, that the views of these celebrities will be dismissed totally as empty and irrelevant .
It’s a matter of trust, really.