Ministers’ statements


One of Scotland’s most high-profile church figures is backing a Yes vote in next month’s referendum in order to grasp “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to rid the country of nuclear weapons which he describes as “the worst thing in Scotland”.

Former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Andrew McLellan says:

“Speaking against nuclear weapons is good, campaigning against nuclear weapons is good, and praying for their abolition is good. But what will change everything is voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum.”

 Rev. McLellan, who also served as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for seven years until 2009, is just one of over 30 senior Church of Scotland ministers to sign a full page advertisement in today’s Sunday Herald backing a Yes vote. The statement was co-ordinated by the pro-independence group Christians for Independence. A similar initiative is underway among Catholic supporters of Yes. The advert reads; “We believe that a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum makes possible a more socially just Scotland.”

The list of signatories includes some of the best known names within the Church of Scotland including Norman Shanks, former Convener of the Kirk’s Church and Nation Committee, Ken Ross, former General Secretary of the Kirk’s Board of World Mission, Ron Ferguson, former Herald columnist and retired Minister of St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney and Peter Macdonald, the Leader of the ecumenical Iona Community.

“I was a member of the Labour Party for thirty years until last year. Now I no longer believe Westminster Government is capable of delivering the socially just and equitable society in which I want to live,” said Rev. Macdonald.

 “The British State no longer serves the needs of all its people. Economic policies pursued have favoured the wealthy who have grown richer and stigmatised the poor and vulnerable who are paying for the failures of the private financial sector.”

 “The negativity and nonsense spouted by the No campaign have convinced me that it is time for Scotland to make its own decisions and its own mistakes.”

The Rev. Norman Shanks, who is also a former Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Scotland, said:

“I shall be voting ‘Yes’ on September 18th because I believe that, free from the constraints of Westminster, an independent Scottish government will be able to shape our nation’s future in ways that are more sensitive to the needs, hopes and aspirations of Scotland’s people.”

“We have the opportunity to strengthen democracy and reflect our values and priorities more effectively in developing policies that will create a more just, equal and hospitable society, get rid of nuclear weapons and, far from cutting ourselves off, enhance Scotland’s contribution to the wider community of nations.”

The Rev. Ron Ferguson explained that he changed his mind on the issue of the constitution and turned away from Unionism in recent years:

“I have changed my mind on the issue. Why? The answer is simple: A Tory UK government that brought us Margaret Thatcher and the Poll Tax and a Labour UK government that brought us the war in Iraq: not in Scotland’s name.”

 “And now I watch with dismay what a government we did not vote for is doing in terms of immigration, education, the health service, attacks on the poor, the failure to put pin-stripe fraudsters in the dock, and nuclear weapons.”

 “Here is an unpalatable truth: by 2018 we could be out of Europe, and under the jurisdiction of a UKIP-influenced Conservative government led by Boris Johnson (who doesn’t want to give Scotland any more powers). We would have more of the baleful Iain Duncan Smith, and more portentous lectures to other countries about weapons of mass destruction, while we spend even more billions on Trident.”

“Without getting carried away with ourselves, surely we can make a better fist of producing a more just and fair society than that.”

 Dave Thompson MSP, Convener of Christians for Independence, commented:

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the number Church of Scotland ministers who are backing the Yes campaign – including such high profile figures as Andrew McLellan – and it’s further confirmation that a consensus is emerging amongst all Christians across Scotland that a more socially just country is only possible with a ‘Yes’ vote on September 18th.” 

Andrew McLellan’s full statement reads:

“The worst thing in Scotland is Trident. September 18th is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to remove the worst thing in Scotland. Speaking against nuclear weapons is good, campaigning against nuclear weapons is good, and praying for their abolition is good. But what will change everything is voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum. Living in a Scotland free of nuclear weapons will make everything else better.”