Scotland decision could ride on a lucky lottery ticket

Sep 16, 2014, 5:05 pm (11 comments)


If Scotland votes to separate from the United Kingdom on Thursday, could nationalists have a lucky lottery ticket to thank?

Three years ago, Colin Weir, a former television cameraman, and his wife, Christine, a former psychiatric nurse, were enjoying a night watching CSI on the TV. Before going to bed, Christine decided to check their lottery ticket numbers. She checked, and then checked again: the couple from the seaside Scottish town of Largs had just won the £161 million (US$261 million) EuroMillions jackpot. They stayed up all night, clutching hands and watching the sunrise. Their fortunes were forever changed.

(See Britain's record lottery winners go public, Lottery Post, July 15, 2011.)

So were the coffers of the nationalists campaigning for Scottish independence.

Shortly after they won the lottery, Colin received a letter from Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland and head of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP).

According to the Scotsman newspaper, Salmond offered his congratulations to Colin — a lifelong advocate of an independent Scotland — and reminded him of the time when they once worked on political broadcasts together.

"Dear Colin," he wrote. "When I was at the Open at Royal St. George's on Friday and heard the fantastic news that a Scot had landed the Euro lottery jackpot, I did wonder if this was the same Colin Weir who helped produce SNP party political broadcasts for a young party publicity vice-convener all these years ago".

On Monday, the Electoral Commission published figures that showed the Weirs were the biggest donors to the "Yes Scotland" campaign group over the past nine months, gifting a total of £1 million (US$1.6 million) — or 67 percent of all reportable donations over that time. (Donations or loans exceeding £7,500 (US$12,000) have to be declared by the campaign groups.)

It's not exactly clear how much money they have donated overall. Earlier this year, the Daily Telegraph estimated the figure was about £4 million (US$6.5 million).

The couple have declined media interviews, but they elaborated on their decision to donate in a letter to the Scotsman.

"As lifelong supporters of independence, it would be strange if we did not support the Yes Scotland campaign. So that is what we have done, nothing more and nothing less. No one bullied or targeted us," they wrote.

The letter continued: "The people of Scotland are not gullible. They aren't going to vote based on how much money we have given to a particular campaign — they will make their decision based on being well-informed. That's why we made the donations we did, to ensure there was the chance of an informed debate. Beyond that, it's up to the voting public to decide, not us — we only have two votes."

The Weirs' donations over the past nine months equal that of J.K. Rowling, the single largest donor to the "Better Together" campaign that supports Scotland staying in the union. The "Harry Potter" author, who has lived in Scotland for more than two decades, described her reasons for donating in a long statement, saying that if Scotland walks away "there will be no going back. This separation will not be quick and clean: it will take microsurgery to disentangle three centuries of close interdependence, after which we will have to deal with three bitter neighbours."

While the Weirs have kept a low profile over the course of the campaign, Rowling has been duelling with "Yes" supporters on Twitter, arguing "It isn't scaremongering to say 'be careful, that bridge looks like it's going to collapse'."

Washington Post, Lottery Post Staff


music*'s avatarmusic*

Freedom has cost America dearly. Now Scotland and the U.K. are peacefully deciding this difference through the ballot box. And America stays out of their business. Dance


I guess William Wallace was right after all..." They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom".

Mary Queen of Scots was executed as well, beheaded to be more exact, now they having a vote for independence? Oh what a tangled web they weave.

music*'s avatarmusic*

 I am beginning to like the Weirs now. JK Rowling is using fear as a tactic.

 When you win a large jackpot here in the USA you can expect politicians to ask for your support. And they will continue to ask for more and more Yankee dollars. Same goes for charities.


mikeintexas's avatarmikeintexas

I didn't understand this comment: Freedom has cost America dearly.   I don't know what else to say to that other than freedom isn't free.  The U.S. has, at times, spent our blood and treasure unwisely, all the while saying it was for freedom, so maybe that's what you meant.

I disagree with this comment: JK Rowling is using fear as a tactic.  I certainly didn't read it that way and I think she spoke the truth.  Personally, I don't care very much either way about the issue other than how it will affect the U.S.  The U.K.'s nuclear arsenal (on loan from the U.S.) is based in Scotland and if they vote for independence, they'll have to be moved.  Then there's the very real possibility of some severe world market tremors if "Yes" had more votes, but since I don't have a crystal ball, we'll just have to wait and see.   Ms. Rowling's comments were spot-on and I saw them as a valid caution, not fear mongering.

music*'s avatarmusic*

Yes mikeintexas, Sometimes my sentences are not clear. You are correct to say that ,"Freedom is not free". It is purchased by blood and treasure. I and we are in debt to all the generations who sacrificed for America.

  You have made your position clear and understandable. As the saying is, " This is what makes horse races." We agree to disagree . 

 I hope for the best in what ever the Scots vote for.

  This November will be America's turn at the ballot box. Peaceful disagreements.

 The celebration proceeds..Party

mikeintexas's avatarmikeintexas

Ms. Rowling, a master wordsmith, wrote about the delicate surgery that will be required to sever those bonds, but that wasn't all she wrote.  She went on to list other concerns:

I'm no fan of the current Westminster government and I couldn't be happier that devolution has protected us from what is being done to health and education south of the border. I'm also frequently irritated by a London-centric media that can be careless and dismissive in its treatment of Scotland. On the other hand, I'm mindful of the fact that when RBS needed to be bailed out, membership of the union saved us from economic catastrophe.

I came to the question of independence with an open mind and an awareness of the seriousness of what we are being asked to decide. My hesitance at embracing independence has nothing to do with lack of belief in Scotland's remarkable people or its achievements. The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same 21st-century pressures as the rest of the world.

It must compete in the same global markets, defend itself from the same threats and navigate what still feels like a fragile economic recovery. The more I listen to the yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks. Whenever the big issues are raised - our heavy reliance on oil revenue if we become independent, what currency we'll use, whether we'll get back into the EU - reasonable questions are drowned out by accusations of scaremongering. Meanwhile, dramatically differing figures and predictions are being slapped in front of us by both campaigns, so that it becomes difficult to know what to believe.

I also know that there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence and I suspect, notwithstanding the fact that I've lived in Scotland for twenty-one years and plan to remain here for the rest of my life, that they might judge me 'insufficiently Scottish' to have a valid view. On the one hand, the Yes campaign promises a fairer, greener, richer and more equal society if Scotland leaves the UK, and that sounds highly appealing.

The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities - any change brings opportunities - it also carries serious risks.

My fears about the economy extend into an area in which I have a very personal interest: Scottish medical research. Having put a large amount of money into Multiple Sclerosis research here, I was worried to see an open letter from all five of Scotland's medical schools expressing 'grave concerns' that independence could jeopardise what is currently Scotland's world-class performance in this area. Fourteen professors put their names to this letter, which says that Alex Salmond's plans for a common research funding area are 'fraught with difficulty' and 'unlikely to come to fruition'.

Ms. Rowling is progressive, politically speaking, but is conservative on this issue, at least.  One of the issues I personally find concerning is how much of the UK debt Scotland will assume, along with what currency they'll adopt.  I doubt Scotland would be accepted into the E.U. if they wanted to go that route, as I believe Spain and Belgium, both trying to fend off separatist movements, would vote to allow them in.  There's also the matter of pensions and the national health care and there's bound to be some severe disagreements over the North Sea oil and gas deposits.

I have three good online friends from Britain and I asked each one what they thought.  One didn't care - she doesn't much like Scots, having been married to an abusive man from there and told me "Good riddance to bad rubbish!", so I really didn't count her vote, being as biased as it was (she once told me Hadrian's Wall should be a thousand feet tall), but the other two are against it.  Then again, none of them get to vote on it.

Speaking of voting, I checked news reports, just like I would in a U.S. election and there's none so far and won't be until the polls close.  I think that's brilliant policy and wish we'd adopt it here in the states.  Along those lines, I think all primaries should be held on the same day and ALL results from every time zone announced at the exact same time.   I don't see it as a free speech violation, but rather one of forcing wishy-washy voters into sticking with a single choice.  There's no reason New Hampshire or other early primaries should influence the later ones.  Sure, there'd be some candidates who had wasted time and money, but as the Brits often say, "In for a penny, in for a pound!"

music*'s avatarmusic*

Thank You mikeintexas for your excellent work on many Lottery Post blogs. You are fair. I am glad that I do not have to vote in Scotland. The whole world is awaiting the results .Smash

mikeintexas's avatarmikeintexas

I like to think I'm fair.  I am biased, just like most people on various issues, but I do like to weigh the merits of both sides.  Other than my concerns I listed, I am neutral.  I hope Scotland makes a good choice, whichever one it may be.

I made a major mistake in a sentence;  I meant to say both Spain and Belgium would NOT vote to allow Scotland into the E.U.

All the votes haven't been counted yet, but early exit polls say 54% no, 46% yes

I was reading more about other separatist movements and was surprised at how many other places around the world want to separate from their country.  Quebec makes noises all the time about wanting to secede from the rest of Canada and there are always groups in various states (not just Texas) wanting to secede from the U.S.

Think's avatarThink

Well we will know soon enough if the NSDAP (National Scottish Democratic Autonomy party) will rule or if it will be London.

I really have not followed it that closely but if I were there I would vote yes simply because all that the 'no'  backers have for their arguments are fear and anxiety.   They are trying to scare people into voting 'no' which is why I would vote yes if I lived there.

mikeintexas's avatarmikeintexas

The result of the referendum was the first thing I looked for this morning and it looks like it wasn't as close as exit polls showed.  I doubt this will be the last we hear of it;  I expect that it will come up again in a few years as the older folks who voted to stay in the UK will be replaced by younger ones who wanted total independence.

So, Think, you say the No backers used fear tactics?  Do you honestly think there wasn't hyperbole on BOTH sides?  If you're honest about it, you'll have to admit that the pro-independence side exaggerated the economic benefits of a split.  For one, the thinking that the North Sea production would be an economic panacea was (and still is) a foolish idea.  The North Sea wells are at the end of their life and production levels are falling.  UK and Norway receipts fell off 40% from last year and are expected to keep falling. To counter THAT rebuttal, the pro backers said Scotland has tremendous potential for alternative energy, such as wind power.  Well, one needs only to look at Great Britain, Germany and even the U.S. to see wind energy takes tremendous subsidies from the govt. to survive and it will take some fantastic technological advancements - and tons more investments - to thrive. I doubt Scotland can do any better.

The pro crowd also conveniently forgot to mention that Scottish banks wouldn't get bailed out in any future crisis as they did a few years ago.  I doubt the British people would want to help out people who want nothing to do with them.   (who gives money to beggars on the street who curse and spit at them?)

There are other economic reasons to keep the union, but face it, Scotland can't survive totally on Scotch whisky exports.

Emotionally and in my heart, I am for any place that desires independence.  I, along with most other Texans I believe, consider ourselves to be Texans first, Americans second.  That doesn't make us any less patriotic or have less love for the U.S., it's just that we believe that State's Rights trumps all but a few Federal laws. (and not just for us, but for any other state in the Union) That said, intellectually and pragmatically, I know Scot independence would be disastrous, at least at this point in time.

music*'s avatarmusic*

I am happy to see Scotland voters decide their future.  Thank You mikeintexas for your cogent and fair analysis and up to date arguments .  People Power rules. US FlagParty

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