Letter to London Evening Standard publicising the Reigate Declaration, 2 July 2014

Dear Sir/Madam

I am English and live in England.  I have Scottish family and once lived for several years in Scotland.  When I first realised that support for independence in Scotland was getting really big, I was indignant with the Scots.  I felt a sense of betrayal and that they were being ungrateful after so many years of being united.  So I got up to speed with the issues.   Over time, my feelings subsided and I started to see where the pro-independence Scots were coming from.  It’s not personal against the English. They just want to have political independence like most countries in the world. 

Also, most Scots don’t see eye to eye with recent governments on major issues affecting the whole of the UK or on the UK’s foreign and defence policies.   The “Yes” campaign has done its sums.  It believes that Scotland can stand on their own two feet, and support their own vulnerable and poor people.  As a nation in their own right, they have every right to go their own way if it wants, even if we in England don’t think it’s a good idea.

Our own government and Labour  are doing their best to persuade Scots to stay in the UK.  But I don’t believe they are going about this honourably or in England’s best interests.  David Cameron has tried to get foreign leaders to support the union.  Politicians suggest that Scottish independence could put a stop to all sorts of joint enterprises and result in negative consequences for Scotland.  They  talk unhelpfully of “separation”. 

None of us can deny that sorting out independence will be a long and complicated process.  Sometimes democracy costs a lot of effort.  But it is in the interests of all of us in England to retain friendly and co-operative relations with Scotland, whatever our private feelings about independence may be.  Many jobs in England depend on Scotland and vice versa.  There is no reason why current cross-border projects such as medical research, transport infrastructure and institutions like the BBC can’t continue in a new form.  We work successfully with other countries all the time – look at the Channel Tunnel.  Yes, we will all have to look at the funding and the practical issues. But where there is a will, there is a way.     

We can’t afford to have our politicians getting upset with Scotland and taking a tough line if they vote for independence.   If they do, we can expect the same treatment back and our own businesses and people will suffer, not the politicians.  So if the Scots vote for independence, let’s not be bitter about it or look to get our own back.  Our 307-year shared history should count for something.  Rather, let us English give the Scots our blessing.  They don’t need it but they might appreciate it and it would stand us in good stead in the years ahead. 

With this in mind, I have drafted what I have called the “Reigate Declaration” (below), which sets out the terms of a positive relationship between the peoples of England and Scotland.   Readers can comment on it and agree to it (or disagree) in a poll at the bottom of my blog page:


Yours faithfully    

James Campbell


The Reigate Declaration


wish to show our friendship and respect for the people of Scotland as they prepare to decide whether or not Scotland will become an independent country. 

With this in mind, we DECLARE the following:

  1. We affirm the right of every people or nation, including the people of Scotland, to self-determination, and if they so choose, to govern themselves as an independent state.


  1. We do not wish to be united to any nation where the majority of its people oppose or resent this union. We do not wish to be in a union with Scotland if the relationship between our nations is characterised by long-term tensions, mistrust and deadlocked views on major policies. 


  1. We will respect a decision of the people of Scotland in favour of their own independence, without bitterness or anger.


  1. We object to any efforts by our political leaders to use their position to campaign for a “no” vote.  In particular, we object to :

 a. Using taxpayer’s money to fund advertising

b. Efforts to enlist the support of political figures from other countries

c. Emotional blackmail

d. Veiled threats of negative consequences for Scotland if there is a “yes” vote.

  1. In the event of a “yes” vote, we urge our political leaders to work with the leaders of Scotland in a spirit of co-operation and goodwill to ensure a smooth transition to independence. 


  1. We are grateful to the people of Scotland for their membership of the United Kingdom for the last 307 years.  In particular:


a. We will be forever grateful to the servicemen and women of Scotland who have served the United Kingdom in war and peace, and especially to those who have lost their lives as a result; may they never be forgotten;

 b. We are grateful for the contribution of the people of Scotland to our prosperity;

c. We are grateful for their contributions to the arts, sciences,  academic life, and political life of our nation;

 d. We are grateful for the families and personal friendships that have formed  as a result of the union and links between our nations.


  1. We will not treat Scottish people living in England any differently whatever the outcome of the referendum may be.  We call upon the people of Scotland to do the same in respect of English people living in Scotland.


  1. In the event of a “yes” vote, we look forward to the friendship between our nations continuing in a spirit of freedom, equality, mutual respect and collaboration, in every area of life – personal, social, cultural, economic, and political.

17 thoughts on “Letter to London Evening Standard publicising the Reigate Declaration, 2 July 2014

  1. James, just when I thought nobody in England understood the reasoning behind the Yes movement (admittedly based on the rather bitter output of the English press) you have summed up my feelings in the most eloquent way.

    I love England and the English and I will be British till I die, because I live in the northern part of Great Britain and have more in common culturally with the people of these isles than anyone else. Politically though we are divergent. We have proportional representation for the Scottish Parliament and we like it; if anything it has shown the inadequacies and need for reform of the Westminster Parliament. The Yes movement is one of increased democracy and accountability, not of ethnic or cultural self-interest. This is a civic movement, which is why anyone who lives here has a vote, wherever their place of birth. Expatriate Scots don’t.

    At heart I am a federalist and want better for England too. I feel the only way to achieve this is by voting for independence. I wholeheartedly believe that a No vote is a green light for UK parties to carry on with their neoliberal experiments. The way they wield their power over the electorate is akin to a cruel kid who picks the wings and legs off insects to see how much they can take before they expire. England, I am sure, will seek change if Scotland votes Yes.

    There is a rebirth of participative democracy in Scotland and the only ones not convinced are those content to have their views spoon-fed to them by political elites and the British press. The only way for the Yes campaign to get its views across are online; mass media is predominantly and unashamedly unionist and doesn’t seem to care that it doesn’t represent the views of 40% or upwards of the current Scottish electorate. Better Together are pulling out of public meetings at short notice causing some to be cancelled. They stifle debate by not taking part in it. They are running scared because in virtually every public forum the Yes campaign gains ground when before and after debate polls are collated. I’ve yet to see one where the No campaign has gained support after a debate.

    Thanks you James and kind thoughts to all people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Just remember that what you read about “vile cybernats” in the press is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

  2. Well here here from me, that is a well thought out letter. I was brought down to Suffolk at the age of 4 with me dad getting a Suffolk posting with RAF in the early 70’s. I’ve made a living down here & am often back off up north to visit family and friends, I also travel around different parts of Scotland as well as I have in England in the past. I do get defensive down here wen the typical English men slag off Scotland as I am Scottish and proud. The way the Westminster government has been portraying the indiref is pretty poor and they seem blind for England’s interests more than wat the real issue is. I am in favour of our independence so we can run our country the way we want to & Mr Cameron etc makes me want to sell up and leave England pretty much now. I did want to pay my mortgage off first & retire back in Scotland.

    • Thanks Angus. I liked your post. Yes, some English people think it’s funny to be disrespectful to Scots. I think it’s quite deep-rooted. I am sorry you have to put up with it. I know about it first hand from my own Scots relatives in England. Hopefully an independent Scotland will command respect over time and this kind of disrespect will disappear. We’ll have to see.

      I’m brewing a new post along the lines of “10 ways to win over the English to accepting Scottish independence amicably”. If you have any thoughts, they would be appreciated. Kind regards James

  3. James, that brought a tear to my eye. I commend you for your eloquence, respect, and dignity. I, for one, also wish the very best for the people of England, Wales, and NI. I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of a fairer & brighter future for us all.

    From one Scot to an English friend – I thank you Sir!

  4. As I was born in Scotland I consider myself a Scot an always correct people who call me English. I didn’t really understand the whole independence thing but after reading your letter, I have more understanding and sympathy. So thank you for that. I too will be gently vocal in my support for a yes vote.

  5. Who gives a monkeys!! Your nationality is a result of the lottery of birth,, why is it that humans have this inner driving desire to create devision. To belong
    To a tribe, so we can pick on those who are not in our gang.
    When will we ever learn??

    • Thank-you for giving enough of a monkeys to read my article. From your response, I am not sure if you are really interested in debating the issues, but I’ll give it a go. I agree that nationality is a lottery of birth, but that it has consequences for the way in which we think and feel about ourselves and other nations, and this is worth exploring. I think a healthy national identity is one in which you are proud of what unites you to your compatriots, and you are open to respectful dialogue with other nationalities. This is the middle of the spectrum. On either extreme are xenophobia and a repression of one’s own nationality. Neither is healthy and will have negative consequences. I am interested in promoting a healthy relationship between English and Scottish people, especially in the light of the Scottish referendum, which brings up so many complicated feelings for us all.

      • Don’t think I am sharp enough to reply ., sorry.
        I am half Scottish and half English. In the lottery of life by being born in the Uk I feel I won the double roll over.
        Rather than celebrating all out wonderful opportunities and the joys of togetherness we seek out our differences. I think we should all have a stint in Africa or India to remind us how fortunate we all are.

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