Tom Daley is one of 200 public figures to support a "No" vote in Scotland. Photo: Getty
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Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough and Tom Daley among 200 famous faces calling for a Scotland No vote

Two hundred public figures have signed an open letter addressed to the people of Scotland, calling on them to vote "No" in the independence referendum.

There could now be a new breed of celebrity: the “No-list”. Because 200 public figures – including the Olympic diver Tom Daley, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, physicist Stephen Hawking, broadcaster David Attenborough, actor Judi Dench, classicist Mary Beard and the journalists Jemima Khan and Mehdi Hasan – have signed an open letter imploring the people of Scotland to stay in the union.

Other well-known names who have signed the letter include the actor Helena Bonham-Carter, musician Sting, authors William Boyd, William Dalrymple and Malorie Blackman, comedians Jo Brand, Robert Webb and Steve Coogan, and the artist Tracey Emin.

The wide range of signatories on the letter, from Nobel prize winners to Turner prize winners, is a big boost to the Better Together campaign as it fights the battle against independence in the last weeks leading up to the referendum on 18 September.

Here's the letter:

Dear Voters of Scotland,
 
The decision on whether to leave our shared country is, of course, absolutely yours alone. Nevertheless, that decision will have a huge effect on all of us, Scots and non-Scots, in the rest of the United Kingdom. We want to let you know how very much we value our bonds of citizenship with you, and to express our hope that you will vote to renew them. What unites us is much greater than what divides us. Let’s stay together.
 
Yours,

William Dalrymple
Eddie Izzard
Sir Patrick Stewart
Sir Bruce Forsyth
Sir Mick Jagger
Stephen Hawking
Jenny Agutter
Sir Ben Ainslie
Kriss Akabusi
Roger Allam
Kirstie Allsop
Alexander Armstrong
Sir David Attenborough
Steve Backley
Baroness Joan Bakewell
Frances Barber
Andy Barrow
John Barrowman
Mike Batt
Glen Baxter
David Aaronovitch
Helena Bonham-Carter
Stanley Baxter
Martin Bayfield
Mary Beard
Sarah Beeny
Anthony Beevor
Angelica Bell
Dickie Bird
Cilla Black
Graeme Black
Roger Black
Malorie Blackman
Ranjit Bolt
Alain de Botton
William Boyd
Tracey Brabin
Lord Melvyn Bragg
Jo Brand
Gyles Brandreth
Rob Brydon
Louisa Buck
Simon Callow
Will Carling
Paul Cartledge
Guy Chambers
Nick Cohen
Michelle Collins
Colonel Tim Collins
Olivia Colman
Charlie Condou
Susannah Constantine
Steve Coogan
Dominic Cooper
Ronnie Corbett
Simon Cowell
Jason Cowley
Sara Cox
Amanda Craig
Steve Cram
Richard Curtis
Tom Daley
Richard Dawkins
Dame Judi Dench
Jeremy Deller
Lord Michael Dobbs
Jimmy Doherty
Michael Douglas
Simon Easterby
Gareth Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
Tracey Emin
Sebastian Faulks
Bryan Ferry
Ranulph Fiennes
Ben Fogle
Amanda Foreman
Neil Fox
Emma Freud
Bernard Gallacher
Kirsty Gallacher
George Galloway
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Bamber Gascoigne
David Gilmour
Harvey Goldsmith
David Goodhart
Lachlan Goudie
David Gower
AC Grayling
Will Greenwood
Tamsin Greig
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
Lord Charles Guthrie
Haydn Gwynne
Maggi Hambling
Mehdi Hasan
Sir Max Hastings
Peter Hennessy
James Holland
Tom Holland
Tom Hollander
Gloria Hunniford
Conn Iggledun
John Illsley
Brendan Ingle
Betty Jackson
Sir Mike Jackson
Howard Jacobson
Baroness PD James
Griff Rhys Jones
Terry Jones
Christopher Kane
Sir Anish Kapoor
Ross Kemp
Paul Kenny
Jemima Khan
India Knight
Martha Lane Fox
Baroness Doreen Lawrence
Tory Lawrence
Kathy Lette
Rod Liddle
Louise Linton
John Lloyd (journalist)
John Lloyd (producer)
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber
Gabby Logan
Kenny Logan
Sarah Lucas
Dame Vera Lynn
James May
Margaret MacMillan
Stephen Mangan
Davina McCall
Sir Ian McGeechan
Heather McGregor
Andy McNab
John Michie
David Mitchell
Lord John Monks
Lewis Moody
Michael Morpurgo
Bill Morris
David Morrissey
Philip Mould
Al Murray
Neil Stuke
Sir Paul Nurse
Andy Nyman
Peter Oborne
Sir Michael Parkinson
Fiona Phillips
Andy Puddicombe
Lord David Puttnam
Anita Rani
Esther Rantzen
Sir Steve Redgrave
Derek Redmond
Pete Reed
Lord Martin Rees
Peter Reid
Baroness Ruth Rendell
Sir Cliff Richard
Hugo Rifkind
Sir Tony Robinson
David Rowntree
Ian Rush
Greg Rutherford
CJ Sansom
June Sarpong
Simon Schama
John Sessions
Sandie Shaw
Helen Skelton
Sir Tim Smit
Dan Snow
Peter Snow
Phil Spencer
David Starkey
Lord Jock Stirrup
Neil Stuke
Sting
Tallia Storm
David Suchet
Alan Sugar
Graeme Swann
Stella Tennant
Daley Thompson
Alan Titchmarsh
James Timpson
Kevin Toolis
Lynne Truss
Gavin Turk
Roger Uttley
David Walliams
Zoë Wanamaker
Robert Webb
Richard Wentworth
Sir Alan West
Dominic West
Kevin Whateley

 

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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Labour's establishment suspects a Momentum conspiracy - they're right

Bernie Sanders-style organisers are determined to rewire the party's machine.  

If you wanted to understand the basic dynamics of this year’s Labour leadership contest, Brighton and Hove District Labour Party is a good microcosm. On Saturday 9 July, a day before Angela Eagle was to announce her leadership bid, hundreds of members flooded into its AGM. Despite the room having a capacity of over 250, the meeting had to be held in three batches, with members forming an orderly queue. The result of the massive turnout was clear in political terms – pro-Corbyn candidates won every position on the local executive committee. 

Many in the room hailed the turnout and the result. But others claimed that some in the crowd had engaged in abuse and harassment.The national party decided that, rather than first investigate individuals, it would suspend Brighton and Hove. Add this to the national ban on local meetings and events during the leadership election, and it is easy to see why Labour seems to have an uneasy relationship with mass politics. To put it a less neutral way, the party machine is in a state of open warfare against Corbyn and his supporters.

Brighton and Hove illustrates how local activists have continued to organise – in an even more innovative and effective way than before. On Thursday 21 July, the week following the CLP’s suspension, the local Momentum group organised a mass meeting. More than 200 people showed up, with the mood defiant and pumped up.  Rather than listen to speeches, the room then became a road test for a new "campaign meetup", a more modestly titled version of the "barnstorms" used by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Activists broke up into small groups to discuss the strategy of the campaign and then even smaller groups to organise action on a very local level. By the end of the night, 20 phonebanking sessions had been planned at a branch level over the following week. 

In the past, organising inside the Labour Party was seen as a slightly cloak and dagger affair. When the Labour Party bureaucracy expelled leftwing activists in past decades, many on went further underground, organising in semi-secrecy. Now, Momentum is doing the exact opposite. 

The emphasis of the Corbyn campaign is on making its strategy, volunteer hubs and events listings as open and accessible as possible. Interactive maps will allow local activists to advertise hundreds of events, and then contact people in their area. When they gather to phonebank in they will be using a custom-built web app which will enable tens of thousands of callers to ring hundreds of thousands of numbers, from wherever they are.

As Momentum has learned to its cost, there is a trade-off between a campaign’s openness and its ability to stage manage events. But in the new politics of the Labour party, in which both the numbers of interested people and the capacity to connect with them directly are increasing exponentially, there is simply no contest. In order to win the next general election, Labour will have to master these tactics on a much bigger scale. The leadership election is the road test. 

Even many moderates seem to accept that the days of simply triangulating towards the centre and getting cozy with the Murdoch press are over. Labour needs to reach people and communities directly with an ambitious digital strategy and an army of self-organising activists. It is this kind of mass politics that delivered a "no" vote in Greece’s referendum on the terms of the Eurozone bailout last summer – defying pretty much the whole of the media, business and political establishment. 

The problem for Corbyn's challenger, Owen Smith, is that many of his backers have an open problem with this type of mass politics. Rather than investigate allegations of abuse, they have supported the suspension of CLPs. Rather than seeing the heightened emotions that come with mass mobilisations as side-effects which needs to be controlled, they have sought to joins unconnected acts of harassment, in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn. The MP Ben Bradshaw has even seemed to accuse Momentum of organising a conspiracy to physically attack Labour MPs.

The real conspiracy is much bigger than that. Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving, enthusiastic and determined, into the Labour party. These people, and their ability to convince the communities of which they are a part, threaten Britain’s political equilibrium, both the Conservatives and the Labour establishment. When the greatest hope for Labour becomes your greatest nightmare, you have good call to feel alarmed.