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.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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All the Premiership teams are competing to see who’s got the biggest stadium

It’s not just a financial, but a macho thing – the big clubs want to show off that they have a whopper.

Here in NW5, where we live noisily and fashionably, we are roughly equidistant from Arsenal and Spurs. We bought the house in 1963 for £5,000, which I mention constantly, to make everyone in the street pig sick. Back in 1963, we lived quietly and unfashionably; in fact, we could easily have been living in Loughton, Essex. Now it’s all changed. As have White Hart Lane and Highbury.

Both grounds are a few metres further away from us than they once were, or they will be when White Hart Lane is finished. The new stadium is a few metres to the north, while the Emirates is a few metres to the east.

Why am I saying metres? Like all football fans, I say a near-miss on goal was inches wide, a slow striker is a yard off his pace, and a ball player can turn on a sixpence. That’s more like it.

White Hart Lane, when finished, will hold 61,000 – a thousand more than the Emirates, har har. Meanwhile, Man City is still expanding, and will also hold about 60,000 by the time Pep Guardiola is into his stride. Chelsea will be next, when they get themselves sorted. So will Liverpool.

Man United’s Old Trafford can now hold over 75,000. Fair makes you proud to be alive at this time and enjoying the wonders of the Prem.

Then, of course, we have the New Wembley, architecturally wonderful, striking and stunning, a beacon of beauty for miles around. As they all are, these brave new stadiums. (No one says “stadia” in real life.)

The old stadiums, built between the wars, many of them by the Scottish architect Archibald Leitch (1865-1939), were also seen as wonders of the time, and all of them held far more than their modern counterparts. The record crowd at White Hart Lane was in 1938, when 75,038 came to see Spurs play Sunderland. Arsenal’s record at Highbury was also against Sunderland – in 1935, with 73,295. Wembley, which today can hold 90,000, had an official figure of 126,000 for the first Cup Final in 1923, but the true figure was at least 150,000, because so many broke in.

Back in 1901, when the Cup Final was held at Crystal Palace between Spurs and Sheffield United, there was a crowd of 110,820. Looking at old photos of the Crystal Palace finals, a lot of the ground seems to have been a grassy mound. Hard to believe fans could see.

Between the wars, thanks to Leitch, big clubs did have proper covered stands. Most fans stood on huge open concrete terraces, which remained till the 1990s. There were metal barriers, which were supposed to hold back sudden surges, but rarely did, so if you were caught in a surge, you were swept away or you fell over. Kids were hoisted over the adults’ heads and plonked at the front.

Getting refreshments was almost impossible, unless you caught the eye of a peanut seller who’d lob you a paper bag of Percy Dalton’s. Getting out for a pee was just as hard. You often came home with the back of your trousers soaked.

I used to be an expert on crowds as a lad. Rubbish on identifying a Spitfire from a Hurricane, but shit hot on match gates at Hampden Park and Ibrox. Answer: well over 100,000. Today’s new stadiums will never hold as many, but will cost trillions more. The money is coming from the £8bn that the Prem is getting from TV for three years.

You’d imagine that, with all this money flooding in, the clubs would be kinder to their fans, but no, they’re lashing out, and not just on new stadiums, but players and wages, directors and agents. Hence, so they say, they are having to put up ticket prices, causing protest campaigns at Arsenal and Liverpool. Arsène at Arsenal has admitted that he couldn’t afford to buy while the Emirates was being built. Pochettino is saying much the same at Spurs.

It’s not just a financial, but a macho thing – the big clubs want to show off that they have a whopper. In the end, only rich fans will be able to attend these supergrounds. Chelsea plans to have a private swimming pool under each new box, plus a wine cellar. Just like our street, really . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle