Talking about politics, the subject of Scottish independence is unavoidable. Where do you stand on it?
I’ve voted Scottish National Party since I was first entitled to do so. Independence became a big issue after Maggie Thatcher brought the Poll Tax into Scotland, which was against the 1707 Act Of Union that had decreed Scotland and England could never be taxed independently. That particular injustice inspired me to write the songs Internal Exile and Big Wedge. As I’ve grown older politics really began to creep into my lyrics.
1991’s Internal Exile was your ‘Scottish’ album. Did that harm its sales?
Oh yeah, definitely. It was dismissed by a lot of radio stations for being released just before a general election. Bob Harris wouldn’t play it because he didn’t agree with its sentiments.
Going public with political views can be quite dangerous.
That’s especially true now with social media, because with one ill-advised comment you can lose swathes of your fan-base.
Do you think Scotland will vote for independence?
It’s tough to call. The ‘no’ campaign has been so negative, built upon its proponents stressing the fear factor. Although I have very strong feelings on the subject, I’m abstaining from commenting too specifically because I will be leaving the country to live in Germany [with his partner] in the not too distant future, and I don’t want to be accused of being hypocritical. But for the record, yes, I do think Scotland could work as an independent country. It could also be very positive for Britain as a whole because twin-party politics is stagnant and too London-biased. Northern England should have more of a voice, and so should the rest of the regions.
Would you ever put your money where your mouth is and stand for parliament, either in Scotland or at Westminster?
Until the German move came up, it’s something I would have considered. Though it would be tough and there would be some very severe birth pains over three or four years, I’d love to see an independent Scotland. Had I stayed here and moved towards a position of retirement from music then I might have got involved on a local level. That said, I’ve got more baggage than the average politician, which I’m very sure would be readily paraded.
Can music really change anything?
Maybe not directly so, but I believe it can be beneficial to introduce another way of looking at things without ramming anything down people’s throats.
You’re trapped on a three-man life raft with David Cameron, Nigel Farage and Ed Miliband. Food is running low and you must throw one of them off to survive. Who gets wet?
I’d probably jump in myself. With those three I couldn’t handle the conversation. None of them impresses me.