By G.A.Ponsonby

An academic who joined the Better Together campaign in 2012 has claimed that people who vote Yes do so because they are not as educated as their No voting counterparts.

Jill Stephenson, who is a Professor Emerita in Modern German History, made the claim on social media site Twitter.

The academic, who is a prominent No activist, had previously accused Yes supporters of being less intelligent.  However after facing demands that she apologise, the academic tweeted:

“I apologise unreservedly for using the term ‘less bright’ about yes voters. The point about a tendency to be ‘less well-educated’ remains.”

Stephenson’s remarks have led to outrage on social media with Yes supporters angry at the slur.

Several responses demanded the academic apologise, whilst others asked the No campaigner if she had any evidence to support her claims.

“I ask again Professor, is there anything that backs this claim? Is there any correlation between voter intent and education?” said one tweet.

Stephenson joined Better Together in 2012 and attended their inaugural meeting in Edinburgh.  The academic also attended the inaugural meeting of Better Together Academics in Edinburgh in January 2014.

The row comes days after a Labour party candidate suggested Yes supporters were indoctrinating youngsters in a similar manner to that used by the Nazis in 1930s Germany.

Kathy Wiles, resigned as the Labour party Westminster candidate for Angus, after posting an image of German youngsters gathered under a Nazi banner.  The image was an attempt to suggest that youngsters at a pro-Yes event were being indoctrinated in a similar manner to that which led to the creation of the Hitler Youth movement in Nazi Germany.

The claims by Stephenson are the latest in a series of offensive messages and comments made by leading members of the anti-independence campaign.

Better Together leader Alistair Darling recently compared First Minister Alex Salmond to late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.  Mr Darling also expressed agreement when asked if the SNP was based on “blood and soil nationalism”, a slogan from 1930s Nazi Germany.


2014-07-04 07:01

The irony is that Jill’s comments are not very bright.
2014-07-04 07:24

Why do unionists always feel the need to talk Scotland down ?
Is it an attempt to justify to themselves some need for the UK ?
Is it a contempt for their fellow citizens ?
What drives their hate ?
Is it a realisation that the ‘settled’ World order, the hierarchy they benefited from, hoped & believed in, has crumbled as all Empires crumble ?
Do they need to maintain the fiction in order to avoid asking if they have been duped all along ?
2014-07-04 07:25

Less well educated???
But hey, we’re just the Proles. The Thought Police will be moving amongst us, spreading false rumours, and marking down or eliminating the few of us judged capable of becoming dangerous.
Heads up Better Together, we may or may not be less well educated, but at least we’ve read Orwell’s 1984.
Perhaps citizen Stephenson with her superior education can explain the positive arguments for the Union to a thicko like me.
…. Whenever you’re ready.
2014-07-04 07:41

She can’t even explain them to herself I think. That’s why she lashes out. The union has never been questioned before, it was taken for granted. Nobody ever asked ‘why have a union’ ?
Now that we do, now that we have removed its pompous cloak of superiority, we see it is possible to progress without the union.

2014-07-04 07:31

So Yes voters are less well educated? That’s a bit rich coming from the group who count Shrek as one of their followers…
2014-07-04 07:49

How does she measure this? What are the criteria? less intelligent than what and whom? The British state is resurrecting WWIⅈ style Black Propaganda in dealing with what it considers an “enemy”. Statements like this are typically quasi-racist in import and intermesh with a feed of similar comments about Scots being systemically deficient in the capacity to run their own country without turning the whole place into a model of autocratic, third-world incompetency. If a statement of this order had been made by a Yes campaigner concerning the profile of the likely no voter the media would have errupted in consternation. o
2014-07-04 12:29

erupted…..wouldn’t want the Prof to think I can’t spell.

2014-07-04 08:08

Disgraceful comment from someone who knows better but for whatever reason is trying it on – bitterness perhaps?
Wonderful example of intellect last night on Scotland 2014 when the NO man was complaining of intimidation of companies who declare for NO. I ask you, if you are selling a branded product in a country where 40% favour YES and 60% favour NO would you be silly enough to declare for either side? Or would you use your common sense and remain neutral?
Me – I am drinking IRN BRU.
2014-07-04 08:19

Maybe I am not the best educated leaving school at 15yrs but I have seen life and consider myself to be a good judge of what I hear from some of these well educated clowns who have never lived in the real world.Two headlines I saw this week can maybe explain what I mean.

Wife of former Putin minister buys game of tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson for £160,000

Syria conflict: UK planned to train and equip 100,000 rebels
2014-07-04 08:19

Govanite – spot on. Ms Stephenson needs to justify herself being in the UK because she feels she is really not good enough to be one of them. Very sad individual!
2014-07-04 08:32

Apparently we are nasty fascists too – seems the Labour Party cannot contain its idiocy.
Would this eminent professor care to comment on the IQ of the chairperson of Moray Labour party and obviously a colleague in better Together?
2014-07-04 08:53

Her comments tell you nothing about Yes voters but everything about her!!
2014-07-04 08:58

But far better informed about the referendum hence they are YES voters.

Ask any No voter why they are voting that way and they quote scare stories from the media. Does that mean No voters are more gullible?
2014-07-04 09:09

I am getting fair sick of being insulted by both opposition leadership and their support.

So far we’ve been compared to despotic genocidal totalitarian movements, a virus, a subsidy based sumthin’ fur nuthin’ cultyur and now we’re simply thick.

This isn’t politics, its playground insult. Pathetic, childish, useless and worst of all, perhaps most ironic of all, socially divisive, irresponsible and dangerous. If ever there was any evidence required as to why these people are no longer fit to hold office or represent the people, this campaign has provided it and then some.

If you cannot care for all the people in your charge, you are not fit to care for any.
2014-07-04 09:29

To be fair to her, it would be rather strange if the decades of lovingly crafting our tertiary education system by the Brit establishment were fruitless.

The ‘realignment’ of swathes of academia, most notably, History, Journalism, Politics,Social Science and Economics in our universities and colleges has been palpable.

Not so much, perhaps, in the genuine scientific disciplines, but then again, good critical analytical skills are a prerequisite in those instances.
2014-07-04 09:31

There is a really sinister side to Ms Stephenson’s comments and the way in which she has defended herself. It is not the argument about whether she is right or not, it is the underlying assumption that only educated people are entitled to democracy and the right to decide how and by whom they are governed.
Jacque De Molay
2014-07-04 09:34

She has changed the slur “to less well educated”.

What data is that based on?

I have an Engineering Degree does that count? Perhaps educated is not academic only but demonstrated by leadership, influence gained from respect.

Anyone who thinks an academic attainment improves their capicity to assess a political or social situation is a fool.

Does a person with a degree have a greater ability to debate social welfare than the man who runs the foodbank in Maryhill – I don’t think so.

The evidence presented at Holyrood by people at the front end influences my vote far more than any academic or politician at present.

Perhaps it is time we started listening to the people on the ground who are trying to mitigate the disaster caused by Westminster.

Action not Words.
Red Squirrel
2014-07-04 09:38

Show us the peer-reviewed research to support your hypothesis Professor. Otherwise this is just another way of saying too wee, too poor, too stupid and frankly I’ve been insulted by more impressively qualified individuals.
2014-07-04 09:43

Yes Govanite. Today witnesses the death throes of that ‘Crumbling empire’ in the Queen’s launching of an impotent warship – an aircraft carrier with no planes.
And we are supposed to respect the intelligence of the unionists who proposed the building of this expensive white elephant.
I would encourage every thick person in Scotland to vote YES to spite this arrogant unionist. Fortunately thick people have the same rights as bright ones. We can’t all be academics – some of us have useful jobs.
2014-07-04 09:47

A common trait among those who identify with the British establishment is arrogance.
This is not new but one would have hoped that these people would have realised by now that this does not endear themselves to others.
In the days of empire,this attitude prevailed because it was backed by military power and if the uneducated natives didn’t do as they were told the military would enforce the London view.
I think what she probably meant was that the professional middle classes are more likely to be No voters because they are doing OK under London rule but that isn’t how it comes across.
2014-07-04 09:57

So the unionists think the yes voter is less educated….Astounding comment when consider the the orange lodge is voting NO. I rest my case!
2014-07-04 10:04

Stephen Miller BA(Hons) Open,DipClassSt  ud,DipEurHum FSASCot. Now Im not boasting I am simply pointing out that with 35 letters after my name, I am voting YES.
2014-07-04 10:15

“I think what she probably meant was that the professional middle classes are more likely to be No voters because they are doing OK under London rule but that isn’t how it comes across.”

That crossed my mind, but I suggest that it may also have been an indictment, intentional or otherwise, of the political ‘cleansing’ of academia which the Establishment is able to bring about through a system of appointment, tenure and funding.

I do not believe that ‘academic freedom’ exists any more these days than does ‘press freedom’, such is the morally bankrupt, spin-obsessed culture of our ruling ‘elite’
2014-07-04 10:43

As a past student of Jill Stephenson, I can confirm that she taught that every political statement carries an ideological subtext. Hence what she is actually saying is that “less well educated” people’s opinions are less important, less valid than those of people like her. Consequently their political views and votes are of less value. People intending to vote Yes are misguided gullible fools, like Egyptians who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood or Germans who backed the National Socialist Party in the early 1930s. Apart from the anti-democratic implications and the intellectual snobbery inherent in her statement, her comment gives aid and comfort to those No supporters who are far more intolerant and abusive than she is by bolstering the idea of a blind, dumb Scottish nationalism.
Doctor John
2014-07-04 11:13

She’s an expert on nazi Germany only
emeritus means retired
2014-07-04 11:21

We aw ken whit happened tae Better Thegither in 1314.
2014-07-04 11:27

My First Class Honours degree is voting YES.
2014-07-04 11:41

Stephen, like wise although it took me a few year and a bit to get there through hard graft at day release and night school. NTC III Mech.Eng.; NVQ II Inf. Tech.; HNC Comp Science.; HNC CADD.; HND CADD.; HNC Civ.Eng. Educated I am maybe, stupid I certainly am not. Yes is the only answer for Scotland to alleviate the suffering caused by successive failed Westminster regimes.
2014-07-04 11:42

Re a comment about the aircraft carriers; I read somewhere that there are no aircraft carriers in the Royal Navy at present.
Is this a fact?
walter scott
2014-07-04 12:19

Reminds me of the Soviet Union. Question the intelligence of those who don’t follow the thinking of the State
2014-07-04 12:20

just shows how unionists view Scotland –too poor —too stupid
2014-07-04 12:58

Does this arrogant patronising creature believe that those like myself who, while maybe not having a tertiary qualification, managed to get 4 Highers in the 50s when Physics and Chemistry only counted as 1 Higher,are less well-educated than the Project Smear cretins who excrete their nonsense in the Comments in The Scotsman and the Racist and Xenopohobic London blats – you know which ones I refer to.

On another tack I see from today’s Daily Record that Project Fear & Smear have got their pals at MI5 to press the button to reactivate the Scotttish National Liberation Army.

I wondered at what point in their increasing desperation they would resort to that one – it was always on the cards – get ready for death threats, suspicious packages, even bombs and possible assassination attempts as we get nearer to 18/9.

There is no depth to which Perfidious Albion will not descend to maintain their grasp on power and their ability to drain Scotland’s riches.
2014-07-04 15:05

As a former student of Jill Stephenson, I can confirm she taught that all political statements contain an ideological element. Therefore what she is saying is that “less well educated” people’s opinions are not as important as those of people like herself. By extension their political views and votes are really a bit of a nuisance. Those of us who are going to vote Yes are misguided gullible fools, rather like those Egyptians who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood or Germans who backed the National Socialist Party in the early 1930s. Apart from the anti-democratic implications and the intellectual snobbery inherent in her statement, her comment gives aid and comfort to those No supporters who are far more intolerant and abusive than she by bolstering the idea of a blind, dumb Scottish nationalism.
2014-07-04 15:10

Perhaps Prof. Stephenson just wanted to rectify a crucial oversight noted by Academics for Yes:

“We read with disappointment a letter in the Herald from some academics opposed to independence. It is from the ‘too wee, too poor’ template but, at least, it avoids ‘too stupit’, which normally completes the triptych.”…/
2014-07-04 16:42

This Professor doesn’t seem short of stupid things to say. In fact I’ve only ever read stupid things from her. Please don’t direct me to her academic work as I fear for the veracity of historic accounts in this Professor’s hands.
2014-07-04 18:16

The Prof doesn’t seem too bright when you look at what she tweets. Does she mean it or does she do it to be popular with her Better Together? No Thanks peers. Whatever way, she certainly lacks professionalism  .

@bringiton suggests that “I think what she probably meant was that the professional middle classes are more likely to be No voters because they are doing OK under London rule but that isn’t how it comes across.”

I don’t think so. I’ve seen a tweet of hers with the hashtag #numpties

She’s a pathetic creature best ignored.
2014-07-04 21:50

Information (via education for example) is NOT Intelligence.

Intelligence is the use of information not the amassing of it. We can be highly intelligent but not have a degree or even Highers/A Levels.

Richard Branson is an excellent example. Presumably the lady is referring to the fact that YES has a far greater support among those without degrees than the NO Campaign.

But clearly that is evidence of the fact that they have the intelligence to see through the lies and distortions and chose YES!

Alien Act
2014-07-04 22:50

I always knew I was too stupid and not genetically programmed to make these political decisions on my own.

I did come across this article in the papers a few weeks back though, someone must be wrong.…/…
2014-07-05 13:32

If you look at the Scottish Social Attitudes survey then there is actually a grain of truth to this. If you break responses to “how should Scotland be governed” down by education then proportionally fewer people with a degree support independence than those without a degree. In the highest educated group around 22% support independence, while in all of the other education groups (below degree level) the support for independence is higher.

However that isn’t an excuse to make rather unpleasant comments about Yes supporters or claim that people only support independence out of ignorance. It’s obviously possible for someone with a degree to support independence for legitimate reasons, it’s simply that this seems to be more common among people who don’t have degrees (for whatever reason).

Figures are available here:…/…

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