COMEDIAN Billy Connolly has emerged as Scottish Labour’s secret weapon in the battle to save the union.
Tom Harris, a leadership candidate for the party, says the Big Yin is a “hero” and the man to stop Wee Eck – more formally known as First Minister Alex Salmond – leading Scotland to independence.
Mr Harris, a former transport minister, said if he won the leader’s job he hoped to recruit Mr Connolly.
He said: “My preference for the person to be the figurehead for the anti-independence campaign would be Billy Connolly.
“He is a hero and nobody could ever accuse him of being anything less than 100% Scottish.
“I know that he is a supporter of the union and nobody in Scotland could say a bad word about him.
“I’ve spoken to a few people to suggest this. Everybody thinks it’s a great idea.”
He added: “At present we are the gift that keeps giving as far as the SNP is concerned. I would happily approach him myself. I hope that whoever becomes leader of the Labour party in Scotland will make an approach to him.”
Mr Connolly has not so far commented on the suggestion that could help see off Salmond.
But the comedian has been vehement in his criticism of nationalism, once comparing the SNP with the Nazis and even criticising Holyrood itself as a “wee pretendy parliament”.
And in a jibe at the expat status of the SNP’s biggest celebrity supporter, he said: “[Sean] Connery couldn’t find his way to Scotland in a taxi.
“I hate nationalism. If you look at the history of nationalism, you will find the history of war and horror.
“It is all based on the belief that, because you were born on that bit of planet, you are imbued with certain talents and gifts. It is nonsense. I am a citizen of the world and I like it that way.”
An SNP spokesman today accused Mr Harris of taking Billy Connolly’s name in vain.
He described Mr Connolly as a “truly great Scot, and a fantastic comedian and actor.”
But he added: “At this stage Labour’s phantom leadership election is getting lots of laughs in Scotland.
“Tom Harris would be advised not to get ahead of himself, and focus on trying to fix his own failing party before taking Billy’s name in vain.”
Scottish Labour is looking to sign up celebrity backers of the union following their heavy defeat in the May election.
As well as enjoying Mr Connery’s longstanding support, the First Minster has also been backed by artist Jack Vettriano, and actors Brian Cox and Alan Cumming.
The former home secretary Lord Reid has ruled himself out of leading the Yes to Scotland in Britain campaign.