HOLLYWOOD actor Brian Cox has quit Labour for the SNP claiming the party he supported all his life had “failed” to live up to its “basic principles”.
The Bourne Supremacy and X-Men star – one of Scotland’s best known actors – has formally joined the SNP after campaigning for a Yes vote in the independence referendum.
The Dundee-born actor had previously been a vocal Labour supporter, dining with Tony Blair and even voicing Labour Party election broadcasts.
But last month the 68-year-old warned the “the writing is on the wall” if the “Labour Party doesn’t get its s*** together soon”.
In a letter to Labour general secretary Iain McNicol, Cox said: “I have always believed the Labour Party stood for social democracy but sadly I no longer believe they do.
“It is with deep sadness that I am resigning from the party – a party I believed in but has now failed in the last few years to live up to its basic principles.
“I feel the Scottish National Party is the party taking forward values of social justice and represents Scotland’s best interests and that is why I have, like many other Labour supporters, decided to become a member of the SNP.”
Cox continued: “The people in Dundee, particularly in the Labour Party, showed great fortitude in their choice of socialism and independence and are very much on the right road.
“Their position was severely undermined by the empty rhetoric of leading members of the party.
“This has lead to great disillusionment with the party throughout Scotland and my position merely reflects that disillusionment.”
The actor, who grew up in a working class family in Dundee before rising to stardom as a Hollywood actor, is now principally based in America.
An SNP spokesman confirmed Brian Cox is now a member of the party.
He said the actor “joined the SNP recently”.
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, Kezia Dugdale, said: “Brian Cox is a great Scottish actor whose commitment to the arts in unrivalled.
“He has been a great Labour supporter and I’m sad to see him leave.”
The news swept rapidly across Twitter yesterday.
West Dumfries SNP group wrote: “It is another blow to the party as it fights for its electoral lives amid desperate polling figures.”
SNP Trade Unionists tweeted: “Brian Cox quits Labour and joins the SNP. Given the enthusiasm with which Brian Cox campaigned for a Yes vote…”
While Angus Robertson MP, the leader of the SNP at Westminster, also shared the news with his followers and was retweeted 10 times in as many minutes.
Cox was later hailed as a “fabulous endorsement” by Joe FitzPatrick, the nationalist MSP for Dundee.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “His deep-held beliefs and passion for social justice are well known, and it is an honour to have such a talented and internationally celebrated actor as a member.
“Labour has, as Brian points out, abandoned the principles which it used to stand for – no wonder so many former Labour members have joined and are continuing to join the SNP.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon retweeted her husband – the Chief Executive of the SNP – Peter Murrell urging others to follow suit.
Mr Murrell wrote: “Brian Cox: ‘I’ve quit Labour and I’m joining the SNP.’ Follow his lead.”
Dennis Canavan, a former Labour MP who resigned from the party in 2000, said he news came as “no surprise”.
Mr Canavan, who chaired YesScotland, continued: “I had the privilege of sharing a platform with Brian at various venues, including his native city of Dundee.
“Brian must have been absolutely scunnered to see Labour in bed with the Tories during the Referendum campaign and copying so many Tory policies like Trident and the cap on benefits.
“The Labour Party has lost its soul and it’s no wonder that many former Labour supporters, like Brian, are realising that independence is the best way forward.”
Allan Grogan, founder Labour for Independence, campaigned with Cox during the referendum.
Grogan, now a member of the Scottish Socialist party, said: “It’s not a surprise Brian left. I’m surprised he joined the SNP and not a socialist party because he’s a socialist himself.”
“I think for everybody there’s been a cutting point.
“The election of Jim Murphy for a lot of people that was the final cut point.”
He continued: “There are not many Yes Voters still left in the party. There’s not many left wing socialists left in the party.”
Talking about his experience of quitting the Labour party he said: “It’s not an easy choice. You feel like it’s your family, your home.”