On seeing the title of today’s debate, I was reminded of a time when the St Andrew’s day debate was confined to members’ business. It is now elevated to the status of a Scottish Government debate, which is entirely appropriate. I hope that the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs is not too stunned by my acquiescence.
As members are aware, I believe in the United Kingdom and in Scotland’s place in that union. A person need not be a member of the Scottish National Party to be proud of Scotland and her achievements. No one in the chamber has a monopoly on patriotism. Patricia Ferguson made that point well; I thank her for her support of my amendment. The Scottish Conservatives welcome the opportunity to celebrate Scotland and the St Andrew’s day tradition.
On a mechanism for enhancing the celebration, I say to Margo MacDonald that I celebrate it by just being myself; I think that that is what an awful lot of people in Scotland do.
St Andrew was, of course, the first apostle. He was a fisherman on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. However, it was not until the end of the first millennium that St Andrew’s links with Scotland were established, when he was made the patron saint of Scotland after some of his relics were brought by St Rule to St Andrews, where they remain to this day. Other relics can be found in Patras in Greece—I have viewed them there—in Amalfi in Italy, in Warsaw in Poland and in St Mary’s Roman Catholic church in Edinburgh, so he was well travelled in death.
St Andrew was no less well travelled in life; he preached along the southern borders of today’s Ukraine along the Black Sea, as well as along the Dnieper and Volga rivers, which is why he became a patron saint of Russia, Romania and the Ukraine. However, the temporal reach of St Andrew does not end there, with his patronages in sainthood extending from Luqa to Esgueira, and even as far as Barbados. The global reach of St Andrew is not limited merely to countries that enjoy him as their patron saint. This year alone, individuals of all nationalities will gather, from Australia and New Zealand to the USA and Canada and from Bonn to Brussels to celebrate the saintly feast day.
The cabinet secretary asked me about UK celebrations of St Andrew. I am quite surprised by the request, because in her motion she notes that many events will take place in the rest of the UK. However, to help her out I can confirm that many Scots will congregate in London, Cambridge, Bedford, Dorset and other parts of England to celebrate St Andrew’s day.