St Andrew’s Day

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th November 2012.

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Photo of Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie Conservative

That is what many people in Scotland—hundreds of thousands of them apparently, according to recent polls—feel instinctively is part of their identity. They do not have a problem with it. I appreciate that the cabinet secretary has a problem with that, but it is not a problem that is shared by the majority of people in Scotland. St Andrew and his saltire are by no means the property solely of Scotland, let alone of the Scottish National Party or of any other form of nationalism.

The debate calls on us to celebrate Scotland, which I genuinely always welcome the opportunity to do, because we have a great deal to celebrate. We have a distinct culture and history, and our contribution to the world at every level cannot be overstated. I celebrate all those attributes as a Scot, but I also—alongside hundreds of thousands of other Scots—celebrate them as a citizen of part of the United Kingdom. Remember: 800,000 Scots live elsewhere in the UK.

From a union that was inspired by pragmatism and rationality, one of the world’s most wonderful and remarkable democratic countries has developed and grown. Of course Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have many individual successes to extol, but I believe that our greatest successes—those that we can celebrate the most, and those that define who we are as people and what we are as a nation—are those that happened not by acting alone and looking inward but by acting together and looking outward as part of the remarkable union that is the United Kingdom.

I remind Parliament that it was together, as part of that United Kingdom, that we led the fight against slavery and delivered huge social reform and the universal franchise, which were made possible by acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, so we can all—Scots and English alike—take pride in that.