My point is that it was a United Kingdom Parliament that put an end to slavery and that Scotland was part of that. It was also as part of the United Kingdom that we led the fight against totalitarianism in all its insidious forms, from fascism to communism. Patricia Ferguson quite rightly reminded us of the STUC’s role every year in ensuring that we never forget the importance of that fight.
It was together, as part of the United Kingdom, that we created what is perhaps the most respected public health institution in the world—the national health service, which continues to ensure that everyone in the United Kingdom, regardless of status, receives the health service that they need free of charge.
It is interesting that it was also together, as part of that United Kingdom, that we brought a common market to the nations of our union a century before Europe did. That common market brought unparalleled prosperity to the partners of the UK.
However, it is clear from listening to members on the SNP benches and to the cabinet secretary’s speech that there is a belief, which we hear about with increasing frequency, that Scotland—they claim—is hampered by the union. We are, they insist, somehow held back because we are part of the UK. Only with independence, they assert, can we really be a successful nation. However, that incantation is nothing more than tilting at windmills, because we did not achieve those defining successes alone. Rather, we accomplished them together as a union of nations. In doing so, we crafted who we are as people as well as who we are as a people. Nationalism, with its instinct to look inwards, neglects that fact.
In a globalised world, separatism cannot be the answer. At exactly the time when we should be working together to face the difficult challenges and uncertainties that abound in our modern world, I must question how separation can help that. The difficulty with separation is the risk—I am not saying that the SNP is culpable; I am just saying that it can happen—of introspection and marginalisation.
St Andrew’s reach throughout the United Kingdom as well as the world shows us how interconnected are our identities, cultures, histories, successes and—most important of all—our futures. I add my name to those who proudly celebrate Scotland, speaking out for the majority of Scots who celebrate our successes not alone, but as part of an enduring union.
I move amendment S4M-04970.1, after “culture” to insert:
“, as well as Scotland’s place in, and shared history, identity and culture with, the UK,”.