St Andrew’s Day

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

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Photo of Roderick Campbell Roderick Campbell Scottish National Party

As the MSP for North East Fife, which is home to the town of St Andrews, I am privileged to participate in today’s debate on Scotland’s day of national celebration. I am delighted that this year’s programme of events in celebration of St Andrew’s day is busier than ever before. St Andrews is currently holding the St Andrews festival, which runs until the weekend. That is just one of the major events that are planned for Scotland this week, alongside programmes such as Scotland sings and book week Scotland, which tie in perfectly with the year of creative Scotland.

From previous debates, I had understood that there was a general cross-party agreement on having a public holiday on St Andrew’s day, on the internationalism of our patron saint and on the need to put aside political differences so that we can celebrate Scotland’s national day together, as people of Scotland. As has, however, been pointed out several times in the past, St Andrew is not exclusively ours. Other countries, including Russia and Greece, respect him as their patron saint. Despite its further bail-out, Greece certainly needs a patron saint looking after it and its people.

The date of 30 November has its obvious significance in Scotland, but it also captures worldwide significance. On that day in 1786, Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, abolished the death penalty—it was the first European state to do so. Cities across the globe now celebrate cities for life day in memory of that pioneering act of humanity. In 1872, the first international football match took place in Glasgow between Scotland and England, and in 1934 the Flying Scotsman became the first steam locomotive officially to exceed 100mph. Not least important, in 1982 Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album was released. All those events may have only tenuous connections to St Andrews and Scotland, but they all took place on 30 November and are all of great importance, in their own right.