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

It was a 0-0 draw.

St Andrew’s day has also borne witness to cultural and historically significant firsts. The first international football match gathered together 4,000 souls as Scotland held England to a 0-0 draw, as I just said. Despite the result, the match helped to invigorate the Scottish people with a love of football, which continues to this day—albeit with little current success.

Of more interest than the 0-0 draw is the first 100mph journey by the Flying Scotsman. The locomotive travelled on countless journeys and covered about 2 million miles between London and Edinburgh after that. I rather fear that it will be a long while before we have a new high-speed train in Scotland.

Some people may question how those examples are linked to St Andrew’s day. They are indicative of several things: humanitarianism, peace, equality, national pride and links between nations. As I mentioned, St Andrew was renowned for his humanitarianism and egalitarianism. Is not it right that the first international football match brought together on the terraces 4,000 people from different walks of life, in the same circumstances, to enjoy a game? Surely that demonstrates those values. Cannot it be said that a love of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, which just happens to be the best-selling album of all time, brings together millions of people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe in a shared experience?

St Andrew’s day is about much more than Scotland and its own history and culture; it is a day for the entire world. It is a day of tolerance, pride and equality. Events that are taking place globally this week reflect that. For example, the Scottish Society of Central Pennsylvania is hosting its St Andrew’s day supper. Over the next few days, St Andrew’s day events will take place in Brussels, Den Haag in the Netherlands, Bermuda and Manila. St Andrews is hosting a 10-day-long festival, which includes a food festival, as part of which a food from Fife dinner will be held at the Old Course hotel in St Andrews on Thursday. There will also be a Fife young fiddlers event, a torchlight parade and many other activities besides. Last Friday, there was a major poetry event in St Andrews, at which readings of the Ayrshire poet Rab Wilson, who wrote mainly in Scots, led a highly successful evening.

I wish all the organisers of and participants in those events—which are the first in Scotland’s winter festival programme—every success, and I wish those who are involved in later events in the programme every success, too. I also welcome book week Scotland which, I am sure, Fiona McLeod will talk about in more detail.

The internationalism of the day cannot be overstated. St Patrick’s day is renowned internationally for people enjoying themselves and celebrating all that is good about Ireland. The same should be true of St Andrew’s day in relation to Scotland, so I welcome the work that the Scottish Government is doing to promote it within our borders and beyond them. It is clear that St Andrew’s day is very important to the people of Scotland and to the people of the world, so it is right for us, as a Parliament, to hold such a debate. I commend the Government’s motion and Patricia Ferguson’s amendment. I wish, however, that I could understand the logic of Annabel Goldie’s amendment. I see and recognise 300 years of shared history, and I see and recognise a social union, but I do not recognise the narrow prism that her amendment seems to imply.