St Andrew’s Day

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

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Photo of Joan McAlpine Joan McAlpine Scottish National Party

Many members mentioned the saltire or cross of St Andrew, which has its origins in East Lothian, in the South Scotland region that I represent. As members said, St Andrew is an international patron saint. He is the patron saint of many countries. However, as far as I can see—I stand to be corrected if I have made an inadvertent error—the only sovereign state that has a saltire in its flag is Jamaica.

In the spirit of the Labour Party’s internationalist amendment, I will say that it pleases me that we share a saltire with Jamaica. The Jamaican flag is a gold saltire cross in a black and green field—those are the pan-African colours—and was adopted in August 1962, on the first Jamaican independence day. I hope that all members agree that it is highly appropriate that in the week in which we celebrate St Andrew’s day we heard that Usain Bolt, Jamaican superstar athlete and the world’s fastest man, will compete in the Commonwealth games in Glasgow in 2014. I look forward to the saltire of Jamaica flying side by side with the saltire of Scotland during the games, I hope as medals of Scottish gold are distributed.

I want to consider Annabel Goldie’s warning that national identity could become introspective as a result of political independence. I ask her to look to Jamaica for inspiration. There is a small island nation, which has strong links to Africa, as reflected in its flag, and to the UK. Before 1962 the country flew the union flag and of course it remains a high-profile member of the Commonwealth.

Thousands of Jamaicans have made their home in the UK, particularly in the big English cities, just like the Scots whom Ms Goldie mentioned. Many have joint identities, but that does not make them feel apologetic for being Jamaican. By the same token, thousands of Irish people have made their homes in the UK and can celebrate their cultural identity without feeling that doing so is somehow disloyal or disrespectful to their adoptive home and without feeling that the political sovereignty that complements their national identity makes them introspective or is somehow a threat to anyone.