St Andrew’s Day

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Why should we celebrate St Andrew’s day? Some reasons are historical, some are cultural, some are even political, some are humorous and some are personal.

I will start by extending our knowledge of the flag. It is also one of the international signal flags; it stands for the letter M and it means that a doctor is on board, which fits neatly with our tradition of training doctors around the world.

We have heard of countries that have St Andrew as their patron saint. He is also the patron saint of Patras in Greece, Amalfi in Italy, Luqa in Malta and Esgueira in Portugal. He was the patron saint of Prussia and of the order of the golden fleece. Andrew is also the patron saint of the United States army rangers. He certainly gets about a bit—indeed, the Church of Scotland has many St Andrew’s kirks around the world, which demonstrates his reach.

Mark Griffin very nicely and properly mentioned my constituents who founded BrewDog, which is a very successful brewery. They are two young lads of Mark Griffin’s age rather than my age. My favourite beer from there—which I can just about make relevant to the debate—is Trashy Blonde, which is a very nice blonde beer. That leads me to one of the reasons why it is a little unwise for the Tories to have approached the debate in the way that they have. If we want to celebrate St Andrew’s day for party-political reasons, I have a better starting point than any of the other members, because 30 November 1990 was the day on which a removal van arrived at 10 Downing Street to remove Maggie Thatcher from that address. Perhaps the Tories will be celebrating that as well. Others may have celebrated when I left the Bank of Scotland on 30 November 1999, so it is for the goose as it is for the gander. By moving from banking to politics, I sought to improve my reputation.

Any members in the chamber who have done any genealogical research will have seen that many of our ancestors used the St Andrew’s cross to make their mark on certificates before the days of literacy.

The order of St Andrew is the highest order of merit in modern Russia. It is a very ancient order, and was suspended during the time of the Soviet Union. I note that the second-highest order in Russia is the order of St George, so they have got things right in that country at least. Recipients of the order of St Andrew in Russia have been Peter the Great, Mikhail Gorbachev and—less encouragingly—Mikhail Kalashnikov.

The name “Andrew” itself is of interest. It comes from the Greek, and means “manly”, “brave”, “manhood” and “valour”—a whole series of attributes of which I think we can all accept that we should be proud.

There are not just 800,000 Scots living in England, but 40 million Scots living around the world. The majority of my living relatives of whom I am aware live outside Scotland, mostly in the United States but also in Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.