St Andrew’s Day

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

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Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Margo MacDonald makes a good point. Of course, the bounds of geography in the modern electronic world are much shrunk, and emotionally I feel no distance whatever. My niece in Sweden and my nephew in Denmark are Scandinavians, just as after independence we will continue to be Britons, but by geography rather than political choice.

It is interesting to look at what we have achieved jointly with our friends south of the border. I am approximately one quarter English myself, and I have a number of great-grandparents from south of the border. We have achieved a great deal together, which is to our shared credit. We have fought and won two world wars, but many independent countries joined the alliance voluntarily; we did not have to be bound in a political union to do that.

There are a lot of local St Andrew’s day events in a lot of different constituencies and we will celebrate in our own individual ways. In my constituency, we will have travellers’ tales in Fraserburgh library tomorrow; great reads for winter nights in Peterhead two days later; and, on 1 December, a meet-the-author event with Shona MacLean in Banff castle. Those will be excellent contributions to aiding understanding all around the world.

It is worth looking at what we have on our doorstep. There is a new statue of Robert Ferguson outside the Canongate kirk. He is the man that Robert Burns described as

“my elder brother in the muse”.

Adam Smith’s statue is in Canongate kirk’s yard, too. He is someone who made an immense contribution and whose works are carried by capitalists and communists around the world.

When Dennis Canavan successfully introduced his member’s bill to create a holiday in Scotland, he worked closely within the Parliament’s powers, which allow us to prescribe and create bank holidays. Bank holidays are, in a technical sense, only days on which banks may not charge interest—that is all that a bank holiday is. Of course, he also created holidays for civil servants. Would that he had been able—through that member’s bill—to create holidays for wider Scotland. That must be voluntary; it cannot be created by the powers of this Parliament.