St Andrew’s Day

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

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Photo of John Park John Park Labour

I am not brave enough to comment on people of Mr Stevenson’s generation.

It is one of the benefits of devolution, with what has happened in the Scottish Parliament and the work that Dennis Canavan took forward to put the focus on St Andrew’s day as a holiday, that there is now a far greater awareness of the day. Everybody in the chamber should take credit for that, along with previous parliamentarians. The focus on literacy and access to our historical attractions must be welcomed. That focus is important in making sure that future generations have the benefit of finding out about our culture and history in a way that people of Stewart Stevenson’s generation did not.

My colleague Patricia Ferguson focused on the work that is being undertaken to organise the St Andrew’s day march and rally, which is organised every year by the Scottish TUC. It is only right that we, in the Scottish Parliament, take the time to recognise the significant amount of work that goes into that. As a former employee of the STUC, I know at first hand exactly how much effort goes into making it happen. I am talking about not just the people who work in that organisation but the hundreds of volunteers who support it throughout the year and on the day.

People get involved in such things for many reasons. Patricia Ferguson mentioned the demographic challenges that we have faced in Scotland over the past few years and the fact that we are now growing as a country, having welcomed so many people into our country. We should celebrate that and hope that they will understand and appreciate our culture even more. We have new Fifers, new Glaswegians, new Aberdonians and new people all over this great country of ours. It is significant that the STUC marches annually to recognise that, and I have always been pleased to take part in the rally.

Margaret McDougall talked about local businesses and Arran Aromatics in particular. That shows how such debates give us an opportunity to highlight how successful these things can be. We do not have as many opportunities as we should have in the Scottish Parliament to talk about successes in our own areas.

Rob Gibson’s mention of the winter festival and the number of visitors that we get from overseas is pertinent. We just need to lift up our heads as we walk up and down to the Parliament on a daily basis to see how many people have come to Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland to enjoy the things that will happen over the next few months.

Mark Griffin talked about our exports and mentioned BrewDog. As the co-convener of the cross-party group on Scotch whisky, I can see what we are doing in exporting not just products but working and environmental practices, on which we have a lot to be proud of.

Mark Griffin highlighted the fact that the Scottish cup is the oldest football cup in the world. I should have known that, but I did not. I once participated in the Scottish cup for Burntisland Shipyard Amateur Football Club, which was affiliated to the Scottish Football Association. Unfortunately, I got booked during the game and cost the side £150, which was money that we did not have.