I am loving this debate. I am loving the fact that we are defining the very idea of our nation and our Scottishness. I thank my friend and colleague Tom Arthur for bringing this debate to the Parliament.
I have been involved in these debates on numerous occasions and I always manage to mention what we are doing in Renfrewshire and Paisley with regard to St Andrew’s day. In Paisley, it is part of the winter events that start with the fantastic fireworks display, followed by switching on the Christmas lights and then St Andrew’s day.
Paisley First, which set up the business improvement district, is having a winter festival in the town centre. There is a massive wheel with lights on it next to Paisley Cross—the London Eye has nothing on that big wheel at Paisley Cross. The festival is an incredible event. If we spend any time as a family over the period, we will probably spend it there. For us, the events ensure the legacy of the Paisley 2021 year of culture.
As Mark Griffin stated, St Andrew is the patron saint of textile workers. If the town of Paisley, with our history in textiles, cannot celebrate our patron saint, absolutely no one else can do it either.
It is right that Scotland’s Parliament recognises our patron saint. Over the years, I have looked at the Irish and their idea of St Patrick’s day with some envy, as people all over the world celebrate their patron saint’s day. For Scotland, St Andrew’s day can be a missed opportunity to promote our country and tell the world what we are all about. The Scottish Government has been doing a lot of work on that, but we could still use these events and days to promote ourselves more. The Scottish diaspora is equal to, if not larger than, the Irish diaspora. St Andrew’s day can be another example of how we celebrate and promote all the things that are special about Scotland.
I particularly like the theme of this year’s St Andrew’s day celebration. Making someone’s day is a brilliant way to celebrate a patron saint’s day and shows that we continue to believe in our people and our communities. On Friday, my office will take the day off. If the idea is to make someone’s day, I have already done it for my staff, who will have a day off to rest up after helping the good people of Paisley over the past year. They have promised to have a good day.
The whole point of the campaign is for us to make people’s lives that wee bit better. Whether it is by ensuring that a neighbour is okay or by visiting family and friends who we have not seen in a while, if everyone does one small thing, together we can make a huge difference. Surely that is a fitting tribute to St Andrew—it shows what our priorities are. As Paisley’s MSP, my priority has always been the people I represent. I always try to make people’s lives better. My family is extremely important to me, too, but my daughter Jessica sometimes complains that I get my priorities mixed up and spend more time helping the people of Paisley than I do helping my family and grandchildren. To make tomorrow special, perhaps it would be good for me to visit some of my family and friends and spend time with them.
I thank Tom Arthur again for bringing the debate to the chamber. On days such as tomorrow, we can celebrate Scotland in its entirety. The debate has shown that that is exactly what we will do. The importance of days such as tomorrow is that it shows who we are, what we have done and where we are going. I look forward to seeing how we can further promote St Andrew’s day in future, and how we can enjoy Scotland, promote Scotland to the world and tell everyone exactly who Scotland is.