Meeting date: Thursday, November 29, 2018
Meeting of the Parliament 29 November 2018
Agenda: General Question Time, First Minister’s Question Time, St Andrew’s Day 2018, Homelessness, Decision Time
- General Question Time
- First Minister’s Question Time
- St Andrew’s Day 2018
- Decision Time
St Andrew’s Day 2018
I ask people who are in the public gallery to leave quietly, as the Parliament is in session.
The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-14747, in the name of Tom Arthur, on St Andrew’s day 2018—#MakeSomeonesDay. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.
That the Parliament welcomes the celebration of St Andrew’s Day; understands that the theme in 2018 is, Make Someone’s Day; notes the view that everyone should celebrate the national day; believes that it is an opportunity to promote Scotland to the world as an inclusive and outward looking nation; welcomes the launch of St Andrew’s Fair Saturday, which will take place on 1 December; understands that this will be a celebration of arts and culture, and considers the celebrations to be an opportunity for people in Scotland across all faiths, beliefs, cultures and ethnic origins, and Scots internationally, to mark the contribution of Scotland at home and across the globe.12:49
It is my great pleasure and privilege to lead this year’s St Andrew’s day debate in our national Parliament. I thank all the members from across the chamber who supported my motion, and I thank the minister, Ben Macpherson, for his engagement with members before the debate and for providing information on how the Scottish Government is supporting the celebration of St Andrew’s day across Scotland.
This is the 10th St Andrew’s day debate that we have had since the Parliament reconvened in 1999. The first time that we debated our national day was in March 2004, in a members’ business debate that the late Donald Gorrie secured. As we approach the 20th anniversary of devolution, it is perhaps revealing about the Parliament’s early years that it took until almost the second year of the second parliamentary session to recognise St Andrew’s day in a parliamentary debate. Donald Gorrie was, of course, an independent-minded MSP who, ahead of the 2007 elections, famously advised his Liberal Democrat colleagues to “never say never” to an independence referendum. I am sure that my colleagues are grateful that his colleagues did not take his advice.
It is an interesting coincidence of history that the first St Andrew’s day debate on or around the day itself was led by Dennis Canavan, some eight months after Mr Gorrie’s members’ business debate. It is fair to say that no Scottish politician of recent times has done as much as Dennis Canavan to promote participation in St Andrew’s day. His most enduring legacy in this area is, of course, the St Andrews Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007. However, he has also been a driving force on the St Andrew’s day campaign committee and is now the secretary of the cross-party group on St Andrew’s day, of which I am honoured to be the convener. That group rightly commands support from across the chamber, and I encourage members to engage with the group over the coming 12 months ahead of St Andrew’s day 2019.
I also wish to recognise the contribution of the Scottish Government and other colleagues who have secured St Andrew’s day debates over recent years. The record holder—if that is the appropriate term—is, of course, Linda Fabiani, who, as a Government minister, led debates in 2007 and in 2008. On the day on which the latter debate was held, almost exactly 10 years ago, there was also a debate on fishery negotiations with Europe—some things never change. More recently, debates have been secured and led by Kevin Stewart, Annabelle Ewing, Bruce Crawford and Michael Russell. Those debates have generally been consensual and have served to remind us that we have more in common than divides us.
The debates also serve as an opportunity to reaffirm our inclusive sense of Scottish identity. In a previous debate, you yourself, Presiding Officer, framed the issue succinctly by stating that St Andrew’s day serves as a
“symbolic reminder that we are the Scottish people, whether or not we were born here.”—[Official Report, 21 December 2015; c 70.]
That spirit of inclusiveness is carried into this year’s celebrations.
The theme for St Andrew’s day 2018 is #MakeSomeonesDay—a message that is not only relevant but necessary. This year, our national day falls at the end of a month in which children were tear-gassed by the world’s only superpower and our fellow European Union citizens were described as queue jumpers. It falls in a year in which, in the man-made tragedy of Yemen, the largest documented outbreak of cholera in history continues. Further, it falls at a time of unprecedented wildfires, floods and extreme weather, which affirm that we are on the brink of climate catastrophe.
In an era of such darkening skies, a sense of fatalism and despair can become overpowering, which is eagerly exploited by those who wish to fan the flames of intolerance and hatred. Therefore, it is at such times that simple acts of kindness, decency and humanity become essential. Every interaction that we have with another human being is a small pebble dropped into the pool of our collective experience. We do not know how far the ripples will travel, but we each determine by our actions whether we send them with good will or malicious intent.
Communities, societies and nations are ultimately the sum of a complex web of relationships between individuals, and it is the strength of each of those innumerable connecting threads that determines the health of the whole. By taking time to think of others—to make someone’s day—we can each generate sparks of light that together will illuminate the darkened skies that we currently face. In that spirit, I very much look forward to attending Barrhead men’s shed’s fifth birthday party tomorrow, before joining Lochwinnoch elderly forum for its annual St Andrew’s day lunch. Those two groups work all year long to make someone’s day.
This weekend, we will again celebrate small business Saturday, and I know that I am not the only member who will be sampling the produce of many of our small and independent traders, which I will also do as I visit Christmas fairs across my constituency. This year’s small business Saturday is particularly special as, for the first time, we will also be celebrating St Andrew’s fair Saturday.
The fair Saturday movement originated in Bilbao, in the Basque Country in northern Spain. It started in 2015 as a positive cultural response to the excessive consumerism of black Friday. Since then, the movement has grown, year on year. Last year, events took place in 114 cities, with more than 140,000 artists and members of the public participating. Those events generated almost €200,000 for local social causes. I am sure that, this year, there will be further increases in participation, and I look forward to learning how communities throughout Scotland will embrace the fair Saturday movement.
I also look forward to seeing how the events will complement many other more established St Andrew’s day events, such as the work that is led by BEMIS Scotland to celebrate our diversity, the famous St Andrew’s conga, which was pioneered by Glasgow the Caring City, and the St Andrew’s day debating tournament grand final, which will take place in this chamber.
St Andrew’s day offers a chance for all Scots—new and old, near and far—to come together to celebrate our unique contribution to the world and to recommit ourselves to our values of fairness, equality and compassion. Some cynics might level a charge of Scottish exceptionalism; so, in concluding, let me respond with this: as individuals, as communities and as a nation, our actions follow from our values and only we can define our values. This St Andrew’s day, let us recommit to the values that we choose and, in doing so, make someone’s day.12:56
I thank Tom Arthur for bringing the debate to the chamber to highlight St Andrew’s day. I have always thought that we need to do more at home to celebrate Scotland’s national day, because, across the world, global Scots probably do more than we do at home to celebrate St Andrew’s day. I have been an expatriate on a number of occasions, so I understand that people miss home and want to make the most of days such as St Andrew’s day to celebrate their Scottishness.
Friends and family of mine who have lived and worked around the world have been involved in organising and enjoying St Andrew’s day balls and events. Friends of mine who lived for a few years in Baku, in Azerbaijan, enjoyed such events, and I very much enjoy looking at their photographs. My aunt and uncle were heavily involved in running the Singapore St Andrew’s society ball every year, which was a huge affair with pipers, dancing and everyone in ball-gowns and national dress.
However, when we are at home, we do not celebrate St Andrew’s day quite so much, and I wonder why that is the case. If every local authority decided to implement the local holiday, as the Parliament voted for in 2006, perhaps we might stand a better chance of St Andrew’s day becoming the special day that it should be, and which it is in other countries.
Of course, there are exceptions. My party holds a St Andrew’s day dinner, which was hosted by Independence magazine the other week. In Edinburgh, the day marks the start of the winter festival, and VisitScotland has a list of amazing events that are happening throughout Scotland to celebrate St Andrew’s day.
The member rightly states the importance of local authorities being involved. Does she agree that it would be helpful if all local authorities agreed to celebrate St Andrew’s day on the same day? Not all do.
Absolutely. If we want St Andrew’s day to be a real festival, which is a terrific idea, co-ordination is key.
As Tom Arthur mentioned, the theme of this year’s St Andrew’s day is #MakeSomeonesDay, which is a wonderful idea for the reasons that he gave. The smallest acts of kindness can have a huge impact in brightening someone’s day and making them feel better. I love the idea of “pay it forward”. My only regret about not having to pay the toll to cross the Forth bridge any more is that we can no longer pay the toll for the car behind us. We used to do that for two reasons: first, it was a nice thing to do and, secondly, it freaked people out.
I have tried to deliver an act of kindness by offering to close my office tomorrow, so that my staff can have St Andrew’s day off. I say “tried” because they are resistant—they are a hard-working bunch who take their responsibilities very seriously, like all constituency staff. I might need to make my offer a demand in order to get them to commit to taking the day off—never look a gift horse in the mouth, guys; please just take the day off.
In the spirit of Tom Arthur’s motion, I will collect food for the Inverurie food bank at the local Tesco, as I do every year. That is an act of kindness and support that every volunteer wishes we did not need. However, every year, it reminds me of national traits that we can celebrate: the generosity and fair-mindedness of Scots, which are always in evidence through the donations that we receive.
I pay tribute to the efforts of the 10 schools in my constituency whose pupils have formed a choir to perform at an event linking St Andrew’s day with fair Saturday, which was mentioned by Tom Arthur. The proceeds of their concert will go to the local St Andrew’s school. St Andrew’s school, as many members will know, is a unique special school whose pupils are aged between 3 and 18 and have a range of barriers to learning. The school’s emblem is our national flag, which is appropriate given that the school is on the cusp of a very big change as it moves from its current location to form part of the new Inverurie community campus. St Andrew’s school will be housed in the new campus, but it will retain its singular identity and will continue to provide a specialist environment and learning for all its pupils. It is testament to the high regard in which the school is held in the local community that school pupils from as far away as New Deer and Turriff have chosen to make St Andrew’s school’s day.
I wish them all well, and I wish all members a happy St Andrew’s day when it comes.13:00
I thank Tom Arthur for bringing the debate to Parliament today. I am delighted to have an opportunity to participate, and I congratulate Gillian Martin and Tom Arthur on their considered speeches.
St Andrew’s day is a fantastic opportunity to show off to the world what Scotland does best, whether it is our warm hospitality or rich culture and history. There are many events planned up and down the country to celebrate the day.
I welcome the fair Saturday initiative, which, as Tom Arthur said, is an idea that was taken from the British Council meeting in Bilbao in 2014. Fair Saturday aims to mobilise people through social empathy rather than through commercialism. That relates to something that many of my constituents talk about, which is that black Friday is not very supportive of local high streets and communities.
That ties into making someone’s day. On fair Saturday and beyond into the Christmas period, it is only right that we take a moment to see through the commercialism and instead embrace the true meaning of the celebration of Christmas, which is social inclusivity and good cheer.
Closer to home, in my constituency of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, some 200 pupils from Hawick, Denholm and Newcastleton primary schools will be putting on their dancing shoes for a lively night of ceilidh dancing. The event, which is held annually, is organised by local branches of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. They have certainly been putting the pupils through their paces in the run up to the main event, with six weeks of practice. Watch this space—we could have some competition for those who are performing on “Strictly Come Dancing”. I thank all those who have organised the ceilidh, and I thank Morrison’s for donating juice and snacks. Such events are fantastic for pulling the community together and offering people a chance to come together to socialise and have some fun, of an evening.
Such events strike a chord with the campaign that is associated with this year’s St Andrews day celebrations, which is #MakeSomeonesDay. If members do anything on social media, they should use that hashtag. The campaign encourages people to share a small act of kindness on St Andrew’s day in particular, but I am of the opinion—as, I am sure, are members of all parties—that we should strive to do that every day. The message from the campaign is a reminder that we all should look out for one another, whether it is popping in to visit an elderly neighbour for a chat or volunteering for a local charity, especially as we enter the darkest and coldest part of the winter.
We should look out for our elderly neighbours in particular. In my rural constituency, social isolation is a key problem that will only grow because of our ageing population. Elderly people often cannot travel around so easily, and might for days not see anyone but the local postman. I encourage everyone to check on their elderly neighbours and relatives during the cold winter months, even if it is just to say, “Hello.”
To continue on the theme of loneliness, I note that we know that it affects people’s mental and physical health. As I have said previously in Parliament, social isolation is likely to cost the national health service as much as £12,000 per affected person, and can be as significant a risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Although the Scottish Government is taking steps to reduce social isolation, a lot more can be done. Campaigns such as #MakeSomeonesDay and the activities that are outlined in the letter that I received from Ben Macpherson can go some way towards helping the situation. I hope that we will all get involved.
In closing, I wish everyone a happy St Andrew’s day, and I hope that everybody will take from it an important message, which is that small acts of kindness really can make somebody’s day.13:04
Today’s debate celebrates the day of our patron saint, Andrew, and gives us the chance to celebrate our Scottish heritage. As Tom Arthur’s motion says, tomorrow is
“an opportunity for people in Scotland across all faiths, cultures and ... origins ... to mark the contribution of Scotland at home and across the globe.”
I am thankful for Tom Arthur’s action to ensure that we could have today’s important debate.
Members will know that the debate complements the establishment of a new cross-party group that is charged with promoting celebration of St Andrew’s day.
St Andrew is also the national saint of other countries, including Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Russia, Cyprus and Barbados. I hope that they, too, are gearing up for their own celebrations. He is also the patron saint of fishermen, fishmongers and rope makers, which is very appropriate to Scotland, given our seafaring heritage, and is perhaps noteworthy, given the recent vigorous debate surrounding the common fisheries policy. St Andrew's credentials as a saint of workers do not stop there, however: he is also the saint of textile workers, miners, butchers, and farm workers.
It is therefore apt that, at least for some public sector workers, tomorrow is a bank holiday in Scotland. As was pursued by Dennis Canavan, the law now allows someone legally to choose not to make payments on St Andrew’s day, which is a boon for small businesses and anyone who is budgeting ahead of Christmas. It is a good opportunity for workers across Scotland to fulfil the theme of #MakeSomeonesDay.
I hope that this is a starting point for our new CPG to encourage more organisations and businesses to recognise the day, so that the people of Scotland have the opportunity to take a rest and celebrate their national identity, cultural diversity and membership of the international community.
The same impetus is at the heart of the United Kingdom Labour Party’s plan for four new bank holidays on the patron saints’ days of the UK to celebrate and share our national cultures, and to strengthen the bonds across these isles.
As the motion states, our celebration of Scotland’s art and culture is this year, for the first time, being co-ordinated through fair Saturday, when people will meet from Bowmore to North Berwick and from Stromness to St Andrews to celebrate the national day. Unfortunately, the only event that is being held as part of fair Saturday for residents of my region is in Falkirk. There is, therefore, clearly a bit of work for me to do over the next year, by going back to my region and encouraging more organisations, community groups and artists from Central Scotland to get involved, or at least to get signed up for 2019.
However, for tomorrow, I hope that all Scots—born and bred, new or simply just visiting—get to enjoy the day, rest and immerse themselves in the day’s history and our heritage.13:08
Our national day is a wonderful opportunity to promote Scotland as an inclusive and outward-looking nation, and to reaffirm to ourselves the things that define our values as a nation. I thank my friend and colleague, Tom Arthur, for securing the debate and giving us all the opportunity to welcome the annual St Andrew's day celebrations.
As colleagues have mentioned, this year’s St Andrew’s day theme is #MakeSomeonesDay, which implores us to take a moment of time to perform a small act of kindness—perhaps to look in on an old friend, spend a bit of time with a neighbour, or support the local volunteering that goes on in all our constituencies.
I am proud to say that the cup of kindness overflows in abundance in my Ayrshire constituency of Cunninghame South. In Stevenston, for example, the Hendry family at Townhead cafe will once again provide Christmas dinner absolutely free of charge for any vulnerable, elderly or lonely people in the three towns and Kilwinning. Not a week goes by in which our local newspapers do not carry stories of fundraising efforts for various worthy local charities.
If members will indulge me, I will mention some of the local folk who have been doing good things. Pauline Tremble is an Irvine-based artist who provided a series of paintings to raise funds for Whiteleys Retreat in Ayr. Ellie Kennedy from Irvine raised an amazing £700 for the Beatson Cancer Charity and the Little Princess Trust, which is a charity that provides wigs to children who are going through cancer treatment.
The Kilwinning ambulance depot raised £1,900 for the Brain Tumour Charity by putting on an amazing fun day that many of the community took part in, while Bourtreehill scouts managed to raise £300 for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
The new Kindness Rocks Project campaign is being led by the Rev Neil Urquhart and Father Willie Boyd of Irvine, who have come together to further promote the message of kindness. They are working in association with the North Ayrshire kindness innovation network and the Shoes Brothers, as they are known—if members do a search on YouTube, they will be able to see their song and dance activities—to record a song and video to promote kindness at home, in the workplace and across communities in the constituency in the run-up to Christmas.
As has been mentioned, St Andrew’s fair Saturday is to be launched this year as part of the global celebration of fair Saturday to provide a celebration of arts and culture and
“an opportunity for people ... across all faiths, beliefs, cultures and ethnic origins, and Scots internationally, to mark the contribution of Scotland at home and across the globe.”
The theme of kindness is again prevalent. Contributors have been asked to support a social cause and to promote the wider celebration of St Andrew’s day through their work. This Saturday, I will be lucky enough to be joining the very hard-working staff of Tesco in Irvine to help with their annual food-bank collection.
St Andrew has an international profile, being the patron saint not just of Scotland, but of Greece, Russia, Romania and Ukraine, so it is appropriate that we reaffirm Scotland’s commitment as an open, welcoming and inclusive nation. Amidst the chaotic maelstrom of Brexit and what seems to be a terrible surge in racism and fascism, we should, as Scots, continue to celebrate and aspire to embody our shared global values of respecting human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.
I wish everyone a very happy St Andrew’s day.13:12
Like the other members who have spoken, I am pleased to speak in today’s debate, which celebrates Scottish culture, ethnic origin, heritage and inclusiveness. I am delighted that this year’s theme is make someone’s day. From across the chamber, we have heard stories of members’ backgrounds and experience; I would like to share my Doric culture by reciting a poem by a Mr George Dunbar, about a party that was held on St Andrew’s night. The huge amounts of food and drink that were consumed on the night are amazing, and I hope that my reading of the poem makes the day of at least some members.
I have always said that there are some great poems written in the Doric: the best stand comparison with anything that has been written in the English language. Unfortunately, the poem that I am about to read is not one of them. [Laughter.] I am using it today because it focused on St Andrew’s night. On another occasion, I might be able to give members some of the real quality stuff that has been written in Doric. When I recite a poem, I usually do it from memory—I learn the poem. Unfortunately, I have not had time to learn “St Andrew’s Night”.
When bauld St Andrew’s nicht cam’ roon
A core foregethered i’ the toon
Tae hae a rant or lilt a tune,
An’ teem a jovial jorum.
They suppit kail an’ gweed kail brose,
Whilk needs nae praise in rhyme or prose,
Till faces low’t like reidest rose,
Or kaim o’ cockalorum.
Comes cock-a-leekie gweedly fairin’,
An’ haddies sweet, an’ caller herrin’,
There was eneuch for a’, an’ sparin',
As fest as thrapples store ‘em.
Syne cam’ the haggis, het an’ reekin’,
Its spicy guff ilk nose was seekin’,
An’ nae a tongue had room for speakin’
Till nippies swack did score ’em.
The rossen breist o’ some fat nowt
That aft ’mang juicy girss did rowt,
The dell a ane o’ them wad flout,
But scowft what was afore ’em.
Noo sheep’s heid roon the table creeps,
Alang wi’ birsled tattles, neeps,
An’ whang o’ ither stuff in heaps;
Some winnert whaur they’d store ’em.
Wi’ feesant here, an’ peertricks there,
Stoot mealie puddens an’ tae spare,
Ye wad’ a’ thocht some had nae ser’,
Sae he’rty they did lower ’em.
Neist rich plum duff an’ aipple tairt,
An’ trumlin’ tarn sae sweetly ser’t
Gart ilka chiel pray tae be spare’t
Tae form the happy quorum.
Some noo made wye their teeth tae pyke,
Some crackit nilts an’ jist sic like,
While tongues were bizzin’ like a byke,
Wi’ naething noo tae bore ’em.
Wi’ sang an’ news the ’oors sped by,
While pleasure beamed in ilka eye,
An’ care gaed wannerin’ wi’ a sigh
Ayont aul’ Cairngorum.
A deoch-an-dorris, nane may doot,
Was quaff’t afore they daunert oot,
Whaur shone the meen’s sharp-nibbit snoot;
Some swore they saw a score o’ ‘em.
An’ so wi’ sang an’ he’rtsome cheer,
Wi’ auld acquaintance aye sae dear,
They heild St Andrew’s nicht, this ’ear,
As ithers did afore ’em.
I hope at least some members enjoyed that, and that some could understand it. I need little encouragement to speak Doric, and I rarely do an after-dinner speech without doing a poem or a bothy ballad.
It is great to see such vibrant and varying Scottish culture in the chamber today. The debate has been a great opportunity to express and display our wide variety of culture and experiences of St Andrew’s day.
I will touch on another part of our shared culture. Part of our shared culture is our flag: the saltire is the flag of Scotland. Ahead of St Andrew’s day tomorrow, it is important to get behind the #EveryonesFlag campaign. It is not a flag that belongs to one political party, one belief or that pushes one agenda or political persuasion. It is everyone’s flag.
I wonder what the Official Report will make of that. I hope that you have the poem written out and I hope that you have an English translation. I followed parts of it. It was wonderful to hear the Doric in your accent.13:17
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.13:21
I thank Tom Arthur for securing the debate and all the members who have made such thoughtful, passionate and enthusiastic speeches. It is great to be in the chamber with everyone today and to be part of this important debate.
Our winter festivals boost Scotland’s tourism and events sectors, and the Scottish Government is proud to support them with more than £0.5 million. However, as we have heard, they are certainly not all about finance—quite the opposite, in fact. From the unifying spirit of Hogmanay to the remarkable poetry of Robert Burns and others, and from the global solidarity of “Auld Lang Syne” to celebrating Scotland’s modern multicultural identity, our winter festivals are positively and purposefully entwined with boosting Scotland’s international profile, enhancing our collective confidence, and affirming and promoting our values of fairness, kindness, inclusivity and empowerment.
Building on that, on 1 November I was delighted to launch the Scottish Government-led campaign to showcase Scotland’s biggest ever celebration of St Andrew’s day. Tomorrow—30 November—Scotland is inviting people from near and far to join in the celebration of Scotland’s national day, through co-ordinated partner activity and national and local events right across the country.
What is particularly exciting this year, as others have mentioned, is that for the first time the celebration of Scotland’s national day is linked to the global fair Saturday initiative; indeed, I understand that we are the first northern European country to join the initiative, the second in Europe after founding country, Spain, and the first country as a whole to commit to it.
This year, between 30 November and 3 December, up to 100 events will celebrate St Andrew’s day—four times last year’s number. The celebrations reach across the country, including key island communities, with events in Skye and the Western Isles.
The fair Saturday initiative was founded by Jordi Albareda Ureta, who is a really inspiring person, to promote and deliver positive social change.
Reflecting the progressive and compassionate spirit of fair Saturday, the common thread that connects all Scotland’s St Andrew’s day celebrations this year is our focus on marking our national day by encouraging Scots far and wide to support others and engage in small acts of kindness to make someone’s day. As others have said, whether it is helping a relative, friend, neighbour or stranger or showing compassion where it is needed, whether it is contributing to a local cause or international charity, or whether it is inviting friends and partners to mark the occasion together, this year throughout Scotland we are encouraging ourselves and each other to celebrate our national day by looking outwards and positively engaging in kindness.
The aim of all this is not only to make a difference but to make Scotland’s St Andrew’s day celebrations something quite unique. Our celebrations will be the biggest yet, keeping local communities at their very heart, reflecting our values and global reputation for fairness, expressing the importance that we place on the vital and integral role of young people in our society, celebrating the diversity that modern Scotland is all about and working to strengthen the inclusive nature of the modern Scottish identity. So many different initiatives are taking place, from a mass conga of schoolchildren and torchlight processions to multicultural events demonstrating the positive plurality of Scotland’s sense of national and global citizenship.
The multicultural celebration of Scotland’s winter festivals delivered by BEMIS Scotland has gone from strength to strength. I am delighted that this year groups including the Polish Cultural Festival Association, Edinburgh Interfaith Association and St Giles cathedral in Edinburgh, the Nepalese Himalayan Association Scotland in Aberdeen, the ethnic minority forum in East Dunbartonshire and the Glad Cafe in Glasgow are all celebrating St Andrew’s day alongside their own unique heritage, faiths and traditions.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, Scotland is marking its national day by looking outward, not inward. In these times of flux and challenge, it is important to emphasise, as others have in the chamber, that Scotland’s national identity is set within our internationalist ethos and traditions. Our sense of ourselves as Scots is and has long been bound up and intertwined with a long-held wider identity as a progressive European and global partner with a broad commitment to global citizenship.
Tom Arthur’s motion makes it clear that with St Andrew’s day tomorrow and St Andrew’s fair Saturday, coupled with the commitments to small business Saturday, we have
“an opportunity for people in Scotland across all faiths, beliefs, cultures and ethnic origins, and Scots internationally, to mark the contribution of Scotland at home and across the globe.”
Whatever members or people across Scotland will be doing, I wish them a very happy St Andrew’s day, and I thank them for being part of the wider commitment to making someone’s day. Together, we can, through kindness, community and fairness, make an important difference and demonstrate to the world, ourselves and each other the very best of what it means to be Scottish.
That concludes the debate.13:28 Meeting suspended.
14:30 On resuming—