St Andrew’s Day – I will celebrate with pride in being Scottish with an eye on a future based on renewing our place in the UK in 2014
In an exclusive article for Endeavour Public Affairs to mark St Andrew’s day on the 30th of November, Ruth Davidson MSP sets out the important contribution Scotland has made throughout the years and what she will be doing to celebrate St Andrew’s day. She concludes that this St Andrews day has a lot more significance as it is the last one before the referendum in September of next year.
Ruth Davidson is the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow and is Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
To follow Ruth Davidson on Twitter – @RuthDavidsonMSP
St Andrew’s day is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate all things Scottish and to remember the enormous contribution Scots have made, and continue to make, both at home and around the globe.
We are known for some of the greatest inventions such as the television, telephone and penicillin, yet less common is the fact that we were responsible for the indoor toilet, the vaccination for the HPV virus and the refrigerator.
Last year, when the Prime Minister delivered his first St Andrew’s day message he pointed out what Scots have always known – that Scotland’s “greatest asset and greatest export has been its people.”
Testament to the wide reach of Scots over the years is the number of places worldwide which will celebrate our St Andrew’s day.
As far afield as Australia, Malaysia, Dubai, and Singapore, St Andrew’s Societies will raise a glass or two to Scotland on Saturday.
As we watch so many members of the Scottish diaspora continue their recognition of their homeland, it is pleasing to see an increasing number of my Scots back home embrace November 30th as well.
The Welsh and Irish have a long tradition of celebrating their national saints and it is heartening to see Scottish pride now being expressed in this way too.
Historic Scotland is offering free entry to properties throughout the country so people can appreciate our history and heritage, and in my own constituency of Glasgow, music and dancing events are being held in George Square throughout the day.
This year I will be celebrating St Andrew’s day with a number of events throughout the week.
From a traditional dinner with guest speakers and a menu of haggis, neeps and tatties in Glasgow to a Downing Street reception where leading Scots from the worlds of business, sport; science and entertainment are invited to celebrate our country’s immense contribution to the UK.
It will be an honour to celebrate our patron saint with those who have helped to put Scotland on the map.
The event will also be an ideal opportunity to showcase some of Scotland’s finest foods, and no doubt, some of our finest drinks as well.
However, it doesn’t just take a shindig to make me feel pride in my country. I am passionate about our land and our heritage.
I did parts of my degree in Scottish History and Scottish Literature, and I believe that as a people we are shaped by our landscape, industry and climate.
The great Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott summed up our sense of pride well with his immortal words: “Wha’s like us?”
I love our chippy pride and our humour which can be both deeply self-deprecating but also and devastating to anyone who grows too big for their boots.
I love that Scots are always first in the queue to give someone in need a helping hand and first, too, to stand their round at the bar.
And, I am proud to sit in the stands at Murrayfield and Hampden; never ashamed of the hope and expectation I feel at the start of every match – even when 80 or 90 minutes later, those hopes have been dashed.
I am Scottish first and I will always put Scotland first, but I am also proud to be British.
Although I wear my dual nationalities lightly I can be roused to anger by anyone who seeks to take either away from me.
They are who I am.
Of course this St Andrews day has a lot more significance as it’s the last one before the referendum in September of next year.
For my part, I will always make the positive case for Scotland in Britain – that we are better united. That Scots can feel good about their dual identities – that being Scottish and British is not a contradiction but a big plus.
I know the difference between patriotism and nationalism – and I do not doubt for one moment the desire of all patriots and nationalists to want to do what they think is best for Scotland.
But the narrow opinion that the only true Scots are those who believe in separation is unworthy of those who peddle it and an insult to the majority who live here.
I believe that Scotland’s future is best served within the family of the UK, which has done so much for us. Scotland exports more to the rest of these islands than it does to the rest of the world combined and tens of billions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of jobs rely upon our shared market.
I want to see a future for Scotland where it does not turn inwards but continues to be a proud nation of industrious and talented people on a world stage.
Scotland must not merely survive but thrive.
We may be a small country but we have a big heart and a big voice and that can only get louder.
So, this St Andrews day I will celebrate with pride in being Scottish with an eye on a future based on renewing our place in the UK in 2014.
Published: Friday 29 November 2013
© Copyright of Endeavour Public Affairs 2013
Photograph: © Copyright of Ruth Davidson MSP
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone.