What a week
for the constitution!
the three unionist parties, Labour, Conservative and Liberal
Democrat, working with the London Government, launched their
commission which is designed to look at what’s being called
‘Devolution plus’ – extra powers for Scotland’s Parliament
(although it’s also considering the possibility of taking
power away from Scotland).
announced the chair of their commission – Kenneth Calman – a
former Civil Servant and a one-time Chief Medical Officer
for Scotland followed by a spell in the same job down south
and he once ran an inquiry on Scottish medical education.
Seems on the face of it a decent chap to conduct such a
commission – but his comments at the launch suggest that he
isn’t exactly entering into it with an open mind.
"Seventy-seven per cent of the Scottish public don't think
independence is the right way forward," he said. "All of
the work over the last few years makes it pretty clear
that's not an issue right now. There are plenty of other
issues that are relevant to Scotland, its institutions and
its parliament which will give us plenty to look at."
With an SNP
Government in power you would have thought that Independence
was an issue right at the centre of the constitutional
debate in Scotland, wouldn’t you? Whether or not you are in
favour of Independence, surely one of the main arguments on
the constitution has to figure in any consideration of the
So that was
where they got to – an attempt to keep Independence off the
Marvellously, the next day saw the launch of phase 2 of the
National Conversation. The National Conversation is the SNP
Government’s drive to get the people of Scotland discussing
our future. The Government has quite deliberately and quite
openly said that we should discuss all the issue and has
invited the other parties to put their ideas forward for
discussion with the Scottish people – they’ve refused so
Phase 2 of
the Conversation was a move to bring the institutions of
Scotland into the discussion. The universities, local
authorities, unions, churches, interest groups, students,
they were all there and the National Conversation branched
out and they engaged.
Salmond launched that phase 2, he invited the unionist
parties, once again to put their ideas forward for a
multi-option referendum with Independence and the status quo
on the ballot paper. They’re still refusing because, Tory
leader Annabel Goldie made clear, they don’t want anything
needs to move forward, so I’m delighted that the SNP keeps
Scotland moving forward.
delighted that the SNP has changed the way that Scotland
interacts with the United States.
everyone is aware of Tartan Week in New York. Tartan Week
has had some success in the States, raising the awareness of
Scotland, but the focus was wrong, it seemed to be more
about being a politician’s jolly than about delivering for
Scotland. Add to that the fact that the Americans call
tartan plaid, and you can see why they were confused by
Scottish Government has changed the week from a tartan
jamboree as it has been in past years into a week to promote
Scotland in all its guises. Rather than trying to hide
behind tartan the week has been renamed. Scotland Week –
putting Scotland’s name right up at the front, being proud
of who we are and proud of our country, not cowering and
asking whether it’s ok to come out. Tartan stays in the
mix, of course – part of Scotland’s strength is an
incredibly strong branding that comes from international
icons like tartan.
Scotland’s Ministers will be going out to the United States
– on Saturday in fact – to sell Scotland to the Americans.
Not by selling highland estates to rich Americans for the
purpose of building golf courses, but looking for is
opportunities for Scotland, for Scottish businesses and for
Scotland’s people to sell into the US and into Canada.
They’re going to Scotland Week to do business for Scotland.
The SNP came
into Government promising to make Scotland wealthier where
we can and we’ve been turning up lots of ways to make that
possible – one of which is refocusing Scotland’s efforts in
North America on making business opportunities for Scotland.
agree with those who say we can’t do it – I think Scotland
can do anything we set our minds to. We don’t have to
posture as the best small country in the world, we just have
to be Scotland and get out there and do it.
Linda Fabiani be doing next week and what Alex Salmond and
Jim Mather will be doing next week. That’s what the
Scottish Government will be doing – they’ll be doing
business for Scotland and opening up North America.
We have a
perfect right to be part of the world – there are even some
people who have argued that Scotland invented the modern
world – and I’m determined to play my part in making sure
that we get our share of the world.
and privileged to be a back-bencher in the party of
Scotland’s Government, and I’m delighted to be part of a
party that is determined to make Scotland a better place and
improve the lives of everyone who lives in this wonderful
not a backward nation, we’re not a wee country struggling
by, we can’t be defined as a region stuck at the back of
somewhere else, Scotland is a proud nation and we can play
our part in the world. We can be proud of who we are and we
can build a better, wealthier and fairer country.
We can leave
this country in a better condition than the condition in
which we found it and we can find ourselves happy with our
achievements if we only have the courage to try. Scotland
can be as good as we want it to be, we can build this nation
to match and exceed all of our ambitions.
thing we have to do is believe in ourselves, and I think
we’re doing that now, and I’ll invite each and every person
in Scotland to join us on that journey.