In this series of guest blogs, we asked the leaders of the main political parties in Scotland to share their thoughts ahead of the annual St.Andrew’s Day Anti-Racism March & Rally which takes place this Saturday. Next up is Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party.
All of us in Scotland are rightly proud of our reputation as an open, tolerant and welcoming society – one that values all people, no matter their colour, creed, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
Yet, while we have come a long way in tackling sectarianism and rooting out racist abuse, there is still much to be done.
It’s a hard truth, but to our collective shame, we still have pockets of intolerance in Scotland.
Our response must be to challenge these views directly — be clear that our communities are enriched by those who have chosen to make this country their home; that we are better for our acceptance of different faiths and the protections we afford to all.
And we must encourage others to follow our lead.
Next year, we begin the process of leaving the European Union. While I campaigned passionately to Remain – and understand the strength of feeling Brexit provokes – I recognise the result and that it must be respected.
But this does not mean that UK is about to turn its back on the world or that we will stop championing freedom and justice. Quite the opposite.
We have a proud history of standing up for the oppressed and supporting an international order that upholds human rights and the rule of law.
Brexit will not change this. Nor will it stop us from continuing humanitarian missions around the world or our international development work which, over the last few years, has supported over 11 million children in school, helped more than 60 million people get access to clean water and saved millions of girls from child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation.
So despite the flux, we must continue to act to ensure that cultural and racial diversity is seen as one of our nation’s great strengths. For this diversity is something which makes Scotland such an incredible place to live, work and call home.
The STUC has long shown an admirable commitment to challenging racism in all its forms and the Scottish Conservatives are proud to stand with you. Together, we will continue to defend the values we share.
Join us on Saturday at the biggest annual anti-racism event in Scotland: Find out more and let us know you are coming along here.