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 Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
The timing of this march and rally isn’t incidental. St Andrew himself is international. Treasured here and the inspiration behind the saltire flag, but also the patron saint of Greece, Russia, Romania and Barbados. His relics have been scattered as far as Istanbul, Amalfi and Warsaw and he’s a famed figure in both Maltese and Georgian history. You might not have envisioned ties between Bridgetown and Buchan but this biblical figure has achieved just that.
St Andrew’s colourful life and the adventure his bones were taken on after his death teach us a fair few lessons about the close connections and overlaps we have with people around the world. The shared history, the similarities. That’s something we should all keep in mind.
Scotland is a warm, welcoming and embracing place. But let’s not kid ourselves that it is free of hatred and bigotry.
This summer the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sikh temple and a methodist church in Edinburgh were attacked. In May, Dunfermline Central Mosque was the target of a hateful act. Scotland still has a way to go with acceptance and tolerance. The STUC’s annual march is a chance for the progressive majority among us to show their unity in the face of persistent prejudice.
None of us can afford to be lax when racism or injustice continues to rear its head in the 21st century. We have a duty to march up the Royal Mile to protest Donald Trump’s visit, to condemn Aung San Suu Kyi and revoke her honours for the irresponsible leadership she’s shown in the face of Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya people, and to highlight the ongoing plight of the Windrush generation and Chagossian refugees.
The Liberal Democrats tirelessly make the positive case for immigration. We’re defenders of human rights and stand in resolute opposition to any attempt to withdraw the UK from the European Convention. We’re brimming with ideas about how to improve diversity, care for and welcome refugees, tackle modern slavery and improve the lives of people living around the world through international development and standing up for liberal values.
If we go full circle back to St Andrew, it’s worth noting he is also the patron saint of fishmongers, singers, gout sufferers and those with sore throats. It seems he has a knack for bringing together the disparate and detached. This St Andrew’s day when the crowds march against racism in Glasgow we should each take a leaf out of Jo Cox’s book and reflect on what unites us, rather than what divides us.
Read part 1: Patrick Harvie MSP, leader of the Scottish Green Party
Read part 2: Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party
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.