Setting off

3 04 2009

Scotland Week 2009 is (almost) underway. After far too little sleep I have just boarded the flight to New York (via Amsterdam) leaving the haar behind in the early dawn of Edinburgh.

Haar (sea fog) in Edinburgh

Haar (sea fog) in Edinburgh

Over the next 8 days I will be doing my best to promote Scotland in New York, Toronto and Vancouver as part of the North American Scotland Week celebrations. This is my first Scotland Week and I hope (with the help of colleagues that are with me) to post some regular blogs. Comments will be welcomed.

When I was last in North America (last September to unveil the Settlers Memorial in Winnipeg) I was very struck by the real and living links that exist between our countries and cultures. No doubt that whether it is through family links, shared origin or common experience – there is a real connection.

So on this trip I will be talking about and celebrating the past, present and future of Scotland and its place in the wider world, including our National Conversation which is a key means to update who we are and what we want to achieve. My first event today will be meeting with the students from the RSAMD who will be showing the Americans just how impressive our young musicians are and setting up ways to utilise their worldwide Alumni Network. Then tomorrow it is the Tartan Day Parade, about which more later!

But on a personal note, one of the young pipers I will be joining on the steps of Carnegie Hall is young Alastair Henderson from Dunoon, whom I have often heard before and who is an exceptional talent. Piping is in his family too – his uncle taught my son to play!

Nicola Sturgeon and Jim Mather will also be arriving in the US over the next few days. Our paths don’t cross though, at least according to the meticulous and detailed programmes we all have. However, our aim is the same – to promote Scotland and get the best we can for our country, particularly during these challenging times in terms of the economy.

Hope you keep reading this I will try to update later today from the Big Apple.




9 responses

3 04 2009
Malcolm Cole

I was initially cross that taxpayers’ money was going on this self-indulgent blog.

Then I read in it that the National Conversation has now been downgraded to an “update” on “who we are and what we want to achieve”. It used to be the smokescreen for independence. Now it’s just an update. Good.

I am also glad that a wider section of politicians (not just the SNP) are going to Tartan Week from the Parliament to show that not everyone in Scotland is obsessed about narrow nationalism.

4 04 2009
Michael Russell

The National Conversation is about the future of our nation – and it is a genuinely open discussion. Surely working out where we want to go and how we want to get there is a task we should all be engaged in given the real difficulties we now face. Ruling out options or refusing to let our friends and neighbours in on the discussion doesn’t seem to me to be a good way to build confidence in what we can do, and what we need to do.

3 04 2009
Steven Manson

Yes, arguing for your country’s independence is narrow, indeed. For goodness sake, it’s the most natural thing to man. To be free.

3 04 2009
Lucy Fraser

Malcolm Cole isn’t wordpress free so what’s your gribe? Surely any political party in power would try to promote Scotland abroad? sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut!

4 04 2009

Best wishes for Scotland Week 2009 to Mr. Russell and the team.
I’m sure you will all do your very best for Scotland.

Dear oh dear, its people like Malcolm Cole that keep Scotland back.

There are some who still argue for the status quo and it is one we should not be fooled into believing at any level. The argument is something along the lines that independence or political autonomy is an irrelevance and a distraction from the real issues facing Scotland. Unfortunately it neglects to account for the fact that the problems in Scotland are as a result of political impotency, fiscal dependency, and a distorted decision-making process. The only way to address these issues is for the Scottish people to have full control of their political institutions so that decision-makers can create policy and directions that suit and benefit the Scottish people. If there is genuine concern with improving Scotland then they would be arguing for political autonomy and so would desire an end to political paralysis. I’m sure, however, they may say they believe in greater powers within the Union, but devolution-max will never address the needs of the Scottish people. It would only tinker around the edges of Scottish democracy. Power devolved is power retained. The only logical proposition is to determine our own destiny in the political world and it is a shame that such people have yet to take that intellectual leap because I guess a feeling of subservience and inferiority dictates otherwise.
Only Scotland should decide on Scotland’s future.

5 04 2009
Malcolm Cole

Annie, you and the First Minister are at one: as he said when he went to America, Scotland will “only” be succesful following independence. So, it begs the question of why go to America to persuade people to invest here before then? Surely they will listen to Alex and Annie and wait until after independence?

4 04 2009
Bill McCondichie, Argyll

Malcolm Cole’s comment is typical of narrow unionism. The SNP that I am a part of Malcolm is widely nationalist and inter-nationalist.

Comments such as Malcolm’s serve only as an inspiration to us to keep going–and arrive at our destination as quickly as possible.

Greetings, Mike, from Dalriada branch of the SNP. Enjoy your trip.

Bill McCondichie. Achnamara. (The sun is shining!!)

6 04 2009
Ken MacColl

Interesting to get a direct report from our travelling Minister and the opportunity to comment.
Ignore the “naysayers” the “cannae” Scots, they are being marginalised day by day.
Glad to hear that the sun is shining in Achnamara; doubtless Martin Cole will be muttering darkly, “You’ll pay for it!”

10 04 2009
Get Your Ex Back

The style of writing is very familiar . Have you written guest posts for other blogs?

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