All change as the Executive becomes the Government
THE Scottish Executive is to be renamed the Scottish Government this week in the biggest change to the country's political identity since devolution.
First Minister Alex Salmond is to officially declare that, from tomorrow, all documents, letters and publicity material should carry the new name in what he says is a "common sense change".
At the same time, the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom will be removed from all the Scottish Government's official documents and replaced with a saltire.
Yesterday, workmen began to pull down the "Scottish Executive" sign outside the government's Victoria Quay building in Leith. Today, the new signage will be erected prior to the official re-branding.
Salmond's move comes seven years after the then Labour-led Scottish Executive first aired the possibility of changing the name, after complaints that the old title was meaningless to most
people. It triggered a backlash from Labour MPs, who argued that the move represented "the break-up of the United Kingdom".
Last night, UK ministers launched a fresh attack, claiming the move was a "waste of money". Salmond will spend 100,000 on the changes, which they say will be spent on designing new signs and developing the new corporate image.
Salmond will mark the re-branding this Wednesday, when the SNP government's legislative programme will become the first official document to officially bear the new title.
However, despite the name change, the "Scottish Executive" will continue to be the legal name of the government in Scotland and will still be used in the text of bills and contracts. A legal change would have required a change to the Scotland Act, which ministers decided was not needed at this time.
The move comes as Salmond prepares to move into phase two of his term in office, following a highly successful summer when he has seen his poll ratings soar.
He will mark the new term in office with a series of bills this week, including plans to abolish the graduate endowment. He will also flesh out plans to devolve firearms legislation to Holyrood.
A Scottish Government source said: "The research clearly shows that the term 'Scottish Executive' is confusing or meaningless to people, which undermines the business of good government in Scotland.
"That has been recognised across the political parties and under successive administrations since 1999. The time is right to make this common-sense change, as the term 'Scottish Government' far more accurately explains the good work that we do on behalf of the people of Scotland. It will be rolled out on a cost-effective basis and funded entirely from existing marketing and facilities and estates budgets."
The source added: "The bottom line is that this administration has already delivered savings of around 50m through our commitment to cutting bureaucracy and reversing wasteful decisions taken by the previous administration. In other words, the cost of changing to the Scottish Government over the whole period is just 0.2% of the savings we have already identified."
But David Cairns, Scotland Office minister, said: "It just seems to me, at the time when our schools and hospitals are facing difficulties, to spend this money for the sake of Alex Salmond's vanity is just a waste of money."
He added: "The fact remains that the SNP has failed to convince Scots to buy Scottish separatism, and changing symbols on a crest isn't going to change that."
The debate over the name change began in 2001 when Labour's then chief whip Tom McCabe declared he was "open" to a name change. Ministers were said to have been lobbying in private for a change, complaining that the public did not have a grasp of their roles.
A poll subsequently found that 71% of people backed a change of name, with only 29% saying that the 'Scottish Executive' should remain.
The Scottish Lib Dems are also behind the move, while Labour leader-in-waiting Wendy Alexander has, in recent weeks, also begun to use the term 'Scottish Government' during debates.
Salmond's aides say they have conducted research which shows that, apart from Northern Ireland, there is not one English-speaking country where the term "Executive" is used to describe any layer of government.
In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government was launched in March 2002.
However, the removal of the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom from official papers is sure to raise objections from Unionists.
The crest depicts a crowned lion, symbolising England, and a unicorn, symbolising Scotland.
A saltire design to replace the Coat of Arms will be unveiled tomorrow. SNP Ministers have already ensured that the saltire has a prominent place on the Scottish Government's website.
SNP officials also say they will consider changing current guidance on the flying of flags from government buildings to ensure that the saltire is flown outside Scottish Government buildings on every day of the year.
Currently, it must be replaced by the Union flag on certain special days, such as the Queen's birthday.
Other famous rebrandings:
MARATHON - SNICKERS
The chocolate bar made by Mars changed its name in Britain and Ireland in 1999 to bring it into line with the US.
JIF - CIF
Cleaning product Jif became Cif in 2001, partly because it was thought Europeans had problems pronouncing the 'J'.
WINDSCALE - SELLAFIELD
The nuclear power plant on the Cumbrian coast was renamed Sellafield because the word Windscale was regarded as stark and forbidding.
POLL TAX - COMMUNITY CHARGE
The tax proposed by the Tories in the 1980s was recognisably a poll tax, but Margaret Thatcher's version was renamed to make it more voter-friendly.
ST PETERSBURG - PETROGRAD - LENINGRAD - ST PETERSBURG
The Russian city became Petrograd in 1914, then Leningrad in 1924, reverting to its original name in 1991.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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