LEADERS from across the political divide have reflected on the referendum campaign as they marked Scotland’s national day.
While Prime Minister David Cameron used his St Andrew’s Day message to stress the importance of working together for a “successful future”, the new Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she looked to the future with “renewed focus and optimism” after the independence debate.
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Just over two months ago Scots voted to stay part of the United Kingdom, with 55% voting for the union and rejecting independence in the referendum.
Mr Cameron said the Saltire would be flying “proudly” above 10 Downing Street today as he told how he was “just one of the millions of people who were relieved, proud and delighted that Scotland decided to stay”.
He added: “There was one big message at the heart of our campaign: We can have a strong UK and a strong Scotland - with its own identity and achievements to celebrate. That’s what St Andrew’s Day is all about.
“As we celebrate St Andrew’s Day, we celebrate Scotland, this great nation of culture and enterprise, of pride and passion, whose countrymen and women gave the world the steam engine, the television, penicillin, James Bond, Harry Potter - even the Higgs boson. Today, Scotland’s national day, the world shows its admiration for those achievements, and the bagpipes will ring out from the islands of Argyll to the streets of New York.”
The Prime Minister continued: “Everywhere you look around the globe, people want a bit of Scotland: in Australia, where tartan is proudly worn; in the Bahamas and Canada, where haggis is eaten; and in France, where they drink more Scotch in a month than they do Cognac in a year.
“This St Andrew’s Day, we will be celebrating that huge global reach, flying the flag for Scotland at our UK embassies and high commissions.
“And when I think of the Saltire, set against the sun in Dar es Salaam, billowing in the Ottawa wind, I think of all the incredible things that we are doing, together, as a United Kingdom, whether it is our aid workers in West Africa saving people from the deadly Ebola virus, our security forces keeping us all safe from the threat of Isil or our businesses taking on the world - and winning.
“The key to a successful future is working, as one, for the good of us all. That is why all of us - in every corner of our country - will be celebrating St Andrew’s Day and why nowhere will the Saltire be flown more proudly than here, above 10 Downing Street.”
Ms Sturgeon, who succeeded Alex Salmond as both First Minister and SNP leader earlier this month, said St Andrew’s Day was “a wonderful time to reflect on Scotland’s many contributions to the world - our people, our history and our culture”.
She stated: “2014 has been a year like no other for Scotland, during which we welcomed the world to for our Year of Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“The referendum debate was a wonderful display of peaceful democracy in action which re-energised our politics and challenged all politicians to respond to the expectations and aspirations of our citizens. As we reflect on the past, we look to the future with renewed focus and optimism.”
Ms Sturgeon said Scotland was an “outward looking nation” and added: “As First Minister, I recognise the importance of Scotland working together with our friends in Europe and across the globe to secure a better, more prosperous and peaceful future for all.”
Shadow Scottish secretary, Margaret Curran said: “St Andrew’s Day is about celebrating Scotland and the values we hold dear. Those values of fairness, equality and solidarity that have always been so much of what it means to be Scottish.
“This year we have seen people across the country involved in a strong and passionate debate about our future and how we make Scotland the fairer and better place we want it to be. I don’t doubt the passion of anyone - Yes or No supporter - to make Scotland a better place to live, work and raise a family. And on this St Andrew’s Day, we should commit ourselves again to working together to make that better Scotland a reality for this, and coming, generations of Scots.”
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