Leaders: ‘Unity in diversity’ is the true spirit of the Jubilee
IT WAS surely only a matter of time before “the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee” featured in the political debate over independence.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has lost no time with a speech today urging that the case for the Union needs to be made across England, while admitting that English patriotism has been too long neglected by Labour.
Looking at the massive crowds drawn to the celebrations, the warmth and sense of shared identity and the huge television audiences, both here and across the world, it is natural that politicians should take notice. Millions felt an enormous surge of national pride that here was an occasion that met the need for belonging and enabled people of all classes, ages and backgrounds to come together. What political institution or cause would not dream of being able to capture a fraction of such support?
Scots, for reasons of history, culture and geography, tend to be less demonstrative and more ambivalent towards monarchy. But our feelings of national pride are no less strong and are clearly evident in sporting and cultural occasions. Mr Miliband takes the narrow English nationalists to task for their indifference to Scottish independence and to the ending of the Union that a Nationalist victory would entail.
But what the Jubilee celebrations may also have awoken in the Labour leader is a concern that his party may have lost a potent connection with the heartland of England, having tended in the past to look askance at expressions of national identity and sentiment and to be mistrustful of the assertion of Englishness. These have long been viewed, particularly on the Left, with suspicion and disdain. On this perspective, Mr Miliband’s message may be seen as an appeal directed at his traditional supporters to mend their ways.
He is right, of course, that the constitutional future of the Union should be of concern of all across the UK and not so shrugged-off that its fate comes to be determined by one small part. That does not mean that the rest of the UK should be mobilised in some bloc veto of Scottish nationalist aspirations.
Rather, it is an assertion that our national identity and pride are bound up with the values of inclusion, diversity, tolerance and respect for others; and that the agencies and institutions of the UK need to reflect those values more closely than they do. A retreat into narrow nationalism on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall will be to the detriment of the Union.
Many Scots struck by the popular warmth generated by the Jubilee celebrations will share his concern they are being asked to choose between one national identity and another. We enjoy the freedom to appreciate both and to move freely and unfettered between them. This “unity in diversity” theme is a potent argument for the Union, and more needs to be made of it, long after the memory of those astonishing Jubilee scenes has faded.
Action must be taken now
Searching questions are now in order over the circumstances surrounding the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh. NHS Lothian’s incident management team has responded quickly to the outbreak and is now hopeful that, while the number of suspected cases has not yet peaked, a decline is expected over the next few days.
We earnestly hope this will prove the case, given the grave threat this condition poses and the speed with which it can spread. According to health secretary Nicola Sturgeon, the suspected source was environmental contamination and early indications suggest the outbreak resulted from a contaminated cloud being emitted from a cooling tower. After the first case was reported last Thursday, some 16 cooling towers were treated with chemicals on Sunday and Monday to kill the bacteria.
Further tests will be needed to pinpoint the source of the outbreak and the circumstances leading up to the contamination. Professor Hugh Pennington echoes the concerns of many as to how such outbreaks continue to occur, given the marked tightening of environmental regulation in recent years and the availability of chemicals to deal with contamination swiftly and effectively.
Regular inspection and treatment should surely be a component part of any regime for companies and institutions using cooling towers. It should not be necessary to wait until an outbreak of contamination – particularly one with fatal consequences and which has caused a considerable number to fall seriously ill – before action is taken.
Environmental agencies must follow up swiftly to ensure tighter regular monitoring of all such facilities.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North