We can unleash our nation’s true potential - Ian Murray

Scotland’s whisky is in high demand around the globe (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Scotland’s whisky is in high demand around the globe (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Scotland’s whisky is in high demand around the globe (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
For a country of only 5.5 million people, we punch well above our weight on the international stage. While there might have been a couple of recent disappointments on the football and rugby pitches, the strength of “Brand Scotland” is immense.

Whether that is tourism, heritage, innovation or exports like energy and food and drink, our contribution is already awe-inspiring. But there is still so much more potential being stifled by government.

This week, the Scottish Parliament discussed the resilience of our food and drink sector – our amazing whisky, salmon, beef and lamb that is in such high demand around the globe. Salmon being the UKs largest food export.

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With tens of thousands of jobs dependent on the industry, its economic importance is beyond doubt. Yet exporters have been left battling with economic chaos caused by the Tories here at home, the shambolic handling of the post-Brexit relationship with our neighbours, and the SNP’s anti-business agenda.

One government is obsessed with picking fights with Europe and the other wants to pick fights with Westminster. For all his talk of a “reset” with businesses, Humza Yousaf and the SNP will always look inwards – that is the nature of nationalism. We need to do more to sell Scotland to the rest of the world, and the Scotland Office has a vital role to play in that.

It was encouraging this week to read a report from the Scottish Affairs Committee in the Commons, which said that Scottish and UK government officials work well together behind-the-scenes. That’s the way it should be, and it was how devolution was always intended to work.

But the politicians who ultimately make the decisions too often devote their time to engaging in constitutional warfare. If Labour wins the next General Election, the Scotland Office will have a relentless focus on Scotland in the world – with a clear vision to grow the economy, create jobs and promote Brand Scotland. We’ll work with the UK Government’s unrivalled network of diplomats to amplify Brand Scotland.

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The Scottish Secretary should be leading trade missions in partnership with Scottish businesses around the world. Why? To create jobs and wealth here. And there is greater potential to tap into the US and Asian markets in particular. That’s the kind of constructive politics we need to ensure the full potential of Brand Scotland is realised: a window to the world; not just a voice in Westminster.

But it’s not just about exporting our quality products; it’s about attracting investment here too, which also creates jobs. The set-up of GB Energy, headquartered in Scotland, will be an early priority, with around 50,000 highly skilled jobs created as a result.

We can do more to grow our tourism sector, with greater investment in our airports so they can open up more direct international routes to and from Scotland. With Labour in charge of Downing Street, we can adopt an internationalist approach in contrast to the narrow nationalism of the SNP and the confrontational chaos chosen by the Tories.

Anas Sarwar is also working on a plan for economic growth in Scotland ahead of the 2026 Holyrood elections, with Brand Scotland one of his three key themes. This is the kind of partnership approach that our economy needs so that we can unleash our nation’s true potential.

Ian Murray Labour MP for Edinburgh South and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

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