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UK government responds to calls for Scotland to be promoted ‘beyond the tartan’

30 November 2023

The Scottish Affairs Committee has published the UK Government’s response to its report on Promoting Scotland Internationally, in which MPs found the UK and Scottish Governments often collaborate well when promoting Scotland’s interests abroad but more work is needed to highlight modern Scottish successes. 

In its report, the Committee found a clear strategy was needed to ensure UK embassies have access to guidance and clear expectations for holding events on key Scottish dates such as St Andrew’s Day.  

The cross-party group of MPs recommended embassy staff of all levels be trained up on the current Scottish industry landscape and the UK Government’s priorities for Scotland in order to ensure a more consistent base of knowledge. They also found more needed to be done to celebrate contemporary Scottish successes in fields such as scientific research, space and energy in addition to the more traditional attributes of the Scottish brand which still resonate on the international stage. 

In its response, the UK Government highlighted past events but didn’t commit to implementing a strategy for celebrating key dates in the Scottish calendar across all embassies. The UK Government also indicated senior staff receive adequate training but did not commit to giving staff of all levels updated training on the Scottish market and industry landscape. 

The UK Government indicated agreement with the Committee that officials from the UK and Scottish Governments regularly work collaboratively overseas in order to deliver the best possible outcomes, and also acknowledged the importance of maintaining regular communication between teams. 

The UK Government failed, however, to address a number of the Committee’s recommendations, including no commitment to provide specific information on the UK Government’s current priorities and objectives for promoting Scotland internationally. 

Chair comment

Scottish Affairs Committee Chair Pete Wishart MP said:   

“Scotland is home to a fantastic array of research and development organisations, businesses and academic institutions – so it’s critical that Scotland’s success stories are promoted in a consistent and coherent way on the world stage. 

“As a Committee, we found there were differing levels of engagement and knowledge related to Scotland’s key interests around the globe as well as a lack of a clear idea of exactly what the UK Government’s priorities are for promoting Scotland internationally. 

“As Scots worldwide celebrate St Andrew’s Day, I’m disappointed that the extent to which embassies around the globe are telling the nation’s story and celebrating Scottish culture will remain inconsistent. 

“Unfortunately, it was hard to identify a clear plan which will ensure Scotland receives the international recognition it deserves. It is, therefore, difficult to see how the UK Government will fully support Scotland to maximise the potential offered by our brilliant industries.” 

Further information

Image credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor