New year messages across the nations

Ed Jacobs reviews the New Year messages from leaders across the nations.

Ed Jacobs reviews the New Year messages from leaders across the nations.

Scotland

2014 will be an historic year for Scotland, and one where all eyes will be upon the country as it prepares to decide whether it wants to become an independent country, breaking its historic role within the United Kingdom.

Delivering his message for the New Year, first minister Alex Salmond has looked ahead to a year which will also include Scotland hosting the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup as well as hosting a year of “Homecoming”. Looking ahead however to the main event in September, Salmond has said:

“Let’s ensure that the debate over the next nine months is a constructive one – where we respect each other’s views, regardless of how passionately we hold our own.

“Let’s also ensure that we take this chance to think about the sort of country we want Scotland to become.

“Let’s not wake up on the morning of 19 September next year and think to ourselves what might have been. Let’s wake up on that morning filled with hope and expectation – ready to build a just and prosperous nation.”

He continued:

“Scotland has already shaped much of the modern world. Let’s make sure that 2014 the year when we take responsibility for shaping our own future.”

For the Better Together Campaign, its head, Alistair Darling, called on Scotland to move forward united and ultimately to ensure that whatever the decision made in September, it is decisive. He explained:

“As we enter the referendum year, the debate will often be passionate – that is understandable as we make a historic and irreversible decision. However that debate must not descend into division.

“First and foremost we should not divide Scotland. One thing we all have in common, yes, no or undecided, is that we love Scotland and want the best for our children’s future. We are all looking forward to an exciting year where we will cheer on our sports stars here in Scotland. There are patriots on both sides of this debate and we should respect each other for that.

“Whatever decision we make this referendum year it needs be decisive. It is important that we are certain of where we will stand in the future. No one wants this debate on independence to drag on into another year. That means all of us in Scotland should resolve to vote in September and to make sure that the decision we make is decisive.”

He continued:

“I’m certain that we all have far more in common than we have differences and that we are all stronger when we come together. I’m certain that the people of this island belong together in the United Kingdom.

“By the time we celebrate Hogmanay next year we’ll have made our decision and there is no going back on it. Let’s make sure that we make the right decision for our family and for Scotland. Let’s make sure we’re better and stronger together.”

Wales

In a message that largely reflected what Wales achieved last year, first minister Carwyn Jones has nevertheless pledged to re-double efforts to tackle the cost of living crisis facing many families in Wales. Whilst noting the work the Welsh government has done to boost employment and foreign investment, he said:

“Despite the hard-fought economic progress, I fully recognise that life continues to be tough for many people in Wales. Spiralling living costs, combined with changes to the welfare system, are clearly impacting upon people’s ability to meet day-to-day costs. That is why we will continue to do everything we can to support people through this difficult period.

“2013 has been an important year in the devolution journey of Wales. The UK government response to the recommendations of the Silk Commission is a significant milestone and will give us the powers we need to continue to deliver for the people of Wales.”

Building on the referendum in Scotland, Plaid Cymru’s Leader Leanne Wood has called on Wales to be “able to stand in its own two feet, without need for handouts from elsewhere.” Declaring 2014 to be an “important year” she continued:

“For too long Welsh people have been prepared to accept second best. We have been prepared to shrug off poor performance or languishing at the bottom of the league tables.

“I would like to see 2014 be the year when Wales says NO to mediocrity.

“NO to poor economic performance, NO to children failing to reach their best educational potential and NO to an inaccessible health service unable to deliver.

“Instead, let’s say YES to aiming to be the best. Let’s say YES to ambition. Let’s say YES to Wales co-operating with others on the European stage and Let’s say YES to putting Wales first.”

Northern Ireland

Across Northern Ireland, its political leaders have sought to emphasise that despite no formal agreement having been reached over the Hass propsoals on dealing with flags, parades and the past, 2014 will be a year in which efforts to tackle these thorny issues will be renewed.

In thanking Richard Hass and his team for his efforts, DUP first minister Peter Robinson commented:

“I do not recognise as accurate reports of “Talks Failure” given the wide gulf that existed on the Haass team’s arrival and the broad areas of agreement on their departure.  Yes, every party had, and expressed, concerns about features in the final product but I detect from each of the parties a willingness to “work on” to complete the task.  We must consider how best to do this in the near future. 

“However, I think it is right that parties should first discuss the working report internally within their own structures while encouraging constructive debate more widely.  We each must identify, not only areas where improvements are being sought, but also, how the problems identified by others can be accommodated in a way that does no injury to our own deeply held positions.

“I will recommend to my party colleagues that they support the suggestion made by Dr Haass that a “working group” be established to see how agreed elements can be taken forward while seeking to resolve areas where disagreement remains.

“We must not lose the momentum and we each should take care that areas of agreement are not allowed to unravel.”

His words were echoed by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who used his New Year message to explain:

“Sinn Féin is committed to ensuring the full implementation of the Good Friday and all other Agreements.

“I want to thank Dr. Richard Haass, Meghan O Sullivan, Charlie Landow and their team and our colleagues in all five parties represented in the recent all-party talks.

“The proposals issued by Dr Haass represent a significant step forward.When the other parties and the two governments have had time to reflect on these, there must be a collective effort to find a way forward.

“That is the will of the people as we enter into another New Year and it is certainly the intention of Sinn Fein.”

2 Responses to “New year messages across the nations”

  1. dougthedug

    “Ed Jacobs reviews the New Year messages from leaders across the nations.”

    You’ve got the elected leader and opposition leader from the Northern Ireland Parliament and the elected leader and opposition leader from the Welsh Assembly so why is Alistair Darling representing the opposition in the Scottish Parliament as he’s not a member of the Scottish Parliament. It should be the message from Johann Lamont who leads Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

    And where’s England? I thought they were a British nation too.

  2. uglyfatbloke

    Be reasonable Doug – few people know who Johann Lamont is and those who do are not likely to be very impressed. All the same, Darling is in a difficult position so long as Cameron refuses to debate with Salmond. If he’s willing to deploy government departments to create arguments against the gnats he should be prepared to take responsibility for defending his position. Blair would have done so and so would Brown. Say what you like about either of them, they were n’t cowardly. As a back-bench opposition MP in a different parliament Darling can hardly expect to get debate time with the First Minister for he same reason that Salmond could not reasonably expect to get in the ‘Leaders Debates’ at the last GE.
    Equally, this is probably Darling’s last chance top be in the forefront of political life since he’s very likely to lose his seat at the next GE (though I’m told he’s thinking – like Carmichael – of standing down anywayso you can hardly blame him for making the best of it.

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