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Scotland at its Best!

Visitors to Scotland don’t normally come for the sunshine - any dry day is normally a welcome bonus for those making their way round our islands, our coastal towns and our national parks.

Yet this year has been the summer to end all summers with our beaches looking like postcards from the Mediterranean for much of June and July.

Now the best of the sunshine looks to be behind us but that won’t see any let up in visitor numbers. In fact, Scotland’s famous hospitality will be put to the test over the next few weeks as our two biggest cities play host to the world.

Four years after the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow’s place as an international sporting city is confirmed with the European Championships.

A full 10 days of swimming, cycling and other pursuits will should yield plenty of excitement, tension and hopefully plenty of medals for Team GB, including home-grown champs Katie Archibald and Ross Murdoch. Glasgow’s sporting venues - the Chris Hoy Velodrome, the Scotstoun Sports Campus and the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike Trails - should be packed.

If sport isn’t your thing, then there will be plenty of choice just an hour away along the M8. The Edinburgh International Festival runs almost the length of the month of August and the city becomes a melting pot of culture. People flock from all over the world to participate in or attend the daily helpings of comedy, arts and music. 

An ever constant in the arts calendar since the post-war period, it attracts people from all over the globe. It’s the world’s best-known cultural festival, proud of its diversity and the launchpad for many careers.

These two events - one an annual event, the other a one-off for Scotland - show us at our best. Outward-looking, inclusive and patriotic, proud that Scotland can be home to global events, laced with our own unique character, yet open to the diversity and new ideas others have to offer, and respectful of differences.

Certain politicians could learn a thing or two from our athletes and performers. Where they have been bold and brave, outward and far-sighted, our political debate is too often parochial and uninspired. What a contrast - the ambition and positivity of our entertainers while elected representatives compete for empty gestures and excuses.  Scotland is not alone in this. It’s no wonder people were calling for Gareth Southgate to take charge of the Brexit negotiations. 

For the next few weeks, our parliaments are closed for summer. Let’s hope politicians take some time to visit the festival or Glasgow 2018, and take some of that mentality into the challenges of the year ahead.

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