Auld Alliance

MONDAY BROUGHT SATISFACTION to everyone at the WS Society reflecting on a memorable Annual Dinner last Friday, evident from these photographs. Long after 1 am in the lower library, Writers to the Signet and senior legal figures were still socialising with friends and guests from business, journalism, academia, cultural and charity sectors. This year’s event had special resonance, with a focus on the “Auld Alliance” to mark the one year anniversary of the tragic attacks in Paris. With the tricolour of France flying for the first time ever above the Signet Library, guests stood for a minute’s silence to remember the victims of conflict. The silence was broken by the lone voice of Robert Marshall WS singing La Marseillaise with many guests joining in the anthem. Guest speaker was French journalist Philippe Auclair who spoke of the bonds between Scotland and France:

“This is a precious relationship indeed, which has survived the passage of centuries; that has survived political and religious upheaval. We can poke fun at each other, but without malice. We Scots and French share some intellectual reflexes – one of them being how we instinctively, and throughout our societies, regardless of class, favour reason over prejudice – enough for reason to prevail in the end. How we value education. How we both are and remain children of the Enlightenment; in fact, we may be the two nations which embraced it with the most enthusiasm in Europe, and contributed to it the most in all fields of human knowledge and activity. Heaven knows how we need to hang on to the values of that age, more than ever. The Auld Alliance shows us the way. And if we keep to that path, we shall not go wrong.”

FRENCH CONSUL GENERAL Emmanuel Cocher thanked the WS Society for its gesture of friendship. Several of the international guests commented they had been moved to tears on a number of occasions. Lord Mackay wound up the formalities in peerless fashion, noting the fate of the Scots gene that is part of the makeup of President Elect Donald Trump.

NO SIGN OF GUESTS nodding off during proceedings – unlike at the Mansion House dinner, where, if the Daily Mail is to be believed, several struggled to keep their eyes open during Prime Minister Theresa May’s address. 

ON TUESDAY GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND Mark Carney seemed wide awake when questioned by the Treasury Select Committee on rumours of a deteriorating relationship with the PM. “It’s very important to distinguish between the stance of monetary policy and the reasons why global interest rates are low, the reasons why inequality has increased across major economies,” Carney said in evidence. “Those are caused by much more fundamental factors. And an excessive focus on monetary policy in many respects is a massive blame deflection exercise.” 

TUESDAY ALSO brought the leak of a consultant’s report that caused annoyance in government when its contents were leaked to newspapers: “Whitehall struggling to cope and no single plan” The Guardian reported. According to government sources, the report, rumoured to come from one of the big four accountants was “unsolicited” and unlikely to improve the view of some in the current administration on the contribution of “experts”. 

CRITICISM OF JUDICIAL EXPERTS continued this week after it was reported that Lady Hale, one of the 11 supreme court judges who will rule on the governments appeal on triggering article 50, had mused on the case to a gathering of legal students in Kuala Lumpur. Amongst the questions she raised was the issue of whether PM Theresa May would have to repeal all 1972 legislation before she could launch the Brexit process. Pro-leave MPs were furious that the case was being discussed in this manner before the Supreme Court hearing. Douglas Carswell, Ukip's only MP, told The Telegraph: "If their lordships have decided their verdict already they might let us know in the supreme court in Britain, not in Malaysia.” The real-life legal drama of Brexit would seem to still have many episodes to come.

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.