30 years ago

29th April 2005 at 01:00
In a front-page article on devolution, while denouncing the lukewarm pro-Assembly Labour campaign as a "cynical exercise", former Liberal Party leader Jo Grimond turned his attention to the great myth of Scottish education - the "lad o' pairts" (TESS, May 3): For retention of our best, most intelligent and enterprising children we must retain in Scotland the top jobs in the public service, the nationalised industries, the professions, business and education as well as in government . . .

It will be argued at this point that the lad or lass o' pairts has died out and the Scots are no longer anxious to become Andrew Carnegies or even Prime Minister. There is some truth in this. A few years ago, I welcomed it. It seemed to me it might make us less destructive, abrasive and bureaucratic.

But I fear what has happened is that too many of the lads and lasses have retained their appetite for what ambitions can provide without the driving force to earn them. Further, many of them are as hag-ridden by fashion as any of their contemporaries in the world. I detect too little desire to forego coloured televisions or motor cars.

What the modern lad o' pairts too often expects is that his union will carry him safely and dully up the ladder of his expectations, regardless of how well or ill he performs. Bureaucratic mediocrity is rife. The forelock once touched to the laird or minister is now touched to the association organiser.

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