This morning Flag Up Scotland Jamaica launched a petition calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a formal bilateral partnership with Jamaica, making it a Priority Country for trade and international development as a means of acknowledging that trade with Jamaica has contributed significantly to the foundations of economic growth and prosperity in Scotland and recognising that Scotland should now seek to advance the prosperity of Jamaica.
The petition has the support of Anne McLaughlin, MP for Glasgow North East and Sir Geoff Palmer, Jamaican Professor Emeritus at Heriot Watt University.
Scotland has many links with Jamaica and these begin with Scottish prisoners of war from the Battle of Dunbar and the Jacobite Rebellions being exiled to Jamaica. Later many Scots came to make their fortunes in the slave economy. The consequence is that there is a greater frequency of Scottish surnames in Jamaica than in countries like Canada or New Zealand. A large number of place names in Jamaica are Scottish and include Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Elgin, Roxborough and Culloden. More recently in 1962, a Scottish missionary in Jamaica, William McGhie was responsible for the inclusion of the saltire in the Jamaican flag.
The petition highlights that between 1760 and 1830 the Scottish economy grew from one of the weakest in Europe to becoming one of the most powerful. Profits were made from vast amounts of Jamaican sugar as the old sugar sheds that still exist in Greenock today testify. Other industries in Scotland profited in unexpected ways. The import of linen to clothe slaves in Jamaica increased tenfold between 1765 and 1795. Recent research has confirmed that Scottish slave ownership was higher than in any other part of the United Kingdom.
“I believe we in Scotland do have a moral responsibility towards Jamaica”, commented petitioner Ish Lennox. “I’m calling on the good will of Scottish people to do all we can to improve the lives of ordinary Jamaicans and to encourage righteous ways of trading now.”
“My nation of Jamaica is now the second poorest Caribbean island after Haiti” says Graham Campbell, a Jamaican activist living in Glasgow. “It’s 96th in the Human Development Index while Scotland, as part of the UK, is 14th. I’d like to see a special relationship which helps to lift Jamaicans out of poverty and which will also be culturally enriching for Scotland.”
The petition is open to all and is available to be signed until the 20th November at www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01585
For more information on Flag Up Scotland Jamaica and the links between the two nations visit www.flagupscotjam.uk