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Coming home

Brian Taylor | 16:53 UK time, Friday, 9 January 2009

What do you make of the Homecoming campaign?

Scottish Ministers are doing their bit this weekend - some, no doubt, under duress - by gallantly witnessing sundry soccer matches.

The reason? It's the Homecoming Scottish Cup - and a chance to punt the festival/concept/initiative, call it what you will.

The first minister, a self-confessed Jambo, is attending Peterhead v Queens Park.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill courageously fits in two games - Stenhousemuir on Saturday and the Edinburgh derby on Sunday.

A gushing news release informs us further that Adam Ingram will be in the stand for "arguably the most romantic tie of the round", Ayr United v Kilmarnock.

There writes someone who hasn't been at Somerset Park for a wee while - although, trust me, I get the Burnsian connection.

Bruce Crawford, minister for parliament and a fanatical Dunfermline supporter, is making the ultimate sacrifice and attending . . . Dunfermline v Clyde.

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop gets the tie of the round - East Stirling versus the mighty Dundee United.

And there's more, too many to list - although, unaccountably, Finance Secretary John Swinney found himself unable to fit in the titanic contest that is Forfar v Forres Mechanics.

Something about a prior engagement.

Hope they all have a fine day and a splendid half-time pie - or, in the case of Forfar, bridie.

Despite this display of Ministerial dedication, it seems likely that the low-level muttering about Homecoming 2009 will continue. Is it fair?

Team Salmond is adamant that early organisational problems - that is, before they took over - have long since been tackled.

The enthusiasm of the promoters is palpable and impressive.

But herewith a few other moans and groans which I have heard. What's the purpose of Homecoming 2009?

Is it to attract expats from the diaspora back to Caledonia - or to foster a sense of Scottish patriotism within the existing residents?

Is it primarily about the arts - or about tourism? Is there much that is authentically new, or does it largely draw together events, like the Edinburgh Festival, which were happening anyway?

By what criteria should we measure success? Visitor numbers? Is that a reasonable guide in a year when the economy is destined for recession?

I freely confess that I am torn here. I am a sucker for Brand Caledonia. Tartan, Burns, the lot.

I think we should play that image for all it is worth. We should tell every visitor that their family name is an honorary sept of the Clan Cameron.

I am just not entirely sure, yet, of the added value of this particular initiative. However, I am quite prepared to suspend judgement until United have lifted the Homecoming Cup that is their right.

Prior to that, I'd welcome your views.


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