The Adam Smith Festival of Ideas took place from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th March in Adam Smith’s home town of Kirkcaldy and featured notable guests such as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Shadow Chancellor Ed Miliband. The festival celebrates and seeks to build upon the life, work and ideas of Adam Smith and asks what Scotland will look like in the future.
The weekend was opened by Gordon Brown in his hometown which he represented as an MP from 1983 – 2015 in the form of the Dunfermline East and then Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituencies. Mr Brown spoke of the constitutional future of Scotland a few days after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her proposed timeframe to hold a further independence referendum within two years. He proposed a new federal approach for the United Kingdom, as well as calling upon powers from Brussels to be handed over to devolved institutions post-Brexit, and renaming the Bank of England the ‘Bank of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’.
The Carnegie Club of St Andrews attended the VIP reception keynote address by Gordon Brown and Ed Balls, who they were able to meet. Mr Balls was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2011 – 2015 after having previously served as Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families under Gordon Brown’s premiership. He spoke of the need to unite after the turbulent politics over the last year of Donald Trump’s election and Brexit, as well as setting out his views against Scottish independence in the country’s “history which is of shared common endeavour and rising to meet big challenges together, and this is underpinned by institutions currently valued across the union.” Mr Balls has kept himself busy after losing his seat at the 2015 General Election, becoming a Harvard University fellow, chairman of Norwich City F.C. and in a light-hearted addition to his speech he spoke of his (longer than expected) run on Strictly Come Dancing.
The spirit of Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment is truly alive and well in Fife.