Read Lord Laidlaw’s 2020 St Andrews Laidlaw Scholars Celebration and Poster Exhibition Speech: Full Transcript

In my 78 years I have never seen a time when so many leaders in politics, business, the church, and other organisations have behaved so badly.

A time when so many leaders have consistently lied, covered up bad behaviours, condoned corruption, made crony appointments.

The world needs a new generation of leaders – young people like you – who will lead in an honest and ethical way. Who understand and are committed to being leaders with underlying principles of decency and truthfulness.

We need leaders who understand that in business this makes for a more profitable and successful operation.

Who understand that in politics the electorate will tire of lies and vote for decent leaders. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris express so well what we believe in.

Hence, the Foundation’s commitment to identify future leaders, to train them and, most importantly, to build into your DNA respect for and commitment to ethical behaviour.

I have talked about developing leaders but not explained why we think that research is a vital part of your Scholarship. It’s as simple as this: decisions must be based on data and facts, not on how you would like facts to be. Does this ring a bell on what is happening with COVID-19 decisions in the UK, US, Brazil and other countries? Learning about the importance of research, the respect for science and proven fact is part of our belief in creating data-based leadership.

You are these future leaders. At the Foundation, we can only assist you in your journey by encouraging you, by giving you guidance and help, by expanding your knowledge and confidence in your own abilities.

I ask you to use what the Foundation has given you to take on the daunting responsibilities of leadership, and make us all proud of what you accomplish.