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OPINION: We love our music and the world loves it too...

The first single I bought was Ballroom Blitz by the Sweet. While it’s no longer on my frequent playlist, its international longevity is undeniable appearing in blockbusters like Suicide Squad more than forty years after I got my primary school mitts on it.

Like many of my contempories, that early interest in music became an obsession during my teenage years. Every school had multiple bands popping up with dreams of ‘making it big’. For most it remained a dream, for very few those dreams came true and for others their love of music, playing live and touring endures to this day. However, on New Year’s Day 2021 this became much, much harder.

You see, the UK government did not prioritise securing visa-free EU travel for touring musicians and performers – as a result, touring is now a costly and bureaucratic nightmare.

It’s not as if performers haven’t suffered enough. Work, touring and merchandise income has largely ceased during the pandemic. The construction of these additional barriers could halt the sector’s recovery and limit our access to performers from the EU – who are also now required to obtain costly visas, provide proof of savings and evidence of sponsorship.

Some bands are already being forced to cancel tours.

Fife band Aye Hobos were due to take their impending new album Cunk It Up on tour with a reciprocal return from German band the Berlin Blackouts, but this is no longer feasible thanks to the UK government’s Brexit incompetence. This matters.

We love our music, and the world loves it too contributing almost £6bn to the UK economy. World class events like Celtic Connections, Edinburgh International Festival and The Mòd are huge success stories that put Scotland and our talent on the global stage.

Scotland’s international reputation as an open, welcoming and outward looking country is now at risk as our world-leading festivals’ ability to attract international guests is stymied.

I’ve lodged an Early Day Motion calling on the UK government to correct this mess as a matter of urgency. Scotland’s music is one of our greatest exports. From Average White Band to Big Country, Biffy Clyro to Lewis Capaldi and so many others, our music is among the best.

Glam-rockers Sweet might have seemed otherworldly to me in 1973, but frontman Brian Conolly rose from the poverty of Govanhill – an opportunity now all but gone. So much for taking back control.

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