Following NHS Fife Chairman Tricia Marwick’s recent claims that the University of St Andrews is “not a Fife University,” Ms Marwick has accepted an invitation to visit the institution.
In Ms Marwick’s now-deleted tweet, she asserts that the University’s students are “poor souls who failed to get into Oxbridge” and “pathetic wee trolls.” She also claims that they are “anti Scottish and anti women.”
Ms Marwick’s comments appear to have been made in response to a recent satirical opinion piece published in The Saint. The article, written by Alexander Sparkes, humorously references the NHS and questions why Scotland has “seemingly 20,000 alternative NHS apps all with ‘Scotland’ in the title.”
Ms Marwick condemned this student publication as “just buy[ing] into every stereotype we Fifers have of [the University].
The purpose of Ms Marwick’s visit is purportedly to “meet staff and students who have been an integral part of NHS Fife’s frontline response to Covid.” It is unclear whether Ms Marwick’s recent statements about the University and its students resulted in the University issuing her an invitation for this meeting.
A spokesperson from the University of St Andrews has confirmed that media presence will not be permitted at this private meeting, the date of which remains unspecified.
In response to Ms Marwick’s recent tweet, NHS Fife issued a disclaimer, stating that it was “posted in a personal capacity from her own social media account. The views expressed in the tweet are her own and do not reflect those of NHS Fife.” Their spokesperson also maintained that: “NHS Fife has a much valued relationship with the University of St Andrews.”
The MP and MSP for North East Fife, Willie Rennie and Wendy Chamberlain, have said that Ms Marwick “must apologise” to the University of St Andrews. In their joint statement, they described her remarks as “wholly unacceptable for the chair of NHS Fife” and “offensive.” They also revisited Ms Marwick’s credentials as NHS Fife Chairman, arguing that the people of Fife, “including the students and staff she has just insulted” had “a right to expect better than this.”
At the time of writing, Ms Marwick has not yet issued an apology.
This is not the first time Ms Marwick’s views on Scottish identity have sparked controversy. In March 2021 Ms Marwick engaged in a Twitter exchange with The Spectator’s Editor, Fraser Nelson, regarding his Scottish heritage. In a since-deleted tweet, Ms Marwick said: “We see you Fraser. We see what you are trying to do. Have never seen you challenge Westminster Governments. Scottish birth does not alone a Scotsman make, sometimes it signifies a Scotsman on the make.”
NHS Fife issued a near-identical disclaimer at the time, stating, “The tweet issued last night and subsequently deleted by Tricia Marwick was posted in a personal capacity on her own social media account.”
Mr Nelson referenced this incident in his assessment of Ms Marwick’s recent Twitter activity, stating that she was “at it again.” He noted that “St Andrews has failed her purity test” in their publication of Mr Sparkes’ criticisms of Scotland.
Illustration: Kate Lau