I never in my life thought I would be able to attend the inauguration of an American president, to hear them utter the historic oath, declared in public in front of the masses in a way that the traditions of the United Kingdom have never permitted.
Now today it is as if I am there, albeit still in the warmth of an English hearth. I am not jealous that the crowds milling in Washington DC and assembled in the other cities of North America far outstrip those mighty assemblies that once gathered for some reason to hear my modest words, in Edinburgh and the great cities of the north, Newcastle, Leeds and so many other places.
The election of the new president and the enthusiasm for such an event has shown that the United States continues to be a nation where democracy is strong, where indeed it has been revived. It is a sad contrast with a country where questions of governance seem to be greeted by so many people with cynicism and apathy and where few politicians seem able to offer leadership based on genuine hope.