The Union Flag

Stirling Council are to debate removing the Saltire from the Council headquarters in favour of the Union Flag. A writer, Mark Smith, writes in the Herald today about how much the Saltire makes him cringe. Mark talks about his view of the Union Flag, the merged colours, flying at the Proms and the Olympics, and hates how it has been mis-used in Irish Politics.

You won’t be surprised that I disagree with both Mark and Stirling Council. For as long as I can remember the Union flag has gotten on my nerves. As a youngster I used to get really confused that it was flown for everything English, it was the English flag. In school you were told it was the British flag but every time England celebrated something there it was. You were basically told to worship at the altar of the Union flag. I don’t think I knew what a Saltire was until I was in my teens, but that is hardly a surprise given I was taught virtually no Scottish history at school, but an awful lot of English history. The Scottish history I was taught appeared to centre around getting our arse kicked from the English. Now please don’t think this an anti-English rant, it is not, my experiences are my experiences and I can’t change them.

However, as I learned more about my country, and about the United Kingdom, the more I came to hate the Union Flag. This flag is used not as a way to bring us closer together but to remind us of how small we are. It has become a symbol of privilege to some and a weapon to shame us to others. During the jubilee and the London Olympics you were somehow unpatriotic if you didn’t wave one, that was fine with me as I was interested in neither. On the news during the riots those that rioted were accused of bringing shame on the flag, Mark Smith says in his article that it should not just be associated with negative things like empire building, warmongering etc. Well Mark I’m sorry but that is exactly what it is. Mark, think about about when it is flown, at Jubilees, at Londons Olympics, when the the UK rides to war, at the Tory party Conference, at Thatchers funeral, the Unionist riots in Belfast and by the BNP and the EDL. It is a flag dominated by the St.George Cross, a flag that has been used over the last 300 years to promote the dominance of the English. An empire that brought misery to millions, and continues to do so even today as countries freed from its tyrany have struggled to find their own peace and democracy, and maybe they don’t know who they are because of it what it stands for.

The Union Flag flies centre pole in Dundee City and the Saltire to the left and lower down. That says it all really about what we are to the state, now I appreciate there are stupid rules about when and how it should be flown and all that guff, but to myself it is about who we are and who some of us want to be. Mark Smith is entitled to his opinion, and I will defend that, he is entitled to feel more British than Scottish and to support the Union but Mark needs to remember that for the very reasons that he wants to fly the Union flag there are many who will never accept it.

I don’t accept it because I am some knuckle dragging Scottish patriot who hates everything that is not Scottish. I don’t accept it because I am some small-minded fool who dreams of heather and porridge for all. My two oldest children are half American/Japanese and my youngest son has dual nationality and is half Ghanaian.

No the reasons I will never ever wave the Union Flag or even stand for the national anthem is how it makes me feel. The Union flag makes me feel small, it makes me feel ashamed of being told I am British, it makes me feel that there are us and there are them, and it stands up for the privilege in this country that I can’t accept from the unelected Royal family, the fake titles, to people who have rule over us and don’t deserve the privilege.

The Saltire, that Mark says in his article has been hijacked by the nationalists and makes him cringe, that ‘ represents a narrowing of perspective, a separation, a reduction of identity from a large friendly group of nations to a single small one‘ for me has become a symbol of hope. It’s not just a symbol for 90 minutes at Hampden or abroad anymore. It’s not even a symbol of our history for me, no, the Saltire is a symbol of what we can become in the world and how we can interact in it. Next years vote is not about money or power on the world stage, next year it is about democracy, is about taking our place in the world, it’s about a better future and it’s about saying there is a different way, a better way.

Not only will a YES vote be liberating for Scotland, it will be liberating for England, Wales and Northern Ireland too. It will allow our neighbours and friends to think about their place in the world and their destiny, what they want to be. The Union Flag should be put away in a museum now, not to be totally forgotten, but as a symbol of the past, and while it saw some great achievements and advances in science, engineering etc that were made in its time, it’s mostly a symbol of tyranny and oppression around the world in my opinion, it’s a symbol of privilege and of royalty. It’s not my flag and never will be, so to Stirling Council and Mark Smith of the herald I say you are wrong.

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18 comments

  1. pa_broon74

    Excellent post.

    I have no idea where the Herald digs these people up, surely Mark Smith is just trolling.

    Like I said, flags are subjective but they’re also collectively symbolic in that they can unite or repel people. Trying to convince people your flag is better or more innocent/less guilty is a bit like trying to convince someone your favourite colour is better than theirs.

    For what its worth, the union jack isn’t my flag, I don’t identify with it at all, for me it has negative connotations and symbolises an unhealthy preoccupations with, well, occupation. It represents a British State which seeks to maintain an artificial superiority over the countries upon which it greedily & unfairly squats.

    Equally, I understand others may feel differently – even in the face of demonstrable fact.

    The Saltire makes Mark Smith cringe? Well Mark Smith makes me cringe.

    • Anonymous

      Pa

      I agree, I don’t go mental about the Saltire or the Union Flag as they are just symbols. mark talks about them being symbols but then uses this to attack his countryman who just happen to have a different opinion to himself. Flags mean many things to many people but I suspect for many the Union flag around the world means nothing other than a past they would rather forget.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Tris

        Great post Bruce. Actually I was gonna write a lot here, but basically, I just agree with what you said and what Pa said

        I’m not about flags. I don’t really give a damn about them. That’s not what the whole discussion is, but you are right that for a lot of us the Union flag is about Empire, Cricket, English, Superiority, Military, Royalty, Domination, Clout… all the things that Cameron thinks are important adn I think are not.

        • Anonymous

          Tris

          Thanks for your comment. When I read the article this morning for lots of different reason it was just wrong and I felt the need to write down how I felt, Looking at Wings it looks like many others did also and that is a good thing for debate.

  2. Feddans

    You said it would be a moan. I think you make a lot of good points. You allow others to have other opinions and state yours forcefully. May the Saltire come to be known as a force for peace and liberty. Wow that would be classy.

    • Anonymous

      Feddans

      Thank you for your comment. My blog is really just my opinion, I try to not make it personal or confrontational that some other blogs are. The article today just made me want to express an opinion and I am really happy that others find something I have to say interesting.

  3. antmcg

    @Grumpyscottishman,

    Thank you for you for posting this. I am totally in agreement with you.

    I live in Edinburgh and every morning on my way to work, I have to pass Edinburgh Castle. Every day, I have to suffer seeing the indignity of seeing a foreign nations flag flying above our castle.

    To some that won’t mean much, but enough is enough… High time they replaced it, with the Saltire, the country’s flag of which the castle sounds proudly on the skyline.

    We, as you probably know, just had the Festival and Tattoo here in Edinburgh, and there were numerous flags fluttering in the breeze… care to guess how many of those were Saltires?

    As for Stirling.. time to get a new council methinks, one that listens to the peoples views, and not the paymasters away down in Westminster…

  4. Anonymous

    antmcg

    Thank you for your comments, they are very much appreciated. I think there are laws that govern when the Saltire can be flown and it may be that Edinburgh Comes under the Royal network so is governed by that. The SNP are the single largest group on Stirling Council and it ruled by a Labour/Conservative Coalition, says it all really that their hatred of everything SNP means they would rather work together than actually include the largest party. We used to have the same issue in Dundee where three parties and independents kept the SNP out for years and that was shocking enough. I am not someone who goes over the top with flags either way but the article in the Herald and the actions of Stirling Council smacked of talking down our country. Those days where we blindly accpeted our place in the world and accepted that attitute towards Scots and Scotland from Brit Nats are long gone. Scotland is changing and they either get on board or will find that their power base becomes more and more eroded.

    Bruce

  5. Anonymous

    STIRLING TORY-LABOUR MOVE TO REMOVE SALTIRE WITHDRAWN

    Stirling Council’s ruling Tory-Labour group has withdrawn its motion to remove the Saltire from Stirling Council’s headquarters and replace it with a Union Flag.

    Commenting after news that the motion had been withdrawn, SNP Councillor Steven Paterson said: “I welcome the fact this ill-conceived motion has finally been withdrawn.

    “People will decide on the merits of otherwise of independence based on the facts and the strength of the arguments, not based on foolish motions like this one. I am pleased that Stirling Council will now concentrate on the delivery of local services, undermined as they are by this failing Tory-Labour Administration and their decision to reduce council tax at the cost of staff conditions and council services.

  6. Anonymous

    The story is that John Smith House and Better Together were apoplectic about what the Labour councillor was trying to do and demanded the motion was withdrawn immediately. Thanks though to those two councillors for entering the motion in the first place. You have done more to help Scots decide to vote Yes in 2014 than you could ever imagine. You have also ruined any future political career you ‘might’ have had and made your unholy alliance of Tory and Labour even more despised by the people of Stirling than it already is. Danny Gibson should resign his seat. From what I gather he is hated by his community councils, despised by his council colleagues and ridiculed by the electorate. Never before have I seen such a collective of disrespect for one councillor.

    • grumpyscottishman

      It would appear that a lot of things are going on in Stirling but people still vote Labour. Hopefully this incident will get people to sit up and take note, see past the red glasses. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Sam Mitchell

    I am 100% in agreement with you… especially your opening paragraph…. and if mark smith wants to see how others view his union flag I suggest he takes a trip to Australia… there he will find a very large group who see the ‘union’ flag as distinctly an English flag and this group most certainly do not hold back on their views on this…..if some pom has the bottle to display it…

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