Sunday 27 May 2012

Getting cross about the saltire

Saltire no more?
There's a bit of a row brewing over the high-handed attitude of London Olympics organisers, Locog, to the display of flags other than the "officially approved" union jack along the route of the torch relay and at various venues - including Hampden. The multiple national identities within the artificial political contrivance of the British state always portended a plethora of potential presentational pitfalls for the organisers of the London Olympics. It seems that the corporate overlords of the Olympiad are determined to explore all the possibilities offered. (See a far from comprehensive list here.)

I first became aware of what I sincerely hope won't be labelled "flag-gate" by some bone-idle, bone-headed sub-editor, when news broke of the Cornish flag being ripped from the grasp of a torch-bearer in, of all places, Cornwall. This caused a fair bit of agitation. Questions were asked in the House, by Jove! But Locog seems to have adopted a petrol-based approach to fighting the relatively small fire of negative PR which ensued with the result that it is threatening to turn it into a major blaze. It's even possible that the conflagration might engulf yon royal thingy that has so far failed to spark much interest here in Scotland.

The next episode to impinge on my awareness was when I heard tell of the exploits of Alyn Smith, SNP MEP and redoubtable fechter for Scotland's interests in the European arena. It appears that the fire-breathing dragon named Locog had hatched a plot to eradicate all traces of Scotland's flag from Hampden Park - the venue for some Olympic football matches. Even to the extent of banning spectators from carrying their own personal property into the ground. At which the bold "Sir Alyn" girded his loins, lofted his lance and set off to emulate the dragon-slaying adventures of one of mythology's few significant Syrians.

A cheer went up as our champion struck a telling blow, forcing the beast to concede that individuals would, after all, be permitted to take their own saltires into Hampden on condition that they were not doing so in order to make a "political statement". (Presumably Locog also abandoned plans to command the flowing tide in the manner of another famous Cnut.)

But it seems that the corporate fiat of the London Olympics leviathan is not to be totally denied. By summary diktat of Locog, the Scottish flag which customarily flies over Scotland's national football stadium is to be supplanted by some officially approved emblem of obeisance to the gods of corporate sponsorship. What might that be if not a political statement, I wonder?

Given the political climate in Scotland, it is inevitable than some will see the hand of the British political establishment in this attempt to suppress anything that might even tangentially hint at a questioning of the supremacy of the British state. I don't "do" conspiracy theories. But however little substance there may be to such suspicions it cannot be doubted that the "disappearing" of dissent would suit the purposes of British nationalists very nicely. The world is watching. It's better that the world should not be allowed to see how close to disintegration the British state really is. And within the UK it's even more important that nothing be allowed to emphasise the distinctiveness of the nations which are meant to be subsumed within a synthetic "Britishness".

Some unionists have sought to dismiss the protests over banning of the saltire by portraying the whole issue in terms of some kind of romantic "Braveheart" attachment to the trappings of nationhood. In doing so, they expose the hypocrisy of their own enthusiastic waving of the "butcher's apron" at every opportunity. And, worse still, they draw attention to their own sneeringly contemptuous attitude to their country's flag.

Another unionists tack is to say that it's acceptable to object to the disrespectful treatment of the saltire but only within the context of the UK as a whole. According to this "argument" there can be no distinctive Scottish context. Or, presumably, a Welsh, Irish, Cornish or English context. This simply embraces and emulates the very corporate disdain for national/cultural symbols that is the cause of the protest.

Flags are symbols. Flags are not important in themselves. Their importance lies in what the flag is emblematic of. The saltire symbolises the community of Scotland. Not the nation and still less some political party or faction within the nation. The saltire stands for the people of Scotland. All the people of Scotland. Whether motivated by corporate greed or political hubris, disrespect for the saltire necessarily implies a measure of contempt for the people of Scotland. It is only to be expected that such blatant disrespect will provoke an angry response.


  1. On a good day, I can walk a couple of hundred yards. Just tell me where and when and I will walk to any protest against this abomination - anywhere. This is the ultimate insult by Unionists. And don't anyone tell me this is just an unforeseen consequence or I might just use my favourite, truly Scottish, word. PISH!

  2. A flash-mob of saltires outside the ground an hour before the first event there would alert the world press to a possible story, wouldn't it?

    1. A flash mob? Did you guys learn nothing from your March on the BBC yesterday? People could not care less about such futile antics.

    2. There will always be those who prefer to tug the forelock and accept whatever is dished out to them. Quite why such people imagine they might win over others to the non-cause of mindless apathy remains a bit of a mystery.

    3. The Flashmob party outside Cleggs house,yesterday, appears to have ruffled a few feathers. Louse Mench, and others have been twitting about it all day!

    4. I'm a bit of a fan of the flashmob ever since I saw video of the one in Barcelona. Done right, it can be a powerful propaganda weapon.

  3. The SFA signed a lucrative contract for the use of their stadium. They could not care less what flag flies on the stadium for the duration of said contract. Only idiotic nationalists with too much time on their hands could find such ludicrous grounds for complaint.

    1. Did you bother to read the final paragraph above?

  4. Firstly can I just say that this is yet ANOTHER reason for Scotland to re-gain its INDEPENDENCE A.S.A.P. Let's put these self centred, egotistical, numpty upstarts in their place!

    Secondly, the S.F.A. should tell Locoq to get tae f*** with their "No Saltire" instructions. Hampden is SCOTLAND'S national stadium. The Saltire flies there 365 days a year and naebody, not even Locoq, will tell us, Scotland, to remove OUR flag from OUR stadium.

    Thirdly, is anyone gathering up the egg collection for the iconic "hit Coe with an egg" competition? No doubt he WILL be attending at least one of the football games in Hampden.

    Fourthly, Can we all ensure that when the games are played at Hampden there is NO ONE sitting at either goal end. As every one knows there is a rather LARGE Saltire made out of the seat colours at each end. Let's see Locoq try and cover these "fixed" Saltires up. :D

    Lastly, I want nothing whatsoever to do with the ridiculous torch relay. Well at least I didn't. After the news of Locoq and their "ban the Saltire" I am now giving serious thought to the possibility of going out in my village and standing waving a Saltire as the torch and naff parade pass by. Let's see what they do about that! International incident anyone? :D

    1. Tha Nazi Torch relay, you mean? The last vestige of Hitler worship still allowed in public?

    2. I hear what you're saying. But my personal view is that too much time has passed for the Nazi association to be meaningful.

    3. Trouble is Sionnyn only the "few" know about Hitler "inventing" the torch relay. Unfortunately this nugget of information is not discussed too widely in the bars or at work, perhaps it should.

      Like everything else in this "great????" country of ours we are only told what the great "unclean" want to tell us. The truth shall forever be hidden from our eyes!

      As you say the last great vestige of Hitler worship permitted in public without fear of retribution.

      I wonder. What would happen if you were to stand at the side of the road as the torch went past and you shouted "Hitler supporter" or words to that effect? How long would it be before YOU were clapped in irons for shouting the truth?

  5. Christian Wright28 May 2012 at 04:15


    As a matter of principle no third party should be allowed to prohibit the flying of our national flag above our national stadium.

    The best thing would be for the Hampden management and the SFA to make it clear to Locog that the Saltire WILL fly above Hampden during any game, and that that point is non negotiable.

    Should Locog decide that that is unacceptable to them, they will of course be free to take their pageant elsewhere.

    It is far better to lose these games and suffer the wrath of the IOC, than to set a precedent where sports organizations or quangos can dictate what we can and cannot do with our flag in our country.

    Should it be that those responsible for stadium policy buckle, then, on the day, the enterprising and athletic among aggrieved Scots, might contrive to raise the Saltire upon a flagpole on the Hampden roof, anyway.

    This action begins to pay a unique dividend when some official numpty instructs a subordinate numpty to climb on the roof and take down the flag.

    Were the take-downer in uniform, it would provide us the kind of symbolism and publicity, that comprises a PR man's wet dream.

    Should the Saltire be so raised, the best response by the relevant authority would be to leave it there, and do nothing.

    However, I have enough faith in officialdom and the ubiquity of sod's law, to believe someone with a room temperature IQ and the political acumen of a cold mince pie, will be there on the day to order its removal.

    The TV pictures would ideally be of a less than nimble member of Strathclyde Police, struggling to remove our nation's flag, on the orders of some jobsworth who is in turn is instructed to act by the IOC. What a treasure to behold.

    The power of such a display lies in its viscerally understood symbolic significance, and how that is identifiable as a metaphor for our national struggle.

    Alas, it is likely to be understood internationally, more readily than in some parts of the UK.

    Given the world TV audience, it would be as a clarion call that would put Scotland's struggle to be master of its own house, front and center on the world stage.

    I hope this opportunity, should it arise, will be recognized and well used.

  6. No wonder Coe could not risk a team GB game at Hampden... it would have meant most of the stadium cheering for the other team.

    The Englsih anthem is the team GB anthem, so they honestly expect Scots to cheer it loudly after the connotations it has both in sports and also politically?

    I cannot imagine too many Celtic fans turning up and holding up the Union jack....

    1. But strangely they COULD wave the Tricolour, as the Irish are competing as a nation, and under IoC rules any COMPETING national flag is OK.

      As for the SFA, I rather suspect that they have already agreed to this demand, otherwise the games would not be being played in Hampden park. Apparently there is a "rule book" on the Olympics that runs into volumes!