This team is dead. It’s not continuing! It passed on! The club is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If it hadn’t undersoil heating it’d be pushing up the daisies! It’s administrative processes are now liquidated! It’s off the twig and kicked the bucket, it shuffled off its immoral coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin choir! THIS IS AN EX-Football club!
“Fly the flag” they say! Straightforward enough in most countries, but not Britain, where the vast and confusing choice of what flag to fly is only outnumbered by the interpretation of what the flag says, as highlighted by an interesting piece by BBC Scotland’s Ken Macdonald – covering a study by the boffins at Strathclyde University on National Pride and the relation of that to Flags.
Indeed, with the jubilee themed orgy of red, white and blue that has recently assaulted our sensibilities, you would think that we had all going Cool Britannia (the Sequel) crazy as we marked the 60 year reign of a monarch who can trace her family line all the way back to both Scotland’s Robert the Bruce and Ireland’s Brian Boru, but neither Henrys IV to VIII nor Richard I, II or III! But in reality, the gushing of enthusiasm and tea-parties petered out north of Berwick, with Scottish street parties are as difficult to find as genuine feeling of tartan goodwill to our southern neighbour’s first XI as they kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against les autre demi of the Auld Alliance.
(I’ve decided to break with tradition and will be supporting England (but not Clive Tylsey!). After all, they are our neighbours, and due some support. After all, won’t Liverpool fans be cheering on Fergie’s Man United in next season’s Champions League? But that’s another matter).
Back to the flags, and what the study proposed and what can be extrapolated from the Jubilee is that there is still a sense that the Union Flag is England’s. The study posits that Englishmen (and women) have merged their sense of identity into both the Union Flag and the Cross of St George. Work is being done to try to separate the two concepts, however, and the English FA surely must be lauded for launching the new England kit in a pure red and white colour scheme. Furthermore, the relatively small pocket of England fans that have ventured to the Ukraine will be probably waving the Cross of St George predominately and the Union Flag occasionally, as reverse of how things were in the glory days of 1966 when a sea of Union Flags greeted… sorry, remind me, what happened then?
Meanwhile, Scotland will continue to fly the Saltire (even at Hampden during the Olympics) and occasionally the Royal Standard of Scotland, while the Scottish version of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom will fly over Holyrood. Northern Ireland will fly a yet more contentious mix of flags – ranging from the Plough and the Stars to the Red Hand of Ulster, from the Erin go Bragh Harp to the Ulster Scots’ Saltire, plus of course the Irish Tricolour and the Union Flag, while hardly any will promote the diagonal Cross of St Patrick that did make it into the 1801 resin. As for Wales, well sorry guys, you’re Dragon didn’t make it onto the design.
But all of this is set against the current discussions of possible Scottish Independence in 2016, and the questions of identity that the preceding referendum is focussing on. Can we be Scottish and British? Can we be Scottish Nationalist and Monarchist? Can we be Unionist yet Republican. Interestingly, the SNP have gone for the middle ground on this one – ironically keen to emphasise “Britishness” as part of the pro-royal, “Social Union” while their opponents are keen to polarise identity and values. I doubt anyone in the 1970s would have seen the day when the SNP were pushing Britishness and Labour were suggesting that a more extreme form of separation was on the agenda. Scare tactics, perhaps?
But flag folly goes to Lord Forsyth who insisted that the potential establishment of and independent Scottish Government (even he will have to stop calling it Executive then!) will lead to the blue being pulled out of the Union Flag. Comments which ignored the fact the Union Flag came into being in 1606 after the ascension of James VI of Scotland to the English crown, a good 101 years before the formation of the now “at risk” Westminster Government of the UK.
In the meantime, let’s all get behind our team and start supporting them and flying the flag. I’m just not saying what team and what flag!
Rebuilt Royal Scot Class 46115 “Scots Guardsman” approaches North Queensferry with the Great Britain V Railtour ex Waverley headed for Aberdeen, on day two of the weeklong tour. Photo shot from the Gun Battery at Carlingnose Point on North Queensferry.
So “mad Alex“, the loony-leader who wishes to depose Robert Mugabe and be the Next King of Scotland is all in a lather as his two-bit, tin-pot excuse for a so-called nation of sponging subsidy-junkies and haggis-munchers finds itself on the wrong end of two barrels of home (counties?) truth from those boys down at The Economist. The latest cover of the UK edition has caused an almichty-me fuss this side of Hadrian’s wall by labelling the place that gave the world Adam Smith: Skintland.
Under the foreboding threat “It’ll cost you – The price of Scottish independence” the nation is mapped out under place names including “Edinborrow – twinned with Athens”, “Obankrupt”, “Ben Novice”, “Rum Deal”, “Islay-offs” and my favourite “Shutland – leased to Norway”.
All a good jolly jape, and considering that the article it trails is a modestly more balanced and considered article, what’s the big deal?
Well, quite a lot says Salmond, who slams it as “sneering condescensions”. Which betray how London’s ruling and chattering classes “really regard Scotland.” Other’s too lay in to the tone of the cover, obvious candidates from the SNP along with Leslie Riddoch, Tim Montgomerie and a tweetful of others. Non-SNP politicians are decidedly less offended by the smear, agreeing that it’s all a jolly wheeze to bait the SNP with.
But here’s the rub: It’s wrong. There’s an inescapable, habitual, and chronic behaviour at play here that says “London knows best”, and everyone else is to be talked down to and patronised. There are many cases in history, and in most of them, the sneering patronisation which was “just a bit of fun” is now racism, sexism or bigotry. Knocking the Scots is the latest in a long line of discriminations that we need to call for what they are. Some racist jokes are funny – but they are still wrong.
In essence, this attitude suggests that Scotland just can’t achieve because it’s Scotland. It’s a blinkered value system, that detracts attention from raw realism and eschews considered debate for witty put-downs that shift the publications from the shelves and the attention from the truth. The Economist is an amateur in this game - try reading the Daily Mail to see how the professionals do it! It’s “Allo Allo” humour with a sinister undercurrent and betrays a disdain for Scotland’s credibility as a nation state that detracts from a more considered article in the pages within.
When the Bard himself wrote these prophetic lines, I suspect he was thinking of these days:
O wad some Power the giftie tie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us, An’ ev’n devotion!