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Flag fuss means Scotland is falling short

The Star-Spangled Banner was famously planted on Japanese territory during the Second World War at Iwo Jima after a bloody battle. It even made it on to the moon, although not everyone is convinced.

No to be outdone, the Soviets marked the end of the Battle of Berlin by hoisting the hammer and sickle over the Reichstag.

More recently, ISIS declared their control over cities in Syria and Iraq like Raqqa and Mosul with their fearsome black standard before coalition forces took it down.

The Union Jack making it on a tin of shortbread seems pretty mild in comparison. Yet going by the latest Twitter storm, it seems Walkers Shortbread is going on the banned list with Tunnock's, Highland Spring, Harris Tweed and Barrhead.

Flags are important symbols and, with the rise in nationalism and sharp identity politics, their use is an area of heightened sensitivity.

But this latest social media spat, which forced the company to make a statement and had senior politicians weighing in on the debate, shows Scotland in a bad light.

Much like spaghetti manufacturers who badge their products in the Italian flag, I expect Walkers used the Union flag for one simple reason – to help sell shortbread in a global market.

Whether it's wise or effective is a matter for them. It's their business after all.

The real concern is if the rise in this outraged patriotism becomes the last refuge of the policymaker, to misquote Samuel Johnson.

After all, when pressed on the detail of what kind of Brexit deal she wants, we have already had Theresa May tell us she wants a ‘red, white and blue’ Brexit.

And the Scottish Government is currently pushing through a major change in how our railways and trains are police for no other apparent reason than to strip the service of the word Britain.

We are allowed to express our patriotism and love of our country in our own way. But we cannot let the flag – whether the Union Jack, the Saltire or the 12 stars of Europe, bind our eyes and blind us to the real failures in our country.


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