Growing up in the 1980s & 90s I don’t remember flags in general being an obsession for people, and certainly not outside of celebrating or commemorating certain occasions – well, apart from football! Other than that, people just got on with their lives - flag or no flag - no real emphasis was placed on them until recently.
It’s not a coincidence that we have a nationalist party in power here in Scotland while our national symbols are being appropriated by a movement hell-bent on breaking our country apart. This is what nationalism does.
When I was growing up there certainly wasn’t any outrage at supermarket branding, or what products companies sold to foreign markets with certain flags on them, and no one knew or cared much about the political views of the people who run these companies. It didn’t matter to me or my friends and family. This was all post-2014 referendum outrage. A very loud faux outrage at that but, remember this, it’s a nationalist minority making all the noise.
Today, Scotland appears to be a nation where the majority are scared to speak up, scared to disagree with this entrenched vocal minority who wave flags, march our streets and attach themselves to our national symbols for their own selfish political agenda.
It’s for this reason that some Scots are reluctant to fly the Saltire. Especially since the referendum in 2014 which saw our flag vandalised with a political Yes slogan.
I remember helping to run a stall for Better Together in 2014, during the independence referendum, in George Square, Glasgow. We had both the Saltire and Union Flag on display and it was received well with the general public until someone took it upon themselves to charge over screaming at us, letting us know that, in no uncertain terms, that we were “traitors to Scotland” and that the “Saltire doesn’t belong to traitors like you”. At the time I totally laughed it off, after all I was and still am used to nationalist abuse being thrown at me. If you publicly disagree with nationalists in Scotland, then it’s become sadly inevitable that abuse will follow.
Thinking back to that bitterly divided period in 2014, I can see how important it is for the majority of Scotland to no longer allow our national symbols and our flag(s) to be used for nationalist gain.
If we allow our Saltire to be appropriated without a fight then we are sowing the seeds of nationalism for them, we are aiding their agenda of us and them. If we allow the nationalists to have our Saltire, then it’s game over for our place in the UK.
We have seen recently how the SNP’s nationalist movement has stepped up its appropriation of our flag. If you happened to fill in the new survey currently being conducted by the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) then it’s abundantly clear how they view Scotland’s Saltire, as their own. They are asking if “People recognise that the Saltire is aligned with the Independence movement.”
This is what we are up against in Scotland, a nationalist juggernaut that will stop at nothing when trying to achieve its aims. This is one of the reasons why Scotland in Union is running the #EveryonesFlag campaign. We want to remind people that our flags and our symbols belong to everyone in Scotland, regardless of what party we vote for, or what our political views are.
So please help us spread the word about the #EveryonesFlag campaign in the run up to Friday (St Andrew’s Day), and, feel free to add our #EveryonesFlag Facebook Frame to your profile picture (or add a Twibbon to your Twitter profile).
Andrew Skinner, campaigns manager for Scotland in Union.
If you don't already, you can contribute towards our campaign by donating here.