In my 55 years of life, I had never until yesterday seen a flag which was a saltire on one side and a union jack on the other. Yet last night thousands of them were distributed free at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. I have been told they are being given out at the swimming today, and possibly at other venues too.
Such flags do not normally exist. They had to be specially commissioned, and somebody had to pay for them. Who paid for them? Is it public money?
There is no doubt why these unique flags were commissioned, and why they are being given out free at considerable expense. It is to provide TV images of Scotland combined in the union, and to make sure that Scottish medals are greeted with media images of union jacks being waved with the saltire.
In the context of the referendum, only a hardened liar could claim that these unique flags were commissioned without a view to the campaign. This is enormous hypocrisy by the unionists, who have been bombarding the media for weeks with warnings to Yes supporters not to “politicise” the Commonwealth Games.
The BBC informs us that “political flags” are not allowed inside games venues. So saltires with a Yes will be confiscated. The BBC report states:
Well hold on, some flags will not be allowed to fly. Political flags.
Both sides of the independence debate have agreed not to use Glasgow 2014 for political gain anyway.
But even if you wanted to, well, it’s against the rules.
Glasgow 2014 Venue Regulation 6.18 states that no flags are allowed to enter a venue – or the vicinity of any Games venue – if they are normally associated with causes, affiliations or organisations.
Nobody can possibly argue that, at this time, a Union Jack combined with a Saltire is not an image strongly associated with a cause or association. So the rules are being quite deliberately broken, and somebody is funding that breach and doing it on a massive scale. It is vital that we know: who is paying for these flags?
Actually I am not sure why union jacks are allowed in at all. The rules are very clear. If you try to take in a Palestinian flag or a Dutch flag it will be confiscated. Again, to quote the BBC:
You are not allowed, however, to bring the flag of a country not competing in the Games
The United Kingdom is not competing in the Games. So there is a very respectable argument that union jacks should not be allowed in at all.
What is absolutely certain is that the two-faced union jack and saltire flags are very strongly associated with a political cause or affiliation. If they are allowed in, then Yes saltires should be allowed in too.