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The Union Flag

On January 1st 2001 it was the 200th Anniversary of the UK.'s most visible symbol, the Union Flag. Unveiled to coincide with the Union of the British and Irish Parliaments, it combines the flags of St Andrew, St George and St Patrick. Unique in its inclusive design, the Union Flag has symbolised our British heritage and traditions throughout the world. As a national emblem it has proudly flown on every continent. People of every race, creed and colour have been privileged to become citizens of our nation and to claim the Union Flag as their own. They have done so because of the democratic principles enshrined within it and because it champions freedom. Countless men and women have been proud to serve under the flag in armed forces, which have played a major part in safeguarding our world during two World Wars, and countless other wars and conflicts. The Union Flag has been prominent at the formation of major international organisations such as the United Nations, NATO and the Commonwealth. Within the Commonwealth there are several national flags which incorporate the Union Flag into their design to maintain the link within their heritage whilst moving forward into a new mature national independence.

The Union Flag is a truly outstanding, internationally recognised symbol of our national heritage. It is a priceless logo in the promotion of the U.K. Yet we are now being asked to believe that in our multicultural, post imperial, Euro-centred nation that we should no longer take pride in our national flag. I am saddened to read that the Union Flag should be seen as a symbol of extremism. Travelling abroad it is refreshing to see public and commercial buildings as well as private homes "flying" their national flag. In every nation in the world citizens take pride in their national flag. At all sorts of gatherings, both national and international, flags are flown to greet and to identify the participants whether these are individual athletes or Heads of State.
At sporting events, trade gatherings, political summits and on official visits as well as important historical dates people throughout the world take a pleasure and pride in displaying their national banners. In the U.S.A the citizens pledge their allegiance to the flag and although this is a very large and diverse nation, wherever you travel you will find the stars and stripes proudly flying often alongside the national flags from the immigrant Americans' mother countries.

In many parts of the world it is an offence to show disrespect to the national flag and yet in the U.K., the home of democracy, we are being encouraged to believe that the Union Flag is outdated or that it is divisive because it has been hijacked by extremists and therefore should be replaced. In Northern Ireland with official government backing, things have gone so far that officials are banned from flying our national flag from many public buildings. In the U.K as a whole, the Post Office decided not to issue a special commemorative stamp to mark the anniversary citing both a lack of interest and some other spurious reasons. Surely extremism is something that exists in the hearts and minds of people. Perhaps the extremism that is seen in a flag is more real in our education system which separates children at a very early age and which keeps them apart emphasising their differences, throughout their formative years rather than developing a national spirit and self-confidence.
During the visit of the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern to the Scottish Parliament, veteran Nationalist Winnie Ewing was so enraged by the sight of the Union Flag, displayed alongside the Saltire and the Irish Tricolour, that she described the flag of the United Kingdom as "an insult" to Mr. Ahern and both the Scottish and Irish peoples.
Such fanatical outbursts and hatred of the Union Flag echo the similar bigoted rantings from Republican Nationalists in Ireland. Her outrageous comments are without doubt offensive to the vast majority of Scots but are never the less the norm from the mouthpieces of the S.N.P.

Remember November 1999 when the then leader of that party, Alex Salmond, got himself all agitated by the sight of the Union Flag on the flag pole of Inverness Castle and refused to pose for a photograph in front of the castle.
Again on the very next day, the finance spokesman, Andrew Wilson, said "the Union Flag is an offensive symbol which doesnít refer to anything other than colonialism and the worst aspects of what is happening in Northern Ireland."
He was backed by the party treasurer, Ian Blackford, who stated that "Britain has little relevance for the people of this country." Many thousands of Scots fought and died under the Union Flag in two World Wars to secure the freedoms that allow Ewing, Salmon and Wilson to spew out their bile and extreme divisiveness.
Knowledge and understanding of the Nationalists attitude towards the symbols of our country, the United Kingdom, can only strengthen the resolve of the Scottish Unionist Party to stand fast for Scotland and the Union.
Enough is enough surely it is time for all true Unionists to begin the fight back. Let us campaign to have the Post Office reconsider its decision and let us all be ever willing to fly the flag.
As a proud and patriotic Scot I can think of no greater sight than to see the Union Flag unfurl in a light breeze. Let us stand up and be counted let us fly the Union Flag in support of our unionist principles.