Scotland’s National Flag Targeted
The Saltire, The Cross of St Andrews, Scotland’s national flag has become the subject of the conservatives latest attack, unionists are insisting that only the flag of the United Kingdom should be flown in Scotland and that the Saltire should be banned because it represents those who seek to divide the UK.
In 2019 Boris Johnson added fuel to the fire when he vowed that he would drape everything in Scotland with a union flag
In Scotland we are used to seeing sectarian marches stoking up hatred against Catholic communities and we have become accustomed to unionists who do not see the benefits of an independent Scotland stirring up trouble, but what we are seeing now are Conservative politicians putting pressure on Police Scotland to have the Scottish National flag banned from being displayed at independence marches and rallies.
Unionists are claiming that the Saltire is being used as a political banner to encourage the break up of the union which goes against the wishes of the Scottish people who voted against it in 2014, they are also claiming that using the Scottish national flag as a symbol for Scottish independence constitutes a hate crime as the independence movement is not representative of the whole of Scotland.
Police Scotland state that any flag flown or displayed in a provocative manner, constitutes a common law Breach of the Peace or an offence under Section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.
Back in 2018 it was revealed by Police Scotland that certain flags were to be banned from being displayed in demonstrations, rallies, marches and counter demonstrations, these included the flags of Catalonia, Palestine and Ireland. Police Scotland were quoted as saying that officers could charge perpetrators with a Breach of the Peace or an offence under Section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licencing (Scotland) Act 2010 and, if convicted in court, offenders who fly the flags could face up to five years in prison.
Whilst many of the flags included on Police Scotland’s banned list contain sectarian symbols which are often displayed by loyalist and republican groups during parades, others were just regular country flags that someone had decided should be banned because they represent countries fighting for independence.
Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, who represented Catalan politician Clara Ponsati, was quoted at the time as saying: “I think the idea that flying the flag of any country could be construed as a criminal offence is a step too far. The danger of such guidelines is that they leave too many grey areas. Which means that it could take one person in a crowd of several thousand to be offended by the flying of a Catalan flag to press the button for an arrest. As a defence lawyer I appreciate circumstances which could give rise to a public order offence however my concern is the impact on the freedom of expression and the right to identify with struggles for freedom internationally – surely that should not be made a crime in a democracy?”
The matter raised questions in the Scottish parliament with Sandra White asking the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with Police Scotland regarding the reported list of flags that it could be a criminal offence to fly. Humza Yousaf said that this was an operational matter for Police Scotland, which has confirmed that the list of flags was produced to assist officers in differentiating between legitimate flags and those which include illegal images, such as the symbols of proscribed terrorist organisations. Humza Yousaf went on to say that Police Scotland has clearly confirmed that, in the absence of other associated criminal behaviour, it is not illegal to fly any national flag in its unaltered state.
Independence Activists could be targeted under Police Scotland’s guidance on flags
The matter of “unaltered” flags may have been cleared up but the question we have now is “could flying the Scottish National flag with a YES logo be deemed as provocative“? remember that the hate crime bill could also be used against us as marches and rallies could be construed as an attack on an individual or group, i.e. the unionists, and if it is, who gets to decide which of the thousands of people attending an independence event are guilty of an act of criminality or will the Police just err on the side of caution, follow the 2018 guidelines and arrest everyone carrying an altered flag?
Homeowners in Scotland have also come under attack for flying the Saltire, with a recent complaint in Ayreshire being overturned by the local council.
The council said: “The proposed flagpole is not considered to have an adverse impact on the visual amenity of the locality.” It added: “It is noted from photographs contained within the submission that the flagpole is adorned with the national flag of Scotland (Saltire). “The flying of a national flag does not require the benefit of advertisement consent nor planning permission.”
This year the COP26 climate change summit is being held in Glasgow, but as Scotland is only represented as a part of the UK the prime minister has said that only the union flag is to be displayed, even though the event is being hosted in Scotland. BORIS Johnson has also insisted the union flag should be prominent at the global climate summit in Glasgow and said he does not want the First Minister “anywhere near” it.
The cost of all this union-jackery to the taxpayer currently stands at over £160,000 as government spending on Union flags over the last two years has reached an all time high under Johnson, who has no money to feed the poorest in society but can find a spare couple of hundred grand to buy flags.