Raised and Confused
There seems to have been a lot of confusion and bad blood stirred up by the strange sight of Alex Salmond attempting to raise the Scottish saltire behind David Cameron’s beetroot little head in the posh seats of Centre Court after Andy Murray’s victory in the men’s final at Wimbledon (I’ll never tire of saying that).
When I mentioned that I thought it was “cheeky” I was immediately lambasted by nationalists (presumably) who asserted that there is nothing mischievous about a national leader holding the national flag in celebration of one of the nation’s sons’ successes. I understand their point but I feel the need to explore this a little further.
Was Salmond’s act akin to, say, the South African premier waving a national flag after seeing a fellow countrywoman winning an Olympic gold medal? Or Angela Merkel holding a little German flag on a stick after her country’s football team have won a European championship? Well, no. Let’s put aside the question of whether such things would ever happen. Let’s put aside concepts of the dignity of office and protocol; I’m no great respecter of either. The subtle distinction here is that Salmond, the leader of a regional parliament that operates within a larger sovereign entity, is campaigning to secede from the very political union represented and supported by the pillock in front of him. These two leaders, one national and one regional, are diametrically opposed on the future constitutional relationship between that region and the larger polity. I am willing to forego any consideration of the efficacy, advisability or integrity of Salmond’s action. I’ll let others argue over whether it was an embarrassing display of political immaturity or the advertising coup of the summer. I’ll ignore contentions that it smacked of vulgar opportunism or was a bold expression of national pride. But please, please – whichever angle you take on the independence issue – don’t tell me that rolling up a sizeable Scottish flag and secreting it in your bag to hoist behind the British Tory prime minister’s head after a Scot triumphs in that bastion of conservative Englishness, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club – isn’t “cheeky”.
The much bigger question is: would he have done it if Murray had lost?