At a time when Labour’s ruinous devolution policy has placed the future of the UK in greater question than at any time since 1746, the Union needed just such a shot in the arm. We didn’t care who was Scottish, who was Welsh, who English or from Northern Ireland – they were all ours under our common flag and our national anthem.
So why are these athletes being welcomed to Cardiff draped, not in the Union Flag under which they competed, but in Welsh flags instead? No celebration of Britishness there!! On the TV coverage I saw one solitary person in the crowd waving a Union Flag. All the rest had either brought – or been issued with – Welsh flags instead. And the asinine BBC commentator person even went so far as to refer to one athlete as ‘winning Wales’s first gold medal since (whenever)’. How long before the arch-showman Salmond stages a similar Nationalist/Separatist rally in Edinburgh? And will London 2012 still have a TeamGB supported by Union Flag waving supporters as in Beijing? After all it was only thanks to the Chinese authorities’ concerns about pro-Tibet demonstrations that flags of ‘non-competing nations’ were banned and we were spared a rash of saltires etc. there.
Not surprisingly Brown has been caught napping here. We are told there is to be a celebration for the British Team in London in NOVEMBER! By which time the devolved administrations will have had loads of time to undo the good work for the Union that might have been achieved by staging their own celebrations such as this, with their own separatist message.
Why am I banging on about this? After all, it’s just symbolism, isn’t it, with no real substance? Simply because I am worried about the future of the country I grew up in. Basically, I want it to have a future. And because I realise, as do the Alex Salmonds of this world, that symbolism is important. It creates the atmosphere in which what was unthinkable thirty or forty years ago becomes thinkable even to the point of seeming to some people right and inevitable.
I remember Wales and Scotland in the 1960s when dragon flags and saltires were relatively rare. Now they’re just about ubiquitous and the rarity is the Union Flag.