Smoke and mirrors

Scottish colours are political, British colours in the exact same context are not political, it’s official – or more accurately, officious. The private company organising the opening ceremony had planned that when the Red Arrows did their flyover, they should trail blue and white smoke – the colours of the Scottish saltire – seeing as how the Commonwealth Games are being held in Scotland. Despite the best efforts of a very shouty Gordon Matheson to assert otherwise, Glasgow is most definitely a Scottish city. I’m sure I’d have noticed if it wasn’t, and my geography is pretty good – I can get zero points on Pointless geography questions even when the answer isn’t Central African Republic.

Anyway, the request for Caledonian contrails went to the MoD, and got a Naw from the Tory Defence secretary Michael Fallon. Mikey was rehearsing for all the Naws Scotland is going to get from Westminster if we’re daft enough to vote Naw in September. Mikey is now being bigged up by the Daily Mail as the man who faced down the evil Alicsammin and his dastardly political plot to get the Red Arrows to display the colours of the Scottish flag.

As Wings Over Scotland points out today, the RAF has previously blown smoke in shades other than red white and blue. The Red Arrows did a red and white display for the Maltese, and even made a lovely St George’s Cross for the English fitba team – and in 1999 they trailed blue and white smoke over Edinburgh to celebrate the opening of the Scottish Parliament.

But Michael insisted that Saltire smoke wasn’t going to happen, and demanded that the smoke trails were red white and blue. So we got the RAF flying over Celtic Park trailing red white and blue smoke while someone in the stadium sang God Save the Queen and that isn’t remotely political at all, and isn’t going to piss off any Celtic fans who’re still uncertain how they’re going to vote. Aye, that Celtic Park. This may or may not be connected to the fact that Michael Fallon is himself a ProudScot™, born in Perth in 1952 into an upper middle class family of Tory voters. Like many ProudScots™ of that ilk he went south in order to get a political career because no one in the land of his birth wants to vote for him.

So instead of a streitched oot Saltire, we got long lines of red white and blue in the sky instead, which by a pleasing coincidence recreated the design of the Luxembourg flag. This was Westminster’s way of trying to sook up to Jean Claude Juncker the EC Prez after Cameron pissed him off by trying to block his election. Because the Luxembourg flag consists of horizontal stripes in red white and blue. Knowing that is the kind of thing you get zero points in Pointless for, as is knowing that Luxembourgy things are actually called Luxembourgeois. Michael Fallon is pretty pointless too, and receives zero votes in Scotland, and he was probably hoping we’d think the RAF fly past was Lothianbourgeois.

The Red Arrows could in theory create a Union flag, but only at the risk of multiple mid-air collisions and this is generally held not to be such a good idea. They just do a red white and blue tricolour, so not the Irish one then, and everyone pretends not to notice it looks more like the French flag than the British one. Vive la Auld Alliance. Mind you, the smoke trails looked purple from my windae, and gradually merged into a charming shade of lavender, so maybe they were celebrating Gay Pride a week late.

Despite the fact that the Scottish Government’s presence in the affair was about the same as the Tory party’s presence in the East End of Glasgow, this hasn’t stopped the UK media presenting this non-issue as a major blow for Alicsammin. They needed something to beat the independence campaign over the head with, since the crowd at Celtic Park had greeted the English team with cheers, thus failing to demonstrate the anti-English hatred which is supposedly consuming Scotland just now. So in the absence of anything as substantial as a tweet slagging off JK Rowling sent from a non-Scottish nutcase in Blackpool to use as a demonstration of Scottish unreasonableness, we get this non-story instead.

The No campaign is up to its usual tricks again – blaming its opponents for its own crimes. Just as the constant barrage of condescension, insults, abuse, and patronising dismissal directed at Scotland in the UK media isn’t remotely anti-Scottish racism at all, but Tweets from random nutjobs are evidence of systemic anti-English hatred. Likewise the Yes campaign isn’t supposed to politicise the Commonwealth Games, but Britishness is not political, so we can be deluged with Unionist symbols and that’s got nothing to do with the referendum campaign. The people handing out flags with Union flags on one side and Saltires on the other outside the venue weren’t making a political point at all, even if those flags have only previously been seen at Unionfests. Apparently the flags are being handed out by the Help for Heroes charity, although since they’re being handed out for free it’s not a fund raising campaign – which would be understandable. Instead this is costing the charity money, and it’s highly debatable just how exactly handing out Union Saltires to crowds at the Commonwealth Games does in fact benefit ex-servicepeople. I do not know for certain whether it was Help for Heroes, but as a former worker in the voluntary sector this activity seems to me to cross the legal line preventing charitable groups from participating in political activities. Oh but I forgot, promoting Britishness during the Scottish referendum campaign isn’t political at all. It’s only promoting Scottishness in Scotland that’s political.

But all of this misses the real point. The real point is that a major Scottish event which shows the city of Glasgow and the country of Scotland off to the world can be hijacked by a Tory in London that no one here has ever heard of – except for his maw and da – who wants to use it to make a political point in order to tell us that his politics aren’t political at all. And Unionist politicisation gets transformed into an attack on Alicsammin who is accused of politicising the event. That’s Unionist smoke and mirrors and Scotland is put back into its wee red white and blue box.

We’ll still get grandstanding patronising politicians in an independent Scotland. We’ll still witness political hypocrisy and crass stupidity. The difference will be that they’ll be politicians that Scotland has elected, and politicians that we can then remove from office – and unlike Michael Fallon’s other Scots Tory pals like Michael Forsyth, they won’t have a House of Lords to be bumped up to. Until then, we’ll continue to be treated like surly teenagers by a Westminster Parliament and and UK media, and not allowed even to decide on the entertainment for our own party. This must be more of that Home Rule that we’re promised, the kind that doesn’t allow us to home rule our own TV viewing.

Vote Yes, so Scotland can be a grown up country.



40 comments on “Smoke and mirrors

  1. Steve Mitchell says:
  2. Steve Mitchell says:

  3. Steve Mitchell says:

    Posting the last 3 images from Twitter just in case anyone cared to ask for more evidence !

  4. Steve Mitchell says:

    Last but not least……the St George’s flag……

  5. macart763 says:

    Yeah, the ‘let’s all agree to not mention the referendum’ truce lasted well then.

    Westminster just can’t help themselves. They simply cannot help this whole one rule for me and another for you supremely arrogant attitude. Better yet, they appear to believe that no one notices their ever so clever manipulation of events like this.

    Well, we did notice and I’m sure so have most other folks with half an ounce of reason.

    • Illy says:

      So, from now on everyone brings their Yes Saltires, since the games are now political.

      Maybe other commonwealth flags as well, with the date they went independent splatted on them.

      • macart763 says:

        Such a tempting idea. Reacting though always makes you wonder if you’re being provoked into playing their game. After all they have the meeja to cry foul with and pull a Klinsman. As in – ‘Who me ref? They started it.’ They might ignore the agreement, but should we?

        It might be smarter to keep our end of the bargain. Y’know, take a Saltire to the games and let it be seen, but keep the YES flags and political comment for outside of the games?

        So tempting though in the circumstances.

  6. Illy says:

    I really wonder why “Help for Heroes”, who are supposedly a charity aimed at helping verterans, aren’t campaigning against further wars of agression by the UK government, or for better social security, or…

    I said that to a couple of doorsteppers from the Erskine trust as well: if they actually cared, then they’d get the government to do what it *should* be doing, rather than sticking little plasters on missing limbs.

    I guess they don’t want to put themselves out of a job…

    • wee e says:

      Registered charities aren’t allowed to participate in campaigns – so no anti-war campaigning.

      Better social security for veterans — charities are allowed to lobby for things like that.

      What the exact criteria is that forbids one and allows the other, I’m not sure. Maybe its allowed under “campaigning for rights” or “advocating”.

      I see no good reason why Help for Heroes isn’t pulling out all the stops to get veterans’ basic needs met under statutory rights instead of by charity.

    • wee e says:

      Missed out the all-important word! Charities can’t take part in POLITICAL campaigning.

  7. scotsgeoff says:

    Help For Heroes – a charity having to do what the UK Government should be doing for our soldiers; looking after them. Instead they get discarded.

    Might be a good idea not to get involved in so many wars either eh?

    With Independence Help For Heroes can concentrate on helping those (well in Scotland anyway) that are already suffering and not the conveyor belt of casualties that the Westminster Gov’t will continue to provide for them.

    On the Britishisation of the Games? Didn’t expect anything else from them.

    • macart763 says:

      I’m looking to see a new forces covenant with teeth from an independent Scottish government. If our service personnel get injured in our name, I’m wanting them looked after. No argument, no sliding responsibility, they get any care they require.

  8. Maybe we can look forward to Jet Jockeys for Indy now. I feel sorry for the Arrows getting used in this way. Still, the MoD has always exploited its best.

    I suppose the could restore their battered honour by flying over Edinburgh, trailing big blue and white trails on Independence Day!

    Oh and one other thing; Matheson is a charmless, arrogant, loathsome wee shite.

    That is all.

  9. SCED300 says:

    Hearing Tessa Jowell backing up Fallon shows the continuing morphing of what were once three parties int one big Tory Party.
    The Conservatives must be laughing their socks off. Only one MP in Scotland but not a word of dissent, from Labour, on any story they put out that downplays Scotland.
    However Labour will expect us to support them in the 2015 general election. Do you think it is just possible they haven’t thought this through.

    • SCED300 says:

      I wonder if Labour No voters have ever thought about this; if they vote Yes they won’t need to vote tactically again.

      • faolie says:

        I’m sure that lots of Labour voters are starting to think it. Indeed 28% have already made up their minds.

        In the Labour Party itself, well, I’m sure that someone’s mentioned it, only to be told that a) the vote wiil be naw and b) the jocks’ votes are in the bag as usual – no need to worry.

      • PP says:

        I think they are. I come from a long line of red clydesiders who, frankly, would vote for a wheely bin if it had a red rosette. BUT, the lightbulb / penny has dropped moment has happened. Almost all have decided that Yes is the only way. I nearly needed resuscitated when i head this.

        I think for the first time ever people are thinking rather than following and that is a great thing

    • I don’t wholly agree with you on this one. A lot of young folk join the forces because it’s one of the few career options open to them beyond the tedium of the minimum wage, zero hours service sector. Unemployment is kept artificially high in order to keep things that way, I believe. It used to be that youngsters joined most of the time to learn a trade but these days it seems most end up in the infantry. Now, if a youngster wants a career in soldiering, so be it. I’d just like to live in a land where youngsters don’t have to sign their lives to the British state just to earn a living.

      • That was for Heltorum btw!

        • Hektorsmum. Bloody phone!

          • hektorsmum says:

            Okay Max you can call me Helena, I seldom use Hektorsmum nowadays because I get attention else where of a sort I would prefer not to, on my Skype account for instance.I certainly agree with you that many are exactly what my Dad was and what my Uncle was, both in the services to avoid poverty, but some, do join up to fight. As long as there is an understanding of what they are doing, becoming mercenaries that is fine. This rubbish about heroes, a word trashed today, associated with one or other of those highly paid millionaires Footballers.
            I have said in the past that those who send them to war should in essence pay for them, they are not fighting on the beaches round our coast therefore they are not fighting for Scotland or Britain for that matter.
            My Father in Law was quite bitter about the differences between the US forces returning offer of an Education and good health care, though this seems to be vanishing as well in the States if what some of my friends are saying, and the five bob suit and the cardboard suitcase he got.
            Britain needs a revolution, we need a revolution. Lets make 18th September the start of ours.

            • Thanks Helena. I’m with you there. I’m no fan of Imperial adventures but I’m all for adequately defending our own land. I think in that context we’ll be needing more sailors and aviators than soldiers in truth. I agree though that if people are willing to sign up to serve a new Scotland then they should be treated properly by those who may require them to stand in harm’s way.
              In any case, we wouldn’t have to try hard to provide better for our personnel than the MoD does.

      • Illy says:

        Very very true, but still, if they get injured because their employer (the state) put them somewhere where they got injured, then the state should cover them completely.

        But yes, there’s a couple of things that would *decimate* military recruiting:
        Citizens’ Wage/Negative Income Tax/National Stipend set at the *Living* wage (obviously combined with an appropriate rise in the minimum wage)
        Letting people play with guns without them having to join the military or jump through a stupid amount of hoops. (Seriously, guns are not the massive cause of death that everyone claims they are, gun ownership has essentially no correllation to crime rate, *legal* gun ownership has a very slight negative correllation with crime rate, and “gun free zones” have a very high correllation with shooting sprees)

      • rabthecab says:

        Small but far from insignificant point max – there is no such thing these days as a “career option” in the armed forces.

        Surely you’ve noticed that “Army Careers” offices closed down an age ago, and *all* current adverts tell you to “search Army jobs”? There’s a good reason for all this of course – once they’ve used you up in one of their illegal wars, you’re kicked to the kerb before the PTSD kicks in.

        • hektorsmum says:

          One of my friends Husband worked in the Army Careers Office in Dumfries. He saw the writing on the wall and took early retirement. Yes, no career in the services these days, happy if you stay for a couple of years but not long enough to get or accrue pension rights.

  10. faolie says:

    Hijacked indeed Paul. And it’s not just the bloggers and the commentators who noticed: what the f*** being a commonly expressed exclamation from the populace I’d wager.

    And as the Don’t Knows slowly make up their minds, for how many did the shenanigans at the games tilt them Yeswards? Can’t imagine many went the other way.

    Sometimes we need do nothing but stand back and watch…

  11. hektorsmum says:

    There is one law for us and one for them, they are hypocrites as far as I can see. I think this may all end in tears, theirs, it definitely should be.
    As for Help for Heroes, I have to point out I have never given money to the Poppy campaign and I have no time for these people. The heroes were those people who were conscripted, the ordinary Joe Soap who had no wish to fight anyone and who found themselves in extraordinary situations. My Dad was a career soldier, he joined up as a fourteen year old boy soldier and fought right through the War and continued afterwards, you could say he was even different from those today. They want to be there, they do not even want to join the Special Forces they can get enough action without it. They want to fight and act as mercenaries so be it, just make sure before you do so you can afford to do it.

  12. bringiton says:

    When the pretendy Labour party were running the show it was OK to display the trinkets of nationhood but now that we have the possibility of a real country they are doing all they can to deny it’s existence.
    If we vote no,they will eradicate Scottish identity.

  13. Deedee says:

    Don’t think anyone told Danny Wallace about not politicising the games, Go on Danny!

  14. wee e says:

    There’s a huge dog not barking in this Red Arrows thing – the most screamingly obvious flag image imaginable –recreating the very origin of Scotland’s saltire.

    What’s the apocryphal origin of the saltire as, specifically a white cross on a blue background? The “good omen” of two long white clouds crossed in a blue sky.

    It would have been the simplest thing in the world, given that there was exactly the right weather for it, to recreate the “original” saltire in a climbing crossover.

    It’s just not credible that no-one thought of it and no-one rejected the idea.

    • Illy says:

      I thought the origin was that St Andrew got crucified on an angled cross, rather than a straight one?

      But even if the weather hadn’t been right for it, they could have done a bank of blue smoke trails to build a patch of blue sky to be the backdrop for the crossed white trails. That’s probably easier than the english cross they did.

      But all that was asked for was just white and blue trails, and someone at the MoD decided that they should do the french flag instead.

      • hektorsmum says:

        I understand that Andrew refused to be crucified on the same cross as Christ as he deemed himself not to be worthy, therefore he was killed on the angled cross Still dead though. (no bad for an atheist, me not him.)

      • wee e says:

        Yes, St Andrew repoutedly was killed on an X shaped cross — and the figure of a crucified St Andrew on his cross was used in earlier mediaeval times – on seals and so on. Sometime in the the 13th century it morphed into the white X on the blue field.

        The (probably apocryphal) story of why it is an empty cross in those colours is a story every wean used to be taught at school — that back in the mists of history, long before the Norman conquest, a Scottish (or Pictish) king prayed to St Andrew for success in defending against attack from what’s not northern England; and he saw his answer in the sky on the morning of battle in the shape of two white clouds forming the St Andrew’s X in the blue sky.

        I say “probably” apocryphal, but there’s no doubt that any unusual natural phenomenon the morning of a battle was looked on as either a good or a bad omen, so a smart commander would be quick to encourage the troops with an inspiring rationale for an unusual cloud formation!

  15. squirrelknutz says:

    Every purile attempt at pushing the union down our throats converts another few don’t knows to yes.

    Let’s keep blogging & twittering to keep the awareness levels up, but let’s not sink to their level. We’re better than that.

    Go Scotland!

  16. Andrew Brown says:

    Paul, anent the constant barrage of condescension, insults, abuse, and patronising dismissal directed at Scotland in the UK media, yesterday one of the presenters on ITV said following news on the English team that “we’d” better mention Scotland before “we” get inundated with complaints and this morning the BBC presenter expressed surprise that Scotland got better weather in summer than New Zealand did in winter. They just can’t help themselves. Anything and everything Scottish has to be constantly derided and denigrated with as much contempt as they can muster. Bizarrely I’ve notice a huge increase in the number of TV programmes (mainly BBC) which now wholly or in part feature Scotland. Must be the love bombing (as opposed to the actual bombing we’ve been threatened with).

  17. Capella says:

    Such a petty, mean-spirited, nasty decision of Michael Fallon but so typical of the Unionist mind set. Happily, the message is striking home to the Scottish voters. Vote yes, or your taxes will continue to be squandered on military displays which don’t serve you. Very few people attended “Armed Forces Day”, in contrast to the crowds who flocked to “Bannockburn Live”. BBC Radio Scotland this morning were advertising another Red Arrows display in Scotland today. Let’s hope it receives the ignoral it deserves!

  18. Jim Galt says:

    It would be interesting to find out who was ultimately behind “Help For Heroes”. The types that man their stalls in the shopping malls don’t appear to be representative of the local demographic. I wonder if “helping heroes” is the main business in hand.

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