FLAGGING UP OFFENCE

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
The question that sits beneath both images ought to be simple to answer.  A Swastika or the First Minister holding a saltire?

But this is Scotland and in this Alice through the Looking Glass environment that is the Scottish media, what may appear offensive is acceptable whilst what may appear innocuous is in fact offensive.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
The question that sits beneath both images ought to be simple to answer.  A Swastika or the First Minister holding a saltire?

But this is Scotland and in this Alice through the Looking Glass environment that is the Scottish media, what may appear offensive is acceptable whilst what may appear innocuous is in fact offensive.

I, like many, watched Andy Murray make sporting history on Sunday. 

The moment of triumph, for me at least, resulted in an emotional and passionate cry of ‘YES!’ as I jumped up in celebration.  Millions of people not just Scotland and the rest of the UK, but the whole world, would have reacted similarly.

Sat at Wimbledon with his wife Moira, First Minister Alex Salmond held up a saltire in celebration of what is surely the greatest ever single sporting achievement by a Scottish man or woman.

The gesture brought criticism from many of Mr Salmond’s political opponents, both elected and unelected.  Not unexpected, given anything the First Minister does usually comes in for criticism from Scotland’s band of Unionist brothers.

However, sadly on this occasion, the serial complainers managed to persuade the BBC to get in on the act.

So it was that a splendidly sunny and optimistic Monday morning – Murray Monday dubbed by some – was spoilt by the small but influential group who have ruined the BBC’s reputation in Scotland.

A routine interview on Murray’s historic win was hijacked as First Minister Alex Salmond found himself under attack for daring to hold a Scottish flag aloft in that moment of national euphoria.

The questions were batted away easily by Salmond who took it in his stride – he has faced much tougher questions than this.  However it left a bitter taste and there was more to come when the ever predictable Kaye Adams plumbed new depths with a ‘phone-in’ that was itself offensive.

The entire phone in could be forensically examined and would no doubt provide first class material for a psychologist studying the psyche of the colonised mind.  But there’s little point in raking over what is a new low point in the dreadful ‘Call Kaye’ series.

What kind of person thinks it a good idea to question their own nation’s right to embrace as one of their own, this sporting hero.  Murray is Scottish, yet for reasons that we’ll never fully fathom Kaye Adams’ show implied that somehow Scotland and its people had no right to lay claim to him.

The show also contained a few thinly veiled references to the Salmond saltire episode for good measure.

Salmond’s saltire moment was uncomfortable for Unionists, it was unscripted and – despite what the media might say – the First Minister had no idea whether the moment would be broadcast.

But luck being what it is, the BBC pointed towards Cameron at just that moment and the image was beamed around the world.  It’s worth noting that so offensive is the saltire in the hands of Alex Salmond to the BBC that the broadcaster edited it out of their online video.

It’s also worth noting that BBC Scotland have provided more critical coverage to a Scottish flag at Wimbledon than they did to a Swastika defacing the same flag.

It was unbecoming say Unionists, for Salmond to wave a Scottish flag.  It politicised a sporting moment others argued – including Mr Salmond’s political inquisitor on BBC Radio Scotland.

Where were these reporters and politicians when the London Olympics were being politicised by Unionists – the stadium itself turned into a giant Union flag.  Just how dignified was the Queen’s participation in the opening ceremony or Boris Johnson dangling from a high wire waving Union flags?

Princess Anne unfurled a flag at the Paralympics and nobody batted an eyelid.  And David Cameron himself was pictured unfurling a Union flag at the London Olympics.

When South Africa appeared in the rugby world cup, President Nelson Mandela sported a rugby top in his nation’s colours.

But none of these political leaders and dignitaries is currently leading a party seeking independence for Scotland and an end to rule from Westminster.

That’s the difference and why BBC Scotland ran their wee spoilers on a day of national celebration.

Murray’s win spooked them – Murray is no Chris Hoy – and the saltire held by Salmond was, to them, a provocative reminder of this.

“A stunt” cried Salmond’s critics.  Something that can’t be levelled against David Cameron who, with a saltire flying on the Downing Street flagpole, popped out the front door of Number 10 to offer Murray a Knighthood and a glass of wine.

“It raises lots of interesting questions” said Andrew Kerr on Newsnight Scotland, one of which was apparently the First Minister’s waving of the saltire.  The other was whether Murray himself held a view on Scottish independence.

You can almost smell their fear …

 

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