The trouble with devolution April 19, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Tags: devolution, flags
Those are all knotty problems, admittedly. But the real problem is, if devolution takes the path that many fear it might and leads to the break-up of our glorious kingdom – in a Yugoslavia-but-with-cups-of-tea scenario, as I once heard Andrew Sullivan call it – is what are we going to do about the flag? Sorry, I’m being a bit anglocentric here. I mean, the Scots love their flag, I think. (The Russians wouldn’t have minded a cross of St. Andrew when it came to getting rid of the Hammer and Sickle and alternatives were being sought. I think it’s what they have on their naval flag(s?).) The Welsh, understandably, as it’s such a top flag, love theirs (or at least should). Northern Ireland’s probably appeals to the majority, but I don’t suppose the minority likes the cross of St. George and the red hand. (Mind you, what do folk think of the cross of St. Patrick on the Union Jack?) (Ulstermen might have to do a Bosnia and come up with some ludicrous compromise flag.)
No, I mean England. I’m aware we’re talking hypotheses here, and I don’t really think that the UK is going to be torn apart and that there’ll be tanks at Monmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed. No, I’m talking pure aesthetics. I mean, I know the English have vaguely taken the English flag to their hearts and wave it when Jonny Wilkinson is parading around town on a bus – I’d wave anything I was asked to at a bus of rugby-players – and that teenagers paint their faces with it at football matches, pretending to be Scandinavian. (It’s a bit easier than the Union Jack, luckily for them.) But if, in some crazy twist of events, England really did find itself going it alone – at least then we wouldn’t have to justify to foreign folk why we have four football teams as one country and not one – would the Union Jack bite the dust? It couldn’t. It’s just too bloody pretty. So I suggest – I might send this to a think-tank, or have to set up my own think-tank. God, it must be because of spring. I’m (mentally) setting up NGOs and think-tanks like nobody’s business these days – that rather than a Yugoslavia-style break-up of blood and acrimony, we should have a velvet divorce, à la Czechoslovakia. Not only did they break up civilly and agree to remain friends, they even did a bit of border-fiddling to make sure Slovak villages ended up on the Slovak side of the border and Czech villages on the Czech side. But what to do about the flag? While it wasn’t as pretty as the Union Jack, in my view, that nice constructivist blue wedge was pretty original, and not to be done away with. But the Slovaks said, “No, you can’t. That’d be naughty, Czecho, to keep the old flag. We’re getting a new one, you should too.” To which the Czechs replied, “Erm, no.” And keep it they did.
This is all blogging’s fault, by the way. Nothing to do with jingoism. I was looking at my deeply unimpressive stats and my visitors tend to come from the UK and Germany. Germany’s flag is a touch dour. France’s is nice, in a straightforward way, but Lithuania’s – yes, I had a visitor from Lithuania, imagine! – looks like a colour-blind person has designed it. No coordination. Actually, Canada’s is pretty fab, so compromise solutions can work out after all. Maybe it is down to a yearning for warm beer and old maids and cricket on the green – mind you, I grew up in London. Our nearest bit of green was Queens Park, and no-one played cricket there. Just us local urchins and other nefarious ne’er-do-wells loitering, if I remember rightly – but I think we should keep the Union Jack and let Georgia have the cross of St. George all to itself.