Byline: JOHN DABELL, East Grinstead, Sussex.
LIKE many Britons, I was proud to 'raise the flag' for the Queen's Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics/ Paralympics. I even bought and erected a flagpole to do it justice.
I looked with pride on our Union Flag, to my mind, the best flag in the world. A flag not simply woven, but forged in fires of contention through to brotherhood, tested in battle and proven in sacrifice over many years -- the flag of a single United Kingdom: Great Britain and Northern Ireland. A small nation but, nonetheless, it would seem, approved by God to take the message of His Son to three-quarters of the world.
But as I looked upon our flag, I felt sad, thinking of the prodigal voices north of the Border and of those who live on foreign shores who'd like to see Scotland outside the Union and St Andrew's cross stricken from our Union flag. At a stroke, more damage could be done to the cohesion that exists within our brotherhood of a nation than Napoleon or Hitler could have dreamt of.
Would Wales, then, be far behind, with Northern Ireland already in high contention? Silly as it might sound, what about Cornwall, or Yorkshire, Kent or Cumberland? Make no mistake; other nations would not be long in picking at the wounded Lion: the Falklands, Gibraltar and even the Channel Islands would soon find themselves in contention, without the clear backing of a United Kingdom. The notion of a United Kingdom, of a Great Britain with a united flag, first came to James VI of Scotland when he also became England's James I, but it wasn't until the voluntary Act of Union some years later that it became a full reality.
This same King James, to calm the constant 'reiving' (raids) across the borders between Scotland and England, sent many members of key Scottish border clans, especially Armstrongs and Elliotts, overseas, particularly to Northern Ireland. Hence it was from Castlerock in Northern Ireland that a very young Robert Elliott came (back) to settle with his new wife in Edinburgh in …