WE HATE THE UNION JACK SAYS NAT SNP HATE UNION JACK; 'It Only Refers to Colonialism and the Worst Things in Northern Ireland'

By Mackenna, Ron | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), September 24, 1999 | Go to article overview

WE HATE THE UNION JACK SAYS NAT SNP HATE UNION JACK; 'It Only Refers to Colonialism and the Worst Things in Northern Ireland'


Mackenna, Ron, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


THE SNP were plunged into controversy yesterday when one of their shadow cabinet labelled the Union Flag an "offensive symbol".

Andrew Wilson MSP, the party's finance spokesman, dropped his bombshell at a meeting of Nat members.

He told them: "The Union Flag is an offensive symbol which does not refer to anything other than colonialism and some of the worst things happening in Northern Ireland."

His outburst, which threatened to overshadow the SNP conference in Inverness, provoked a furious response from political opponents - and his own party.

Scots Secretary John Reid said he was stunned and saddened and claimed Wilson's statement was an attack on "millions of decent Scots and the flag of this country".

Dr Reid added: "My father fought in the Second World War and his two brothers died in that conflict. Thousands of other Scots also fought, died or were interned in the two world wars fighting for Britain.

"It is one thing to be Scottish and proud of it. It is quite another thing to drag a great flag through the dirt.

"In their desperation to divorce us from the rest of Britain, the nationalists display their contempt for the values and ideas of the great majority of Scots.

"Only last weekend Mr Wilson was saying that the SNP must respect the notion of Britishness.

"Presumably he has been instructed by his leader to abandon that position and in so doing has made a fool of himself and his party."

Tory leader David McLetchie joined those calling for Wilson's head saying the "smear" on the national flag was "disgraceful and chilling".

McLetchie added: "He has embarked on a very dangerous and irresponsible game to promote his own narrow nationalist agenda."

He called on SNP leader Alex Salmond to distance himself from Wilson and said: "Failure to do so will only lead to them being reviled and exposed."

But Salmond - who only the day before had refused to be photographed in front of Inverness Castle while the Union Flag was flying - stayed silent.

Wilson's outburst caused panic in the SNP ranks last night with Salmond and parliamentary business manager MIke Russell said to be furious at his mistake.

One party source said: "Andrew has just destroyed his political career with one moment of madness."

Wilson's comments yesterday came at the end of an hour in which he had fended off attacks from party members furious at his earlier statement that Scots could still feel British under independence. …

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