Hijacked by xenophobic organisations

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I have read recent letters on the subject of flags with interest as I do like to see individuals and establishments flying flags as, for me at least, it displays a positive and proper sense of pride, as well as serving to brighten up any vista.

Moreover, in an area reliant on tourism, it tends to be good for business.

However, flags of any sort are open to abuse by hard-line organisations and can be used as rallying calls and to intimidate the targets of their vitriol.

An example of this is occurring south of the border where the Cross of St George (and to a lesser extent the Union flag) has regrettably been hijacked by xenophobic organisations in an attempt to falsely legitimise their distasteful politics, making it a harder decision for individuals to display their well-placed national pride by flying a flag.

Thus it is important that the rules (where they exist) for the flying of existing flags are adhered to so that such traditional symbols are not used by hard-line groups to advertise their presence and to intimidate.

Fortunately, the Saltire has not become tainted like the Cross of St George and it remains, as far as I know, an excellent option for those Scots with a flag pole to display their national pride without opening themselves up to accusations of being radically partisan.

But can the same be said for the Royal Standard of Scotland (the yellow flag with a red lion within a red rectangle) which is being increasingly, but incorrectly, flown (on the basis hotels, shops and private houses are not unoccupied royal residences and their occupiers have not been formally appointed as representatives of the sovereign) from flag poles by individuals and establishments in the area?

Are these people just unwittingly displaying their ignorance of Scottish heraldry and that they are challenging an act of the Scottish Parliament (albeit it an old one)? Or are they very well aware of the rules and history associated with the flying of this flag and, by choosing to fly it, are they making a public display of their contempt for the authority of the Court of the Lord Lyon, the procurator fiscal, the Scottish Parliament and/or the reigning monarch?

Time, I think, for those well-meaning individuals and businesses that are just guilty of being careless with the rules to take down the Royal Standard from their flag poles and fly something more appropriate instead (after all, what is wrong with the Saltire?). For those who know the rules, but obviously have a hard-held gripe, tell us what they are protesting about or what their cause is.

C. Watson

Jedburgh