So, Alex Salmond won. 71-29 if you believe the Guardian. Come 18 September, Scotland will vote for independence, the United Kingdom of old will never be the same again.
I’ve always thought there was quite a strong case for devolution, even independence, in Scotland. I love the place, and I’d be very sad to see our multicultural, complex archipelagic state dismantled and shorn of one of its many parts. In fact, I passionately hope they decide that we are indeed better off without a great border down the middle of our Isles.
Nor, indeed, is Salmond making a particularly good case for independence, lazily eliding England with the ideology of the free market (Adam Smith, anyone?), while seeming to suggest that Scotland will become history’s first ever environmentalist, left-wing utopia controlled by oil companies.
But lots of Scots want it, and the country has a very distinct history. Indeed, it still has its own church and legal system. It’s a shame the Scots seem to have integrated into ‘Britain’ much less well than, say, British Muslims. (No-one ever says they are a ‘British Scot’, do they?). But the fact is that Scotland is clearly a nation in its own right, and perhaps – if we follow the logic that worked so well after 1918 (ahem) – all nations should have a state.
Still, this does leave us all with a problem.
What to do with the flag.
You see, the Union Flag (usually known, usually inaccurately, as the Union Jack) is, quite frankly, bloody cool. It’s an internationally known design, a brand that packs punch from Manhattan to Mandalay, and has adorned everything from cars, to teapots, to boxer shorts.
And, because we’re quite grown up about these kind of things over here, if it’s cold and it’s your only source of fuel, you can set it on fire without anyone going mental about it.
But here’s the problem – it’s a composite, made up of the flags of the English, Scottish and Irish crowns. Now, we’ve struggled long and hard to hold on to a little corner of Ireland just so that we can keep the diagonal red bits, but if the vote on the 18th goes the wrong way, we’re going to see those lovely dark blue corners ripped away from us.
So what can we do? Will we finally lose the world’s greatest combination of red, white, and blue (sorry Thailand)? Who will recolour all those Union Jack underpants?
A solution, however, is at hand.
A couple of months ago, the European Union declared that the Cornish can now call themselves a protected minority, just like the Basques, the Lapps, and people who still listen to Gary Glitter. Now, this generated some brief and very mild scoffing from many English folk at the time. Indeed, to be sure, the Cornish independence movement has pretty shaky foundations. It’s based on two things: the fact Cornwall was added to England as late as the 800s, and its people’s unusual fondness for the letter ‘z’.
But the fact is, they have a flag. Indeed, more than this, they have a really cool one.
It’s black, with a stylish white cross. It’s a flag that looks like it’s been designed by Batman. In fact, I’d hazard the argument that out of all the constituent parts of our United Kingdom, it’s the Lads of Lizard Point who have the best pennant. Quite how the English have managed to spend decades plundering the Cornish for piss-wet holidays and revolting meat pastries, and yet have not managed to pinch their flag, I don’t know. Imperialism clearly ain’t what it used to be.
In fact Cornwall can even claim to be a kingdom. They had a king, Dumgarth, who drowned in 875 when he tried to travel home for Christmas by First Great Western. And they can lay a claim to King Arthur – sure, he didn’t really exist but why let the truth get in the way of a good independence movement?
But most importantly, nicking the black Cornish flag, and sliding it into the Union Flag to replace the cross of St Andrew, gives us this, drop-dead awesome, dark, moody, Christian-Bale-cool new emblem of – to give it its official title – the United Kingdom of England, Ireland and, er, Dumnonia.
Take that, Braveheart.
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My family was (probably still is) from Cornwall. What are they being protected against?