Until very recently, journalists and politicians in the rUK were dismissing Scottish independence as something that clearly would never happen, so no planning was necessary.
Things are starting to change, however. Two of today’s news stories were examples that people south of the border are starting to wake up to the fact that Scotland might vote Yes next year.
The first story was a BBC article about choosing a flag for the rUK. Some of the proposals are rather ludicrous, but I found their reasoning for potentially retaining the Union Jack rather interesting:
Now, the prospect of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom throws open the question again. It’s already been suggested by the College of Arms that with the Queen still head of state of an independent Scotland there would be no need for a redesign. But there is still the possibility of renewed debate.
Andrew Rosindell, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Flags and Heraldry, agrees that the matter is unclear. “There is no official legal protocol on flags, to the extent that you can’t even say that the union jack is the flag of the United Kingdom.”
“It was created at the time of the union of the crowns,” he says – as opposed to full political union, which did not happen for another 100 years. Since the movement for Scottish independence proposes to retain the British monarchy, redefining the flag in the event of a Yes vote would not make sense, says Rosindell.
It sounds a bit strange. Are they saying they can only use the Union Jack so long as Scotland remains a monarchy? Surely they’d want a flag they could use no matter what Scotland decides to do in the future? Anyway, that’s their problem. If they want the Union Jack, they can keep it.
The second news story was about the threat to Britain as a global brand if Scotland leaves.
Scottish newspapers (such as The Herald) decided to portray it as yet another bit of scaremongering, claiming it’d be bad for Scotland, too.
However, if you read the actual report (PDF), it’s clear their worry is that they have for a long time been selling England as Britain, so if the rUK starts calling itself something else, a lot of expensive branding will have been wasted. The following two sentences are rather revealing: “VisitEngland is responsible for growing the value of domestic tourism and is a key organisation in the GREAT [Britain] campaign. Funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, it works in partnership with the tourist industry in England (Wales and Scotland have separate groups) to deliver inspirational marketing campaigns and to provide advocacy.”
Also, as Interbrand (another global branding company) points out (PDF), Scotland already has a very strong brand:
Ireland and Scotland are widely acknowledged as having created country brands that punch far above their natural weight. Part of the reason for this is that they are in the so-called ‘tiger club’, small, cocky fighters who use the illusion of an enduring enemy to create a strong brand identity for themselves as the underdog.
In the case of Scotland for instance they even used an advertising line called ‘Scotland the Brand’ (replacing Scotland the brave), also, the Scottish Culture Board has sent Hollywood a training course in Scottish dialect to make sure that authentic accents are the only ones we hear on the big screen (the end of ‘Scottie’ from Star Trek perhaps).
It’s therefore clear they’re worried about themselves, not about Scotland.
It appears the rUK are currently working their way through the well-known five stages of grief (denial — anger — bargaining — depression — acceptance). I would say they’re currently progressing from denial to anger (“You can’t take our flag! You can’t ruin our brand!”). It’s good to see they’re slowly getting to terms with it.