The SNP, children and waving the flag

I was checking the SNP web site for media releases today and I noticed for the first time that this is the image they display at the top of their home page:

snp web home page

I was struck by it for reasons I’ll discuss in a minute so I snipped the picture and tweeted it with the words – Misappropriation  of national symbol for party purposes. Political use of children. Perhaps I should have added a question mark at the end but, well, I didn’t. Within the space of a few hours it had been retweeted and commented on by more people that I would have expected.

Most comments were supportive, one or two a little over-enthusiastically so (check out Godwin’s Law) and two were hostile. One of them tried the old cybernat trick of smearing with ‘You need watching you seem terribly interested in pics of kids.’ The other did raise some substantive points:

no one image is cultivated- seems to me they represent big, small, fat, thin, white, brown, male and female [I think he meant throughout the SNP web site] … do any of the main parties stand up to scrutiny when it comes to the image portrayed? … so is it dressing kids up and getting them to wave flags that’s the wrong?

Those three questions coincidentally touch on why I was struck by the image.

The first point is that this is not just one of a whole series of images the SNP use on their web site: it’s at the top of the home page, where most people land when they look for the site. So it is significant, unless it was chosen randomly. But the SNP are too clever, and too well funded, for that.

The second point is that, yes, I did take the precaution of checking the web sites of the three main unionist parties – Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrat – both their UK and Scottish sites. Not one uses the image of a child on the banner at the top of their home page.

The third point is the one that is perhaps the most pertinent to my view of the SNP – ‘is it dressing kids up and getting them to wave flags that’s the wrong?’ Of course it’s not inherently wrong but how they do it it tells you something about the SNP and their mind set.

To return to the first thing I mentioned on Twitter – the appropriation of the saltire specifically by the SNP, and generally by those who want independence. Nothing’s going to wrench that away from them. But, sadly, it does introduce an element of ambiguity into the use by everyone else of what should be a non-party and unifying symbol. Although I went through a childhood phase of being fascinated with the flags of the world, I’m not a great fan of their role in political discourse. Not for nothing has the phrase ‘flag waving’ come to have a pejorative meaning. And not for nothing do nationalist rallies feature kilted warriors bearing ever higher poles to wave over what may be a modest gathering to make it look larger and more war-like (psychologists may have a view on what it tells us about the individuals concerned).

If a flag is symbolic, how much more redolent of meaning is a young, fresh-faced boy also waving one aloft? See, he’s smiling and looking boldly to the future. All that youthful hope and promise. Couldn’t he be your own child, or even your grandchild? The SNP are said to struggle with the older generations. What better way to tug at their heartstrings? Judging by how some SNP members adorn their children with all the national and party symbols and how the party hands out balloons for kids at all sorts of events they are likely to have thought very carefully about the potency of this image.

I’ve written before about the SNP and children (here, and then here), to the irritation of many. I believe in civic education and in teaching children about democracy and politics. My view, and it’s one I tried to inculcate in my children, is that it should teach young people to think for themselves about politics. I’m not sure that’s the SNP line, hence the boy with the flag. But then, the SNP isn’t a normal political party, is it?

Footnote – I usually say that only abusive comments will not be published on the No Thanks! blog. On this occasion any comments referring even archly to paedophilia/other political parties/other parliaments will go straight into the bin. We all know it exists but it’s never what a few nationalists claim and this is not the place for that sort of false linkage.

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5 Responses to The SNP, children and waving the flag

  1. wujeanty says:

    The thing about the image is that it is clearly Photoshopped. Badly. Which raises the question: who, exactly, is the kid? Is it actually a Scots kid? And was he holding aloft a Scots saltire? Or is it some stock photo of a kid from Getty Images or whatnot, holding up something else, and they’ve grafted the saltire on? In which case, the image – which, incidentally, I find nauseating – has been doctored with the sole intent of deceiving. I sometimes wish I was a journalist, because I would be all over these sorts of anomolies like a rash.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Roger I typed in a long response and pressed ‘Post Comment’ and got a ‘Sorry this comment could not be psoted’ notice!!!


    • Roger White says:

      Hi – I’ve checked my ‘Comments’ in-tray on WordPress and there’s nothing pending. Indeed, your comment here has been published automatically (which happens once I’ve OK’ed someone’s first comment) as the other one should have been. Also checked WordPress Help and Forum pages and there don’t seem to be any current known issues. So a bit of a mystery if frustrating for you. I’ll have to keep an eye on this. If anyone else hits similar problems and sees this, perhaps they could let me know. And if you felt able to attempt a second, shorter version of your comments … *smiles hopefully* Thanks.


  3. Nothanks5545 says:

    Roger, another interesting read.

    As I see it, there are two ways the SNP could win a majority in a second referendum.

    Firstly, they could make an outstanding success of using their majority at Holyrood and the powers they have (and those that are coming) to grow the economy and demonstrate to the population they are a credible party in government. This could persuade wavering No voters. However, they seem unwilling or unable to attempt this.

    Secondly, sow the seeds of difference and division. There is already plenty of evidence of MSPs & MPs not engaging with non-SNP supporters; the failure of many MPs to hold many (any?) surgeries to date. Subtle, and not so subtle, propaganda and indoctrination and arguably this is happening already. Could this lead to independence? Possibly.

    What I do know is that I could live in an independent Scotland under the first route. But not the second.

    Liked by 1 person

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