Unnecessary Union Jacks in Scotland: Uncovering Subliminal Advertising

Big thanks to @CSbungo for the idea for this blog post and for alerting me to many unnecessary Union Jacks in Scotland!

Just as a starter for 10: the actual development of this post was sparked by the latest Pepperberry women’s clothing catalogue which arrived on my mat a couple of weeks ago. I’ve started off the collection of #unnecessaryunionjacks images on the Village Aunties Pinterest board with pictures from that catalogue. For example (and yes, every model in the entire catalogue is white and thin, surprise surprise), see the picture below. I’d like your help to gather more examples; read on!

Source: bravissimo.com via Morag on Pinterest


So. The ramping up of British nationalism over the past few years has been palpable across the UK, and a flood of Union Jacks and related imagery has been evident. Clearly it serves a number of conservative, capitalist and reactionary purposes, not just that of trying to convince Scottish people not to vote for independence. However, the ubiquity of Union Jacks in Scotland feels extra intrusive now that we have an independence referendum coming.

Anyway, so sick am I of seeing Union Jacks popping up in all kinds of ridiculous and unnecessary places in Scotland, I figured I would address this with a blog post simply observing and collecting images of where they are found. I’ve engaged Twitter (with the hashtag #unnecessaryunionjacks), Facebook, and my Pinterest account’s Village Aunties board to start gathering images and links. And now I’m putting this blog post up as a holding space to be filled in later as new pics and stories come in, for the sake of you who only engage here. Just a bit of Easter weekend fun, and hopefully a more colourful, less wordy blog post than usual.

So start sending me pics, or stories of things you couldn’t snap photies of, including instances where you’ve seen an unnecessary Union Jack in a TV programme that broadcasts to the whole UK, or even one that is Scotland-only. What do I mean by unnecessary? I will leave that up to you but I may end up exercising some editorial control; for instance, a news story on an Orange March should probably include images of Union Jacks!

Thanks to Alexander Belic on Twitter for alerting me to this news story about Asda asking its suppliers not to use Union Jack packaging for fear of “offending” Scottish and Northern Irish customers. It’s the Daily Mail, so who knows how accurate it is, but interesting nonetheless. Links and stories like this welcome to round out this post.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hamstair_toilichte
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 16:29:38

    I haven’t seen what you’ve seen whilst in Scotland, including very recently. Union jacks are pretty thin on the ground there, though I couldn’t comment on the ‘subliminal’ use of them. They’re definitely thin on the ground in Ingerlan, where the default for ‘patriots’ is now the St George’s flag. Which has much darker associations of reaction, fascism and racism than does the Union Jack. Not least because it was the BNP emblem for so long, before it drifted into the mainstream a couple of World Cups ago. Compared to the St George flag, the Union Jack is positively progressive and inclusive ;-)

    It’s always amused me that the patron saint of Ingerlan, so pugnaciously lauded and sung about by paunchy (Danish) lager-swilling White Van Men and Ingerlan fans, was a distinctly non-English Palestinian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_George)

    Reply

    • Morag Eyrie
      Apr 25, 2012 @ 17:42:11

      Yes that is amusing re St George, I’ve always thought so!

      I think the Union Jack is specifically about promoting *the Union* so that’s why it’s creeping presence everywhere is so pertinent to the Scottish independence campaign. We don’t really care about the English flag either way up here; I’m sure it could become a symbol of a positive Englishness if enough folk push it that way.

      The Union Jack also stinks of the Orange Order: not exactly a progressive force in Scotland! Not to mention all the other places in the world where it’s the Butcher’s Apron, not a force for good. A friend in New Zealand half-jokingly sent me this page for #unnecessaryunionjacks – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_New_Zealand – I had to point out that the only reason our hashtag isn’t #unnecessaryunionjacksinscotland is because that doesn’t leave you much room for an actual tweet. But I took her point.

      I think one of the things about the Union Jacks that are invading public space in Scotland (and have been for at least a couple of years before the whole #jubilympics thing) is that they are everywhere in our everyday life; a visitor might not notice. Just in shops and on billboards and flyers and clothes and stuff. They are certainly just as ubiquitous in Birmingham and Manchester, the two English cities I’ve visited recently. The thing is folk don’t start to even notice until you point it out; that is one of the main reasons for this blog post, to get folk to notice what’s going on around them, and question it.

      Reply

  2. Trackback: Resist the Ubiquitous Union Jack « village aunties

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