Resist the Ubiquitous Union Jack

See original Village Aunties post from April 9 2012 which kicked off the #unnecessaryunionjacks meme.

See the Village Aunties Pinterest Board (hashtag #unnecessaryunionjacks) for our ever-growing collection of #unnecessaryunionjacks in Scotland, including a mankini, babies’ nappies, and Scottish shortbread.

Banksy artwork in London, asking some questions about where all the Union Jacks come from.

Source: normsonline.wordpress.com via Morag on Pinterest

Join in by Tweeting, Facebook-linking, emailing, commenting here, with pictures of Union Jacks in Scotland.

Read on to see some ideas for resisting the scourge of Union Jacks in Scotland.

What we’ve been doing

Village Aunties have been collecting Union Jacks from around Scotland for nearly six weeks now, mostly on Twitter (using the hashtag #unnecessaryunionjacks) and Facebook, with some folk texting and emailing examples. Thanks everyone who has sent them. With ca. 150 collected already, it is starting to feel like one is never more than five feet from a Union Jack (in Glasgow anyway; thanks to Auntie @CSbungo for this observation and for many of the ideas in this post).

Let’s keep collecting them between now and the Scottish independence referendum: the Pinterest Board will remain live. I can confirm that snapping these pics and collecting them on the Web is pretty good therapy for the range of feelings they evoke. Village Aunties would also like to spark a note of resistance: I’ll come to that further down this post, with ideas from me and from Auntie Mhairi.

Subliminal exhortation to "Love" the Union Jack in Pepperberry catalogue.

Source: bravissimo.com via Morag on Pinterest

Bella Caledonia Jack*** Collection

Note that the independence blog Bella Caledonia has also now started its own collection of Union Jacks, with a witty title, and a competition for the best submission. Let many flowers bloom and all that: I’d be happy if every pro-indy site in Scotland starts their own collection. Then it would be great to use some kind of aggregation system to pull them all together. By the way Bella, I see your man in a Union Jack suit and raise you a man in a Union Jack mankini – linked rather than embedded because it’s neither safe for work, nor safe for your very eyes: brace yourself before clicking.

Union Jacks & Saltires on Pinterest

All relevant #unnecessaryunionjacks are being collected on my Pinterest Village Aunties Board – click the link to see them, and feel free to comment on individual entries. I’ve also had some help from Emma Nicol and Sheila MacNeill, intrepid Aunties both, who have been out and about snapping Union Jacks and pinning them straight to the board. If you are a Pinterest user and would like to contribute directly, let me know.

I’ve also been collecting a very paltry number of Saltires, which seem to have all but disappeared from shelves of tat and shop windows, and had a contribution from a Village Auntie in Newcastle of some St. George’s Cross knickers in John Lewis, which apparently didn’t sell very well (but at least they had the choice of their own national flag, dammit!).

There is a diamante cross right where your back passage would go.

Source: twitter.com via Morag on Pinterest

Criteria for submitting photos

The general criteria for #unnecessaryunionjacks are: they should be found in Scotland, and they should be in the public eye-line (i.e. not the Union Jack inside your shoe indicating it was made in the UK). This includes advertisements (e.g. catalogues that come through your letter-box) and actual products that appear in Scotland. Just appearing on the Internet with no specific Scottish presence or connection doesn’t count.

The Jubilympics and why that’s no excuse

Any Union Jacks specifically appearing as part of either London Olympics or Royal Jubilee promotions should also be tagged #jubilympics. A few people have suggested that the imminence of these two events somehow negates what we are doing here, or skews the sample, or something, but for me it is more than pertinent that this is happening at this exact juncture in Scottish history. See this picture from Berlin in the run-up to the 1936 Olympics compared to a recent picture of Oxford Road in London. Just sayin’, don’t Godwinate me.

Source: ushmm.org via Morag on Pinterest

Source: twitter.com via Morag on Pinterest

A Counter-Propaganda Campaign

Some ideas for a counter-Union Jack campaign:
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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.

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