The National:

FIRST they came for our raspberries. Then our home grown veg. Even some butcher meat and sausages were similarly adorned. The culinary world is falling platter by platter into the hands of those tasked with festooning Scottish produce with the union flag.

Not that any of the Scottish producers are exactly encouraged to demur. Or the rest of us. Any questioning of this new flurry of Union Jackery puts the Scottish Tories in a bit of a lather.

How dare some uppity jocks care about the provenance of carrots when we are mid-pandemic? Where are their priorities? Have they no sense of proportion? I have some news for them. The very same flag obsessives even have the virus in their sights. Or, more precisely, the longed for protection from it.

Those eager beavers in the new Union unit – aka the Union taskforce, aka Govey’s gremlins, have reputedly got their eyes on more impressive targets than what restless Scottish natives put in their fridges.

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According to the Huffpost website, the Downing Street unit with the unenviable task of making the Scots love Boris has asked the folk producing the Oxford-based vaccine to ensure it’s properly branded British, by attaching the aforementioned flag to its kits. Which just might put some other folks in a lather, thinking that Westminster is overly pre-occupied with imagery, not even to mention chucking fat PPE contracts at party donors. Or pals with no relevant experience but the nous to launch a start up in a crisis. When the going gets tough, the Tory trough gets crowded.

But I digress. This wheeze, when apparently stumbled upon by Huffpost’s finest, was then the subject of one of these clever non denial, denials. You know the kind of thing. “No plans at present. Entirely up to manufacturers. They know best about packaging their products.” And the nation sighs with relief and re-buttons the rear of its napper.

Now I’m not saying I know just where this notion originated. I’m not about to remind you that when cheques went out from the US treasury as part of a stimulus package to help the economically battered, the outgoing President insisted on signing them all with his own moniker. So that the grateful throngs might suppose he’d put his hand in his own pocket.

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No shame in that. Everyone knows Trump’s largesse is legendary – so long as your last name is Trump.

Personally I’m not so much affronted at this obsession with the Union flag, as flabbergasted at how very little this unit and its puppet masters understand about the Scottish psyche. Or the current political landscape north of Berwick.

For years now, assorted politicians have tried to inject a renewed sense of Britishness as if it could be introduced like a, well, vaccine. It doesn’t work like that, no matter the formula, no matter the dosage.

Year after year the polls tell us that the only demographic which still feels more British than Scottish is that which still gets dewy eyed at choristers belting out how long the road to Tipperary is. And that’s because they and theirs had personal experience of the time when Britain was indeed a unit. Though never a nation.

That is a vanishingly small group. Not in any way to insult them or their personal history, but tomorrow belongs to their grandchildren. And I’m betting most of them self identify as Scots. Whether or not they have a Saltire about their person.