Tuesday 29 June 2004

In praise of Jack McConnell. Sort of.

There's been a bit of a row here in Scotland over the latest waste of taxpayers' money:
SCOTLAND has an inspiring new symbol - created using £300,000 of public cash - to promote the country abroad. It features a white, diagonal cross on a blue background and will be called... the Saltire.

Hold on a minute. Isn’t that the very same design that has been a proud symbol of Scottishness for almost 1,200 years? Isn’t it already on flags flying from hundreds of major buildings? Isn’t it imprinted on the consciousness of five million Scots at home, and more abroad?

Well, yes, but that hasn’t stopped the Scottish Executive spending a third of a million pounds and many weeks canvassing world opinion on what should be the ultimate symbol of Scottishness, and deciding: it is the cross of St Andrew.

It is of course ridiculous to spend all that money on discovering what any normal person already knows: that the Saltire is an appropriate symbol for Scotland.

But let's look on the bright side. Normally government projects incur a huge amount of tax-financed expenditure - thus taking resources from the productive part of the economy - and then cause further harm by actually implementing the policy itself. In this case the £300,000 has indeed been wasted, but, amazingly, the correct solution has been found. Is this a first?

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