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Saturday, 20 September 2014

The flower wilts, the fern rises

The former British Olivetti Typewriter Company factory in Glasgow, built at a time, immediately after Word War II, when the British Government actively fostered foreign investment and economic growth in Scotland. The Government will now have to start talking turkey to the Scots again, starting with a tax upheaval.
Those days are passed now
And in the past they must remain
But we can still rise now
And be the nation again
- Flower of Scotland, the unofficial Scottish national anthem
The Scottish Commonwealth Games team uniform
After a brief highland fling with Scottish nationalism while Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games (once known as the British Empire Games) from July 23-August 3, Scotland yesterday came back down to earth and voted 55.3 per cent-44.7 per cent to not break free from the United Kingdom. The sighs of relief could be heard from Whitehall to the Royal Mile. For the time being, at least, the Union Jack retains its dash of blue and Britain's stockpile of nuclear weapons stays put, north of the Borders.
Meanwhile, in Scottish-influenced New Zealand, it seems voters will also opt for the status quo, and return conservative party Prime Minister John Key to power in the national election tomorrow. The good news is that if Key is retained, he has promised to hold a referendum on the national flag and the Union Jack may disappear completely from its top left corner.
I do hope that Key, if he holds on to the prime ministership, will prove to be as good as his word. The latest poll on the flag question, in July last year, showed 61 per cent of New Zealanders wanted a change, to something more akin to the Canadian flag - which means, of course, sans the Union Jack.
An independent Scotland would have been happy to hold on to St Andrew's Cross. Which is just as well, since the thistle is no maple leaf and a tartan flag might be a wee bit too much. (I do quite like the rampant red lion on a yellow background, however.)
For New Zealand, I'd love to see the national symbol, the silver fern, feature prominently if a new national flag is to be introduced. It could still corporate the four stars representing the Southern Cross.
The silver fern was embraced as the official emblem of the New Zealand rugby union team, the All Blacks, in 1892, and was soon adopted by other sporting teams and as a national symbol in all spheres. It was the idea of a great rugby player, Thomas Rangiwahia Ellison (1866-1904), who captained the All Blacks in 1893 and devised the lethal 2-3-2 scrum. In 1891 he became one of the first Maori solicitors. 
But back to Scotland. At least 90 per cent of the electorate turned out to vote in yesterday's independence referendum. Like Tom Ellison 91 years earlier, I was on a rugby trip to Edinburgh in March 1979 when the first Scottish devolution vote was held, and while 51.6 per cent supported the proposal, the turnout was a mere 64 per cent, meaning the "Yes" vote was only worth 32.9 per cent of the registered electorate, short of the required 40 per cent. I felt disappointed in the outcome back then, but progress has been made.
As for Australia, no new flag, nor a republican, appears to be on the horizon. If a new flag is introduced in New Zealand before 2017, it would be acutely embarrassing for this country.
Regardless of what happens in the coming years, Scotland already has one advantage over Australia and New Zealand: it was the home of at least two typewriter factories, both in Glasgow - one owned by Remington and the other by Olivetti:

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