Thursday, 11 June 2015

Flags of our children

A guy called Roman Mars did this TED thing on the design of US city flags recently. Which reminded me of some idle thoughts I once had about what the flag of  The Rest Of  The UK (TROTUK) ought to look like in the event of a Scexit, or whatever the hell you'd call a Scottish exit from the Union.

I came up with this:
The Red Ensign, as flown by British merchant vessels, seemed like a good place to start, reflecting the fact that TROTUK would still be part of an island with a long maritime heritage. In place of the Union Jack, I inserted a white circle containing a vertical line on a blue ground in the top left corner, which was supposed to represent the globe, bisected by the Greenwich Meridian,* another nod to the islands' maritime, globetrotting history (Greenwich might seem be a bit too England-centric, but I liked the global symbolism, not to mention the celebration of intellectual achievement and Swansea, Cardiff and Belfast all share the whole maritime thing).

Although I say it myself, I prefer my design to some of the other suggestions people have come up with, because:
  • It's reasonably simple and striking.
  • The Red Ensign has a purposeful, businesslike look, which I like.
  • The red, white and blue colour scheme gives a bit of continuity with the existing British flag.
  • It's fairly outward-looking, celebrating these islands' links with the rest of the world**, rather than perpetuating a xenophobic inward-looking nationalism.
  • It's obvious which way up it goes, unlike the Union Jack which looks almost identical either way up but has a slight vertical asymmetry which can lead to pompous, humourless pedants delighting in taking  huffy offence whenever somebody inadvertently flies the damn thing upside down*** (if you don't want people to get it wrong, design a better flag - you don't see people getting confused about which way up the Stars and Stripes or the Canadian flag should go, because somebody had the gumption to make it completely obvious).
  • There are no more crosses, so it doesn't privilege any one religion in a society that now includes people espousing all sorts of religious beliefs, not to mention quite a lot of irreligious people.
I must admit that it was fun to play around with the design, although I hope that squabbling nationalisms don't really force anybody to adopt any design for a TROTUK flag, a circumstance which could cause rather more pressing problems than just having to remember which way up a badly-designed national flag should go.

*Of course, there's always a danger of inadvertent symbolism, but I think my design's too geometrical to fall into that particular trap. It is, isn't it?

**We might not want to celebrate some of the times when we've reached out and touched the rest of the world (these islands' involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, the Opium Wars and the Bengal Famine were particular low points), but you can't sanitise history.

***These are the same sort of people who delight in correcting you when you call it the Union Jack, rather than the Union Flag (such people are, of course, completely up themselves and completely wrong).