DESPITE some wishful thinking on the fringes, Scotland's independence referendum isn't the Orange Order versus the Bannockburn Re-enactment Society.
Just ask the Basques and Catalans what they make of the tone of Scotland's debate. They'll go for sedate over shrill, intellectual over emotional, issues over identity, a product of the Enlightenment rather than cultural suppression. So the introduction by Labour and Tory politicians in Scotland's heritage capital of combustible proposals around flags and dead patriots is, well, a bit odd.
In the main, there's been a studied avoidance of identity issues in the independence debate, with the London Olympics the only real stand-out flare-up. (I do hope Andy Murray keeps his views to himself.)
It's there of course, with wings on either side accusing the other of divisive, narrow nationalisms and unsavoury international associations. But while the recent independence rally in Edinburgh was a bit "flaggy", for the Yes camp the sense of Scottishness is already implicit and doesn't rely on a Lion Rampant for re-enforcement.
For the No campaign it is arguably trickier. Selling Better Together on Union flags could suggest to public sector Scotland its future was in the hands of a bunch of English Tories.
More effective to have it spearheaded by Labour types, for whom the Union flag is often an uncomfortable fit and whose political creed is based around notions of social justice not UK nationalism.
Even Better Together's branding talks to the duality of identity its supporters find natural, while one interpretation of the recent census, with 62% declaring themselves Scottish, is that the referendum is not a poll on a sense of belonging.
So why on earth was Stirling Council's administration deciding to replace the Saltire over its headquarters with a Union flag, lodging motions honouring "the symbols that the men and women of Stirling have fought and died under for 300 years" and condemning "the debasing of our symbols"?
If the referendum will be won by convincing the undecideds of the merits of either case it won't be through hijacking and monopolising the Union flag or Saltire. The flags crowd have made up their minds. Even Northern Ireland's uber-Unionists the DUP are looking forward to a case for the UK being made without reliance on emotions, flags and symbols.
The only explanation is some local dynamics, an attempt to lure SNP opponents into a trap which has backfired and ended up making it look like a tactic of Ukip's student wing.
The Better Together-supporting Stirling administration also has the National Trust for Scotland's 700th Bannockburn anniversary on its doorstep, something it is determined will not be a platform for Nationalist sentiment.
It's no real surprise that, hours before the plans were to be approved, they have been dropped, "undermined by the usual vitriolic tone of the Nationalists" the official explanation.
One suspects there may also have been some vitriol in the offices of Better Together, which is better without draping itself in flags and jingoism rows.
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