SNP accused of ‘hijacking saltire’

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Scottish Labour has accused the Scottish government of “hijacking the saltire for political gain” after releasing plans for the biggest St Andrews ‘do’ ever.

The proposed party, as part of the Homecoming Scotland Finale Celebrations, has caused opposition parties to criticise the “nationalism” of the events.

There are also concerns with the cost of the festivities at £434,000, – which will include ‘an assortment of free family-friendly activities’ – particularly during a recession.

Lord George Foulkes, MSP, said: “It’s as if these parties and celebrations are for their [SNP] membership. They have poached what it means to be Scottish and politicised the saltire.

“This is another example of the hijacking what it means to be Scottish. We have seen this all before from the SNP administration.”

Lord Foulkes claimed that other parties “have lost the right to carry the saltire”.

His remarks come after he described the celebrations marking the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn as “Nationalist brainwashing” and a means of the attracting party support.

The event will be centred on St Andrew Square Gardens, with various other venues across the city participating.

Culture Minister Michael Russell said: “St Andrew’s Day is a day to celebrate all that is great about Scotland – our culture, our heritage, our innovations and our people.

“This year’s celebrations will be the biggest and best yet, filled with more activity in Edinburgh than ever before and over 40 exciting enhanced and new events across the country.”

He dismissed suggestions that the event would be used as a propaganda exercise for the referendum white paper it launches on the same day.

Mr Russell added: “Like most countries, this would be a natural time to reflect upon who we are and where we are going.”

A spokesman for the party described Lord Foulkes’ comments as “petty”.

By Suhayl Afzal