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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Political row over flag flying
The saltire is at the centre of a political row
A political row has broken out over a call by a group of MSPs to replace the Union flag on Edinburgh Castle with the saltire.

Twenty Scottish Nationalist MSPs have signed a parliamentary motion in support of the idea.

However, at the Conservative Conference in Blackpool, the party's Scottish leader David McLetchie said the move was a "disgrace".

The motion from Christine Grahame MSP welcomes the fact that the army is already using the saltire in a recruitment drive - and says the union flag on the castle should be replaced in the interests of consistency.

Christine Grahame
Christine Grahame: Tabled motion

However, Mr McLetchie said the motion illustrates the pettiness of the SNP's "little Scotland" attitude.

He said: "This 'Little Scotland' mentality is perfectly illustrated by the Scottish Nationalists' demand for the hauling down of the Union Jack which proudly flies over the barracks at Edinburgh Castle.

"What a disgrace. What an insult to our Armed Services which Scots have served in for generations at a time when they are engaged in the war against terrorism."

Mr McLetchie believes that the timing of the motion is both insensitive and wrong given the allied military strikes on Afghanistan.

David McLetchie
David McLetchie: "Little Scotlanders"
But the SNP has defended its position and said it cannot understand Mr McLetchie's opposition to the motion.

Outlining his vision for the Scottish Conservatives, Mr McLetchie also attacked the Scottish Executive as "outdated".

He said: "We know that we need a partnership between the public and private sector in health care which will raise standards for all our people to the levels of France and Germany.

"But this is spurned by the 'Little Scotlanders' in the Scottish Executive.

"We need to devolve power and responsibility within our education system so that our schools reflect the values of the local communities which they serve and are set free from council control as happens in many other countries - but the 'Little Scotlanders' want to preserve a failed status quo."

The Scots Tory leader told delegates the party had to focus on the next Scottish Parliamentary election in May 2003 and aim to be involved in government.

He said: "Because of this timetable, we can and must be trailblazers for the UK party, working hand in hand with Iain Duncan Smith and his Shadow cabinet to develop and win support for our Conservative agenda on public services and the economy."

See also:

08 Oct 01 | UK Politics
We will prevail, vows Duncan Smith
20 Jun 00 | Scotland
Scot sees red over flag blue
01 Dec 99 | Scotland
St Andrew's Day holiday call
13 Nov 99 | Battle of Britain
London flies the Scottish flag
24 Sep 99 | UK Politics
MSP apologies over flag remark
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