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Scottish independence referendum, 2014

Last modified: 2020-01-05 by rob raeside
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Introduction

The contributions below describe flags used in the campaign preceding the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.
Tomislav Todorovic, 30 January 2018


Pro-independence flags

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018
based on https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yes_Scotland_logo.svg

The main pro-independence symbol in the campaign was the word Yes, the letters conjoined into a single shape. It is derived from the logo of Yes Scotland, the designated organization campaigning for independence, which was founded in accordance with the legislation regulating the referendum [1]. The emblem was sometimes depicted in white on blue flags (shade as in the flag of Scotland), but these were rarely seen [2, 3, 4, 5, 6], while the hand-held posters with the same design were used much more, as well as the circular stickers which were applied to different items, including the Scottish flag.
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

Perhaps the most frequently used pro-independence flags were those with a voided *Yes* logo over the Scottish saltire, the inscription being created by an outline in black or light gray [7]. The flags seem to have been used equally frequently, often together [8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15].
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

Rarely, flags with Yes logo over the Scottish saltire had a dark blue field, closer to that of the Union Jack, or more likely, that of the European Union flag. The logo on them was usually in gold colour and fimbriated of the field [16, 17, 18].
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

The flag with white Yes logo in left-from center canton was even less frequently seen - its only known photo is from Edinburgh, dated on 2013-09-21 [19]. (On the photo, it looks as if flown with the sinister hoist, without any clue whether it is obverse or reverse, so the canton bearing the logo cannot be described either as "hoist" or as "fly".)
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

On the flags with standard blue field, the Yes logo was sometimes black and placed over the saltire. They usually looked like having been professionally manufactured [20, 21, 22], but there are also examples where the logo looked as if painted over the flag by amateurs - not quite regular, and paint having faded very quickly, looking gray and transparent [23].
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

Another flag with a single recorded appearance was photographed in Glasgow on 2014-09-13 [24]. There, the Yes logo was smaller than usual, completely within the saltire, and voided, with a blue outline in darker shade than the flag field. When zoomed in, the photo reveals that the logo was most likely drawn by felt-tip pen - the outline has many irregularities indicating that, although the shape was actually drawn quite correctly.
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

Another rarely seen flag has the large Yes logo placed over the saltire, in a dark blue colour and with a double fimbriation, wide inner one in white and narrow outer one in the same dark shade of blue: The only two photos of this flag which are currently available [25, 26] most likely display the same flag, since not only the architectural details (windows, facade decorations) look the same, but the flag position looks so as well. The fact that one photo illustrates an article about Glasgow [25], while the other is explicitly stated to have been taken in Edinburgh [26], does not matter much, since there is no mention in the first case of the place where the photo was made [25], so it may have been chosen simply as a good illustration.
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

Another flag with a single recorded appearance was photographed in Edinburgh on 2014-09-11 [27]. The logo, its size and position matching those on the previously described flag, is white here, with a red outline.
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 February 2018

[Yes flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 28 April 2018

The 'Yes' logo was used both in white color on blue field, and vice versa, but the first of these combinations was almost exclusively used on the flags. The only recorded appearance of the white flag with blue logo was in August 2014, when it was attached to the Duke of Wellington's monument in Glasgow [41, 42, 43]. In addition, a traffic cone, painted blue with white 'Yes' logo, was put on the Duke's head instead of a hat, and a smaller yellow cone was attached to the horse's forehead in order to "transform" it into an unicorn.
Tomislav Todorovic, 28 April 2018

Prior to August 2014, the flag was also seen on 2013-09-21, during the
independence rally in Edinburgh [44, 45].
Tomislav Todorovic, 19 November 2019


Flags of independence opponents

[No flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 19 November 2019

The independence opponents seem to have used much fewer flags made specifically for the campaign than the independence supporters, considering that there have been much fewer online photos of their flags. The designated organization campaigning against the independence, named Better Together, seems not to have used its name and logo on the flags, not having used it much elsewhere either, for as early as in June 2012, it adopted a No Thanks branding [28, 29], the words being written in two rows, the upper larger than the lower so that both rows occupy the same length; all letters were upper case and O was actually a disc "pierced" with an check mark in shape of an irregular letter X. The words appeared on a white disc, placed on a background in same color as the text. Different colors were used, but the only known example of the flag used red [29]. In contrast, the design was extensively used on the posters, especially the hand-held ones which countered those used by the Yes Scotland campaign.
Tomislav Todorovic, 5 February 2018

In the meantime, more online photos of these flags were discovered, both from the same event [46, 47] and from several others [48, 49, 50, 51]. All of them display hand-held flags, with the ratio of about 3:4. The disc may actually be a little smaller that depicted here and shifted towards the top edge, with the inscription in tiny white letters which contains the information about the flag manufacturer and ordering party (the latter being identified as the Better Together organization); as the text is not completely legible in the available sources (when displaying the image only in the browser, only parts of the text, including the above information, can be clearly read), and is certainly not the integral part of the design (seems to never appear in the hand-held and other posters which repeat it), it was omitted from this reconstruction of the flag.

The above seems to apply to the hand-held flags only, for it is seen only in their photos, more of which also exist [52, 53, 54]. The only photo of a full-size flag currently available online [55] reveals a centered disc and no inscription below, as can be seen when displaying the image only in the browser and maximum zooming.
Tomislav Todorovic, 19 November 2019

[No flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 30 December 2019

Another flag with the *No Thanks* logo employed blue colour instead of red; the shade was very dark, looking almost black in some photos [56, 57, 58]. All currently known photos display hand-held flags, the ratio being about 3:4. As with the flags which employed red colour, the same remarks about the disc size and position and the inscription beneath it apply here. While no photos of full-size flags are currently known, those details were absent from the hand-held and other posters with this design variant as well, which is why they are omitted from the flag reconstruction here again.
Tomislav Todorovic, 30 December 2019

[No flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 5 February 2018

The Union Jack was sometimes defaced with the word NO, in a manner similar to the use of word Yes for defacing the Scottish flag. One variant used the word in white, in center of the cross of St George; the ratio was1:2, as visible from the saltire of St Patrick. There seem to have been very few copies of this flag: all the photos currently found online were taken in Edinburgh in September 2014 and seem to show the same copy [30, 31, 32].

[No flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 5 February 2018

A more frequently used variant was less oblong, the ratio having been 3:5, or sometimes 5:8, a ratio frequently used by flag manufacturers, although totally unofficial. The word NO was much larger there and in a much more condensed typeface, in a light grayish-blue colour; the shade varied a bit and so did the position of the text, which was centered vertically and off-centre horizontally, closer to the fly, but not always in the same position [33, 34, 35, 36].

[No flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 5 February 2018

A variantA variant of the above design, with a single appearance recorded online, has had the text in very dark grey, almost black [37].

[No flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 6 February 2018

The blue Union Jack has otherwise been sold online with the sport (mainly soccer) fans as targeted buyers, was also offered to the opponents of Scottish independence some time before the referendum, suggesting that the combination of the UK design and Scottish colours would make a good way for them to express their attitude. The online shops often offered the flag in dark blue of the UK national flag [38], but the only recorded example of its use [39, 40] showed lighter shade of blue, as in the flag of Scotland. The flag user was claimed by the sources [39, 40] to be a participant of the pro-independence rally seen further behind, but his stance, as well as the fact that he did not make part of the crowd, suggested the opposite and so did his flag, whose design was not the one to be likely used by the independence supporters.
Tomislav Todorovic, 6 February 2018


Sources:
[1] Yes Scotland at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_Scotland
[2] Photo of "Yes" flag from Aberdeen on 2014-04-12: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-aberdeen-scotland-uk-12th-apr-2014-snp-spring-conference-at-the-exhibition-68478228.html
[3] Photo of "Yes" flag from Aberdeen on 2014-04-12: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-aberdeen-scotland-uk-12th-apr-2014-claire-thain-from-tain-wearing-68477861.html
[4] Photo of "Yes" flag from Aberdeen on 2014-04-12: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-aberdeen-scotland-uk-12th-apr-2014-car-flags-at-the-snp-spring-conference-68478230.html
[5] Photo of "Yes" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-17: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-glasgow-scotland-uk-17th-sept-2014-hundreds-of-people-attend-a-yes-73523834.html/a>
[6] Photo of "Yes" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-17:
http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-glasgow-scotland-uk-17th-sept-2014-hundreds-of-people-attend-a-yes-73523852.html
[7] Campaign "10,000 flags for Yes" presentation: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/10-000-flags-for-yes--11#/
[8] Newsweek magazine website: http://www.newsweek.com/scotland-scottish-referendum-eu-referendum-brexit-473956
[9] Slate.com website: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/09/scotland_s_referendum_to_leave_the_united_kingdom_scots_are_voting_yes_for.html
[10] Daily Mail Online: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2756283/Scottish-independence-referendum-House-prices-fall-30-000.html
[11] Daily Mail Online: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2760690/Scottish-voters-queue-free-YES-tattoos-Saltire-flags-inked-bodies-make-2-donation-Yes-campaign.html
[12] Belfast Telegraph Digital: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/scotland-independence-vote/scottish-independence-yes-vote-supporters-attack-bbc-over-prounion-bias-30586919.html
[13] KaleidoScot website: http://www.kaleidoscot.com/kaleidoscot-poll-majority-of-lgbti-scots-back-independence-2014-1153
[14] GlasgowLive website: https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/scottish-independence-referendum-appeal-parties-11900881
[15] The Times of Israel website https://www.timesofisrael.com/ahead-of-historic-vote-many-scottish-jews-wary-of-independence
[16] HuffPost website - UK edition: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/09/11/conspiracy-theories-rife-in-scottish-referendum-debate_n_5805378.html (image: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/2049996/images/o-SCOTLAND-INDEPENDENCE-RALLY-facebook.jpg>)
[17] NBC News website: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/scotland-independence-vote/meet-americans-campaigning-scotlands-independence-n147296 (image: http://media1.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2014_27/545746/140704-scotland-americans-main_b34c13ef9db59188d8526faf15d29ba5.nbcnews-fp-1240-520.jpg)
[18] New African Magazine website: http://newafricanmagazine.com/britainafrica-scottish-lessons/
[19] Photo of "Yes" flag from Edinburgh on 2013-09-21: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-a-scottish-saltire-flag-with-the-word-yes-is-waved-by-crowds-listening-67574299.html
[20] 20minutes.fr website: http://www.20minutes.fr/sport/1444647-20140917-referendum-ecosse-glasgow-rangers-hamilton-debat-investit-clubs-foot
[21] Scottish Review of Books website: https://www.scottishreviewofbooks.org/2016/11/making-scotland-great-again/
[22] Centrethought website: https://centrethought.com/2017/03/27/scottish-national-party-has-finally-played-their-hand/
[23] Slate.com website: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/09/scotland_s_referendum_to_leave_the_united_kingdom_scots_are_voting_yes_for.html
[24] Photo of "Yes" flag from Glasgow, on 2014-09-13: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-glasgow-scotland-uk-13th-september-2014-a-yes-supporter-campaigning-73421246.html
[25] ZeeNews website: http://zeenews.india.com/sports/football/among-football-fans-scotland-referendum-cuts-across-divide_1471453.html
[26] Reuters website: http://live.reuters.com/Event/Scottish_referendum?Page=2 (image: http://images.scribblelive.com/2014/9/18/a322ceaa-8d61-43e0-ac89-5e21e71a78cc_800.jpg)
[27] Photo of "Yes" flag from Edinburgh on 2014-09-11: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/edinburgh-scotland-september-11-2014-elderly-216678541?src=ArohRMSFD9tBJAMReD6nlw-1-46
[28] Better Together at Wikipedia: Better Together (campaign)
[29] Photo of "No" flag from Balloch, West Dunbartonshire on 2014-09-07: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-balloch-west-dunbartonshire-scotland-7th-sep-2014-scottish-referendum-73262534.html
[30] International Business Times website: http://www.ibtimes.com/scotland-says-no-independence-1691594
[31] The Daily Signal website: http://dailysignal.com/2014/09/16/5-reasons-americans-should-be-nervous-about-scottish-independence/
[32] The Daily Signal website: http://dailysignal.com/2014/09/18/heres-streets-scotland-look-like-right-now/
[33] European CEO website: a href="http://www.europeanceo.com/business-and-management/how-will-scottish-independence-affect-the-average-brit/"> http://www.europeanceo.com/business-and-management/how-will-scottish-independence-affect-the-average-brit/
[34] Border Media Group website: http://www.bordermediagroup.com/2014/09/scotland-independence-referendum-results-show-campaign-won/
[35] Allison Anne Munro blog - entry on 2014-09-19: https://allisonannemunro.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/self-described-loyalists-george-square-glasgow/ (photo: https://allisonannemunro.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/dscf6878.jpg)
[36] Trouw.nl website: a href="https://www.trouw.nl/home/democratisch-hoogland-het-schotse-referendum~a3fab3e6/ https://www.trouw.nl/home/democratisch-hoogland-het-schotse-referendum~a3fab3e6/
[37] CommonSpace website: https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/2547/british-nationalist-found-guilty-independence-referendum-violence-threats
[38] Blue Union Jack offered at Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.co.uk/SCOTLAND-BETTER-TOGETHER-SUPPORTERS-Polyester/dp/B00N8RFQXS
[39] Document Scotland website: http://www.documentscotland.com/portfolio/scotland-on-the-march/ (photo: http://www.documentscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/181526130JS013_Alex_Salmond.jpg)
[40] Photo of Blue Union Jack from Edinburgh, on 2013-09-21: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/event/alex-salmond-speaks-at-scottish-independence-march-and-rally-181526130#proindependence-for-scotland-supporter-wearing-a-union-jack-flag-in-picture-id181414633
[41] The Herald newspaper website: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13177009.Duke_of_Wellington_nails_his_Yes_colours_to_the_referendum_mast/
[42] Daily Record newspaper website: https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/incoming/gallery/gallery-yes-scotland-campaign-pictures-4164031 (photo: https://i2-prod.dailyrecord.co.uk/incoming/article4163870.ece/ALTERNATES/s1227b/Yes-Campaign-Picture-Gallery.jpg
[43] Deadline News website: https://deadlinenews.photoshelter.com/gallery/YES-cone/G0000GUIu.TZ7QQY/C0000P1YEPKnyws8
[44] Photo of "Yes" flag from Edinburgh on 2013-09-21: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/pro-independence-for-scotland-supporters-with-scottish-news-photo/181458203
[45] Photo of "Yes" flag from Edinburgh on 2013-09-21: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/pro-independence-for-scotland-supporters-with-scottish-news-photo/181458204
[46] Photo of "No" flag from Balloch, West Dunbartonshire on 2014-09-07: https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-balloch-west-dunbartonshire-scotland-7th-sep-2014-scottish-referendum-73262565.html
[47] Photo of "No" flag from Balloch, West Dunbartonshire on 2014-09-07: https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-balloch-west-dunbartonshire-scotland-7th-sep-2014-scottish-referendum-73262551.html
[48] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-06-09: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/alistair-darling-the-leader-of-the-pro-union-better-news-photo/450329538
[49] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-04: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/no-supporters-listen-to-jim-murphy-shadow-secretary-of-news-photo/454613204
[50] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-04: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/no-supporters-listen-to-jim-murphy-shadow-secretary-of-news-photo/454613236
[51] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-04: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/pro-union-supporter-holding-better-together-no-thanks-flag-news-photo/454617234
[52] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-04: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/no-supporters-listen-to-jim-murphy-shadow-secretary-of-news-photo/454613248
[53] Photo of "No" flag from Edinburgh on 2014-09-08: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/better-together-leader-alistair-darling-campaigns-in-news-photo/454942378
[54] Photo of "No" flag from Kilmarnock on 2014-09-15: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/yes-and-no-supporters-exchange-words-during-as-alistair-news-photo/455480926
[55] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-17: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/unionist-protesters-arrive-in-george-square-at-yes-rally-as-news-photo/455607254
[56] Photo of "No" flags from Glasgow on 2014-06-09: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/pro-union-better-together-newly-unveiled-no-thanks-logo-at-news-photo/450329548
[57] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-04: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/jim-murphy-mp-former-secretary-of-state-for-scotland-speaks-news-photo/454616936
[58] Photo of "No" flag from Glasgow on 2014-09-06: https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/news-photo/better-together-leader-alistair-darling-launches-the-news-photo/853588298

Tomislav Todorovic
, 2-6 February 2018, 28 April 2018, 19 November 2019, 30 December 2019


2019 Yes flag

A new “Yes” flag in Scotland.
The blue flag with a big “Yes” inscription in the centre was the flag of Yes Scotland at the 2014 referendum and is still seen at demonstrations in favour of independence. There is now a new “Yes” flag of which I have seen a few examples. Yes Scotland dissolved itself after the referendum, and this one seems to be sponsored by the S.N.P. It is a white flag, with “Yes” in plain capital letters, each letter being formed of blocks of different colours: red, blue, green and orange. I suppose this may be trying to represent political diversity.
Kenneth Fraser, 2 November 2019