THERE are wrinkles and contradictions in my support for Scottish independence. Some stuff which seems to drive other nationalists round the twist leaves me curiously hinged. Occasionally, I see my fellow independence enthusiasts working themselves into a lather over some perceived slight by the fell forces of Unionism while I remain unmoved.

Something that’s lately become guaranteed to engender apoplexy is the practice known as “Union Jackery”. This habit – fashionable among some retailers – seems to have its roots in the early days of the Brexit referendum. Previously blameless comestibles and household products now come complete with a Union Flag on the packaging. Polite requests as to the location of the non-Union-Jack-branded goods are met with puzzlement.

I once tried this with an Asda supervisor. As our exchange proceeded it became clear – judging by the look on his face – that he felt I’d become detached from my carer. While trying to maintain a professional and courteous manner, he kept shooting increasingly anxious glances over my shoulder to see if there was a social work-type of person who’d lost his charge.

“Do you have a Saltire section in your cooked meats department?”

“I’m not sure I’m catching your drift, sir.”

“Well, see those barbecued organic chicken breasts with the Union Jack on the packet ..?

“Indeed, sir. We have them on special offer.”

“I noticed that; but I just wondered if they came in Saltires too.”

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To be fair to the chap, he maintained admirably poised throughout this exchange which occurred at a point during the Covid pandemic when I was beginning to get a bit cabin-feverish and deriving pleasure from infantile pursuits.

The truth is: I don’t really give a friar tuck about Union Jacks on food packaging. Even the recent juvenile practice favoured by UK Cabinet ministers of having a big Union Jack in their front rooms only mildly gets on my tits.

What’s more, I fully understand the purpose of this. The Union Jack is probably the most recognised national flag in the world (though lacking the stark glamour of the old Soviet Union ensign). When you’re trying to leverage every possible advantage in the competition for sales it makes sense to exploit the recent upsurge in Brexit-driven national sentiment.

Certainly, you might consider that retail managers in the Scottish outlets of major supermarkets might take a different view of this. Yet, if there had been a noticeable reduction in sales of Union Jack-branded products on Scottish shelves, presumably they’d have been withdrawn some time ago.

Like it or not, a lot of people in Scotland remain impervious to this low-level retail propaganda. Many others still attach great value to the red, white and blue and feel it conveys values they still hold to be important: permanence; loyalty; security. Those of us seeking a way out of the United Kingdom would be advised to accept this and to appreciate it. For, these are the people who hold the key to winning the next independence referendum.

It’s not that they’re necessarily beholden to the Union but some of them tend to get a bit defensive when they see supporters of independence becoming stressed at this. It makes them edgy. It’s only a flag, after all … and a small one at that. Aren’t there more important things to be worried about?

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Don’t we need to chill out a bit more about harmless displays of Unionist imagery? We’re only looking for their vote; not seeking to give them an emotion transfusion.

Does this make me a bad nationalist? Because, while I’m on the subject, here a few of my other constitutional peccadilloes. I like the Queen. I might hate her family’s entitlement and ownership of vast acres of Scotland and the UK, but I just like her. Don’t ask me to explain it, it’s just always been there.

I like the English football team. This is rooted in childhood memories of buying English football magazines and watching English football highlights. I adored Kevin Keegan and Mick Channon and Malcolm McDonald. And I always want the English cricket team to do well.

I’m not indulging in that tedious practice of being disdainful of natural tribal passions in sport. I just like English sport. And I like a lot of English Tories, and a few Scottish ones. They’re brilliant company and are rarely slow to buy drink. I kind of like Jacob Rees-Mogg. I mean, I know I shouldn’t really. I just love his chilly insouciance. He is what he is. In fact, I need to admit that if Scotland doesn’t gain its independence I won’t have any trouble sleeping. I’ll get over it. It’s not as if we’re trying to de-couple from Ceausescu-era Romania. It’s jolly old England. We’re not under anyone’s jackboots.

I’d probably struggle to give you a compelling economic case for Scottish independence. I’m not even sure there is one. It’s risky. As an Irish government adviser once memorably said when asked how it felt to be living in an independent country, “Independence is great; it’s just the first 80-odd years that are a bit of a cu*t.”

I’m not even a major standard-bearer for Europe. I have a Kenny Dalglish approach to the EU: mibbes aye, mibbes naw. Not that this will happen any time soon after independence anyway without our own currency and bank. Or lacking any viable border arrangement. Areas which the SNP haven’t yet deemed worthy of any serious work.

Independence is merely my preference and a big part of that is the sheer, bloody hell of it.

Independence will bring uncertainty and a bit of chaos and mayhem. But from chaos and mayhem you can knock down ancient privileges and shrines and build something better. You can get rid of all the fakes and performance artists before the dust clears.

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Without having mastered the detail of future economic projections and our relationship with Europe, I just find the concept of not wanting to run your own affairs absurd.

I can’t say I’m even proud to be Scottish. How can you be proud of arriving on a piece of land and acquiring its language and customs purely by random circumstance?

There are some things I like about Scotland and others I’m less enthusiastic about. We’re no better and no worse than many other countries. But it’s absurd to leave so many decisions affecting our future in the hands of a polity that lately seems to have chosen its own independent path anyway.

I’m a six-out-of-10 Scottish nationalist. I freely admit it. But does that make me a bad one?