Bute sailor’s flag campaign goes to Holyrood

George McKenzie's yacht Queen B flying the Scottish Ensign off Bogany Point.
George McKenzie's yacht Queen B flying the Scottish Ensign off Bogany Point.

A petition by a keen Bute sailor seeking the wider promotion of the ‘Scottish Ensign’ has been submitted to the Scottish Parliament.

George McKenzie, who spent 14 years in the Royal Naval Reserve, during which he reached the rank of lieutenant commander, wants the Scottish Government to take the steps required to allow the flag - which is the same as the famous Red Ensign, but with the Union flag in the corner replaced by the saltire - to be flown more widely.

We first reported on George’s campaign in January 2012, when he wrote to officials in both the Scottish and UK governments seeking official recognition for the use of the flag.

The Merchant Shipping Act 1995 states that although the Red Ensign is the only flag which can be flown by British merchant vessels, there is provision for the Queen or a Secretary of State to approve “any colours consisting of the Red Ensign defaced or modified”.

And there is a precedent for Mr McKenzie’s suggestion: in 2010, the States of Jersey were given permission for a ‘voluntary or informal’ ensign of their own, which now features a Plantagenet crown.

The petition has the backing of Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell, who wrote in The National newspaper on Tuesday: “I hope to have the chance to speak when it comes before the petitions committee and this summer I will be watching out – in Argyll and elsewhere – for a few more Scottish Ensigns as people realise they can show their pride in where they come from on the water as well as on the land.”