Public backing for Bute sailor’s flag petition

George McKenzie wants to see legal recognition given to the Scottish Red Ensign.
George McKenzie wants to see legal recognition given to the Scottish Red Ensign.

A petition by a keen Bute sailor who wants to see royal assent given to the flying of the Scottish Red Ensign has attracted almost 50 public comments - all but one of them positive - on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

Rothesay resident George McKenzie, a former lieutenant commander in the Royal Naval Reserve, wants the Scottish Government to seek a warrant from the UK government to reintroduce the flag as an ‘informal or voluntary ensign’ for Scottish merchant vessels.

At present the flying of the flag - similar to the UK Red Ensign, but with the Saltire in place of the Union flag portion - is technically illegal, though that hasn’t stopped George proudly flying it from the stern of his yacht, Queen B.

Almost all the 49 public comments made as this article was written were positive; among them David Nairn from Freedom Sailing, who is a regular visitor to Rothesay Harbour on board his yacht Saorsa and who said: “I do not believe this is disrespectful to sailors who have previously sailed under the British ensign. “This change is a necessary first step in the voyage to change the perception that sailing is an elitist pastime or occupation.”

Another member of the public, former Merchant Navy sailor Bill Watkins, commented that he “would be proud to sail under the Red McDuster”.

The only negative comment so far has come from another keen sailor resident on Bute, John Rushworth, who said: “I think this will only serve to confuse.”

To view the comments made so far, and add your own if you wish to do so, click here. The closing date for public comments online is July 8, though the looming summer recess means Holyrood’s public petitions committee is unlikely to consider the subject until September at the earliest.