Why I don't like Alex Salmond's tie

Dear First Minister,

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Dear First Minister,

I am really sorry to bring this up but the truth is something about your dress sense has been bugging me for a while.

It's your tie: you know, the one you wear all the time; the one that is laced with little saltires, just in case we didn't realise you were Scottish.

I really don't like it. You know what? I think it's not quite right and I think you should ditch it.

I appreciate that you have more important things to think about, Mr Salmond, but please bear with me and I shall explain why.

You see, there is a time and a place for flags. Take Wimbledon.Remember when you pulled the St Andrew's Cross from Mrs Salmond's handbag and waved it when Andy Murray won? That irked some folk. Not me. People wave flags at sporting events all the time.

You wore your saltire tie that day too; it was on the telly right behind that David Cameron fella. Didn't bother me much then.

In fact, your tie reminded me of those pics you see of uncomfortable royals and dignitaries at World Cup matches with their football scarves over their suits and posh frocks.

But, like I say, there are times and there are places for saltire ties. This weekend, in the first horrible dawn after the Clutha tragedy, you put words to what so many Scots were feeling. I thought you sounded statesman-like. But your tie with its jolly wee saltires?

I get that it was St Andrew's Day, First Minister, but you put the wrong thing round your neck that morning.

Here is the thing: you are overcompensating. I know Scotland isn't an independent country, not yet anyway. I know you feel the need to accentuate the Scottish in everything. I know you sense a strong duty to defend our nation and her interests. But there is a danger in this: I think the tie can make you look, well, just a bit chippy.

You may remember you wore it on the day you signed the historic Edinburgh Agreement, the deal that paved the way for next year's indyref.

The Prime Minister was there too. He was sporting a natty little blue number round his neck. Imagine if he had turned up with a Union flag red, white and blue tie? Would that be cool? Nah.

You've now met many world leaders. Were any wearing flags or scarves of their flags? Do the premiers of our self-confident Nordic neighbours routinely emblazon themselves with national symbols?

So here's my pitch to you, First Minister. Keep your saltire tie for big games at Hampden. You want Scotland to be a normal, grown-up, confident, progressive country. You may just convince the rest of us to vote for your vision. What will happen then? We'll never again have a leader who needs to wear his or her nationality on their chest.

Local government

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