I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Alex Salmond for his Christmas card this year. It's terrific.
It has though come in for criticism from opposition parties because it has the Scottish flag on it.
I have never understood why unionist parties accuse the SNP of manipulating the saltire for party political ends. Every party uses their country's flag. Politicians in most states do so too, it's natural. In the US, they wear it on their lapel. It just so happens for Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems, that flag is the Union Jack (see pictures below).
The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that it is Scotland's flag itself that is being objected to.
The artist that did this year's Christmas card is Gerard M Burns. One of his paintings also has pride of place in the First Minister's office. The painting was actually commissioned at the time the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999 but was quickly banished till the SNP won in 2007 because the saltire on it was considered too big.
For the other parties, it seems the only useful purpose the saltire should serve is to provide the blue for the Union Jack.
In fairness to Labour though, Jim Murphy has been trying to convince his party to adopt the saltire. By trying to foist it like this on his troops though, it is as close as you can get to politicising the flag. The forced photoshoot with Iain Gray at this year's Labour conference is case in point.
It won't make any difference for Labour to be seen more comfortable with the saltire. They actually have to be able to come up with policies which are relevant to Scotland, and which will very likely have to be in the face of their counterparts in London. Are Scottish Labour capable of independent thought?