My issue with the Union flag
- Credit: PA
Readers respond to calls to reclaim the Union flag from nationalists.
I am, have been and will remain an admirer of Mitch Benn. However, in his article he explores why the Union Flag should be reclaimed from “the insular, the nationalistic and the xenophobic”. He then lists reasons for loving it and what it represents and here he falls into the trap, this trap being the other reason why many in the UK find it difficult to embrace the Union Flag.
By listing such things as Last Night of the Proms, Greensleeves and the village green he emphasises what can be seen as essentially English attributes, while asking us to accept these as representative of ‘the nation’ and ‘Britain’.
Reclaiming patriotism in the UK might start to be a possibility if the national flag actually reflected the nation, or rather the four nations it’s supposed to represent. Ian Dunt finds “something tremendously beautiful” in the union flag, bringing “the symbols of different nations together as one.” But it doesn’t. It consists of the flags of the patron saints of three nations: Scotland, England and Ireland. Saint Patrick is the saint of the whole of Ireland, most of which is a Republic and not in the UK at all, leaving Northern Ireland unrepresented. And where is St David of Wales?
Frances Corkey Thompson
Ian Dunt, in writing about how liberals can reclaim patriotism, supports the use of our flag by political parties. He says: “there is something tremendously beautiful in it [our flag]. It brings the symbols of different nations together as one”. He does, however, go on to admit that the patriotism stirred by the Brexit movement represented the opposite of a support for diversity. Indeed, it may well lead directly to our nations splitting asunder. The use of the flag by a political party is, generally, a cynical vote-catching gesture, and, as such, a sham.
Veneration for one’s country regardless of its political standards and morals is the worst form of empty, flag-waving patriotism.
Robert Behrman, Cookham Dean
Regarding Ian Dunt and Mitch Benn’s articles about patriotism and the flag, what they both omitted to comment upon was the absence of Welsh representation on the ‘Union’ Jack. To some of us in Wales the absence of a Welsh symbol on the flag is an afront and insult to our status as one of the four countries that make up the UK. However, with the possibility of Scotland leaving the Union, and the inevitability in my opinion of the island of Ireland becoming united sometime this century, what will we be left with? Could St David make a late appearance?
Dafydd Wyn Roberts
The Union flag cover is certainly prescient and challenging, whether we are ‘proud British Union supporters’, or ‘alternative culture hippies.’ I think you’ll manage to ire everyone, which is no bad thing.
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