Pro-Europeans still want the UK to succeed
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Pro-Europeans thought it was wrong to leave the EU - but they still want to see the UK succeed.
I read Mitch Benn’s column with my usual interest and enjoyment and agree that the manipulation of the Union flag is counter-productive and plain wrong to so many people such as ourselves who wanted to remain in the EU. This was certainly not unpatriotic, just the exercise of pragmatic common and unifying sense.
We want our country to succeed and now we are on this path there has to be accommodation. We will never agree that it was right to leave the EU and go it alone but we will just have to hang in there and keep both flags flying.
Judith A. Daniels
Cobholm, Great Yarmouth
I agree with Mitch Benn. I have a top with a Union flag on it and wore it on a pro-EU march, and a Brexiteer came up to me and objected. If there hadn’t been two uniformed policemen nearby I might not have dared to argue with him, but as there were, I asked him if only those who wanted to leave the EU had a right to their country’s flag. If I remember rightly, he had no answer to that.
I also agree with Jeannie Bell (Letters, TNE #231) about your “Animal Readers” section. Please keep it!
Ian Dunt’s article takes a rather one-dimensional perspective of patriotism. The UK is a Union of nations but the article seems to ignore this fact.
Pride in the UK seems such a minority feeling in Scotland. In the 1980s I attended an anti-racism course run by an English university. The course was residential on the shores of Loch Lomond and attended by educators. The icebreaker was to form a line with those who felt most British at the front and least at the back.
The organisers were surprised to find that there was no one at the front of the queue, a few in the middle and the majority at the back. The Conservative UK government was, at the time, driving through an agenda rejected by the vast majority in Scotland. A similar situation pervades today.
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Most Scots had three identities. Firstly Scottish and at one time British and European equally. That has changed with British identity becoming an embarrassment. I’m not sure what patriotism is being reclaimed, but it is not mine.
Ian Dunt’s article on the Union flag comes at a time when I realise my position on this flag, and my notions of patriotism, have shifted. As a distinctive piece of symbolic graphic design, it has proved popular over time, even enjoying coolness of sorts in the 1990s. Visiting Westminster, the flag makes sense, seemly and fitting in the context of that seat of power.
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But it is out of place in Edinburgh, my home. It feels at odds with Scotland’s nationhood, and I find myself reacting to it as an imposition. Instead I feel patriotic towards the Saltire – a sentiment only increased when I see UK ministers flanked by seemingly ever-multiplying Union flags, when I’d rather see neither minister nor flag.
The idea that you can feel stirred to allegiance to both the Union flag and the Saltire, I no longer recognise.
In Ian Dunn’s case for a “pragmatic pro-immigration policy agenda” there’s the usual combination of cakeism, virtue signalling and reality denial. Unless his agenda is based on a complete absence of controls and complete free movement (an honest position) it is bound in fact to have a significant anti-immigration element to it. There will be barriers at the frontier and decisions about how many immigrants and asylum seekers to let in, how many and who to keep out and what criteria to use will have to be made.
For the liberal progressive left to ‘reclaim patriotism’ they must show more than knee-jerk negative reaction to all efforts to control immigration. They must engage with the hard choices that have to be made.
Irritated as I was by your myopic “How liberals can reclaim patriotism” and Mitch Benn’s similarly misguided piece, I left it to others to point out the errors of your ways. This was the right idea, but some important points were still missed.
You have to understand that the Union flag is not an object of affection in Wales for a number of reasons, none necessarily hostile. The simple fact is (and many English people probably never notice this if or when they cross the border) we just don’t see that flag here from one day to the next. If you look carefully, you’ll find it on government buildings, but when it comes right down to it, we’re not much given to flag-waving over here, not even Y Ddraig Goch.
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