Saturday, 9 June 2012

Afraid of the Flag

If there’s one thing that the World Cup, the Royal Wedding and the Jubilee had in common, it was the flags. The Union Flag (Doctor Who told me it was only the Union Jack when flown at sea... or was it the other way round?), or rather, multiple Union Flags, were strung up all around the country, turning every shopping centre, high street and half of our houses into red, white and blue masterpieces.

Oh it was glorious.

Oh wait. I can’t say that. People might think I’m a nationalist!

See, that is the issue. We can’t enjoy the flag anymore and, by extension, we can’t enjoy our own country. You love Britain? Wait there, I’ll go get my UKIP leaflets. Liking us all flying the flag? You ever heard of the BNP? You should join...

This issue has been playing on me for a while, but it became evident during the Jubilee. Put simply, nationalist parties like the BNP make more centre-orientated (read: most people) or left-orientated (read: filthy liberals like myself) scared of loving their own country, their own flag. They reduce patriotism by making us ashamed of being patriotic.

There’s two interlinked reasons I can think of.

1) BNP and UKIP are often viewed as the worst part of our country. Racist, isolationist, homophobic, violent, etc. You can argue the toss all day whether the generally held perception of them is true or not (I tend to err on it being so, if only amongst the leaders) but it is generally a common perception. At least in my experience. These nationalist parties are viewed as a stain on Britain. Which leads me to point two.

2). People don’t want to be associated with that stain. BNP has the “monopoly” on patriotism, because no one else wants to be patriotic in case they are associated with the BNP.

As always, I’d like to add my own little disclaimer here. I say no-one because I’m basing this off personal experience. I’m keen to point out that that experience is pretty limited, and within a small demographic (South England, educated, middle class), and may not be representative. If it suits you, just replace every reference to other people with "I". 

But if you want to take away something, it’s that I think that nationalist parties hurt their own cause, by making patriotism abhorrent. If they weren’t there, the central-orientated and leftist people of this country would be more willing to be patriotic.

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