My view is that the least British thing of all to do is to fly the flag, outside of very special ceremonies and very limited occasions.
In the ‘Cool Britannia’ era, ‘progressives’ like me began to feel it was ‘safe’ — and maybe a good thing — to embrace a bit of patriotism. This was perhaps not unconnected to Blairite Labour being in power — and perhaps a cause and an effect.
The Flag took over everything — cake tins to dresses to cars to underwear.
And the nationalism and militarism which I had always suspected began to gain a little traction.
Then ‘keep calm and carry on’, the flag and harking back to the mid-20th Century and national pride as a part of Austerity came in. A justification and a consolation.
When bunting and cup-cakes were flavour of the month, someone I know who has seen engineered regime change told me to keep my eyes open. ‘They’re manipulating us — it’ll be time for war and back to Lords and Serfs, you know’. I scoffed.
But, come on, who really likes cup-cakes? The nation in hock to Big Sugar, I suspect.
And now we have the flag everywhere, we’ve reduced the true solemnity of marking the horrors of war to a sentimental poppyfest. We used to be at Sunday football matches on Remembrance Sunday. A minute of true silence, true respect. And we moved on with a tear in the eye.
I want to be a patriot. For a while, I thought it was safe and empowering to do so.
But I fear that it empowers only the worst nationalism and militarism.
I stole this idea from someone on twitter — it seems such a symbol of the UK’s journey.
What next? How can we reclaim the flag and British values it could stand for?