We must reclaim the Union Flag from the far-right
Despite the negative connotations it has developed over the years – colonialism being just one reason – we should still be able to feel proud when we see the Union Flag hoisted high at big sporting or political events. It is a flag that has remained largely unchanged since the 17th Century, and is iconic of Britain as a whole. People from all over the world instantly recognise its bright colours and what it stands for. British citizens have fought in order to protect the British flag, and for many it has meant so much that they have been prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Why then, do I now start to cringe whenever I see our flag raised in public? It is because the far-right have hijacked the flag in order to make political gains. According to political movements like UKIP, Britain First, the BNP and the EDL, if you don’t wave the flag at every given moment, you cannot truly be a patriot. Their doctrine dictates that in order to fully support a nation one must display their flag. I am proud of our flag, but it is dangerous if it is overused, especially as a divisive political weapon. I think we can all bring to mind images from Nazi Germany and the consequences of far-right nationalism.
These groups have the same attitude if you do not support the monarchy. The far-right social media warriors will usually have a British (or English) flag as their profile picture to show how much they ‘care’ about our nation as they simultaneously protest against Muslims, Asian communities and Eastern Europeans. Such multiculturalism, in my opinion, makes Britain a truly great nation. That people want to live and work under a totally new government/flag, and adopt our values is something to be truly proud of as a nation. But unfortunately, a minority of people do not see this.
It was once possible to fly a British flag with pride during sporting occasions. However, now that it is instantly recognisable as a right-wing symbol I feel uncomfortable displaying it. Sadly, if I see a British flag flying high I no longer think of the person displaying it as a proud patriot. I see them as a far-right extremist. Groups like Britain First, especially, display the flag at every political rally and protest, which has meant that a large proportion of ordinary citizens, like me, no longer wish to be associated with it.
The British people need to reclaim our flag for what it truly represents – our multiculturalism. Over the years it has changed to represent the union of four culturally different nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Why can this not be true of the present day, as we allow citizens of other nations into our great nation with open arms? Since when has letting refugees of war been a thing to be disgusted by? We, the many, need to begin to be proud of seeing our flag.
Yes, there have been drastic mistakes made with our colonial actions, committed on behalf of the British Flag. But history is history, and belongs in the past. The future is what is important. I want future generations to be, once again, proud of the Union Flag. Display it high, display it boldly, but most of all display it proudly. Take the flag away from the far-right and they won’t have many political weapons left, because they certainly do not have any weapons of policy to shout loud about.