Monday, 24 November 2014
Flags and White Vans
Like it or not it is a fact that for many our two national flags have become symbols of some of the less attractive features of our society. The Union Jack tends to be associated with the British National Party (BNP) and other extremists on the xenophobic far-right, and the St George's flag with football hooligans.
Whereas the French and US flags have always been proud symbols of their countries, historically the British, at home at any rate, have not been great flag wavers. Even during the war I can't remember much flag flying. I think the Union Jack was supposed to be flown on public buildings on the King's birthday: maybe this was abandoned for fear of identifying useful targets for enemy aircraft. And I can recall the flag being flown at my primary school only on one Empire Day (24th May: I know that because it was my Auntie Ada's birthday, a fact of which she was very proud), sometime in the late 1940s. And the St George's flag was rarely flown at all until the churches started to display it at Easter and on "red letter" Saints' Days.
And unfairly or not, it is a fact that drivers of white vans are often regarded as doing so with less consideration for the welfare of other users than the Highway Code might demand, and may well indulge in businesses in the "informal|" economy in which the payment of taxes is minimised, though perhaps with not quite the ruthless efficiency of some of the major international corporations.
So I have some sympathy for Emily Thornberry and her tweet from the Rochester and Strood by-election campaign, and feel the Ed Miliband has grossly over-reacted in forcing her to resign as Shadow Attorney General. Politics will never gain the respect it deserves if political leaders jump through every hoop held up for them by the tabloids.
Poor Ed Miliband. he and his party are being subjected to the same ridicule as scuppers Labour and Neil Kinnock in 1992. This is not grown up politics: we should be able to do better.
Of course, it may well be that the owner of the house with two St George's flags draped on its walls and a white van parked outside is an enthusiastic member of the Church of England whose business is all set to grow into the Marks and Spencer's of the 2060s.