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St George's Cross

Matt Morris | 09:49 UK time, Thursday, 6 July 2006

Couldn't you tell it was going to happen...?

Radio Five Live logoThe lack of penetration in spite of Wayne Rooney's bustling. The way the ball bounced off Peter Crouch, no matter how gently it was played up to him. Frank Lampard's unconvincing air of assurance as he walked up to take the first penalty. A nation was deeply upset by the success of the Portuguese; though in the Farmers' Arms in Llangennech on Saturday night, there was little sympathy for England fans among the assembled Welshmen (and they were all men, except for the woman behind the bar).

So now St George's cross is disappearing from cars, white vans and people carriers. But we on Five Live are having to give some thought to what the cross represents - or, more accurately, to whether it can be taken to represent any political party. It came about because of the contribution of a guest on Victoria Derbyshire's programme on 5 May...

Victoria was discussing the local election results, and the heavy losses suffered by Labour. One of the contributors was Scarlett Maguire, a former media adviser to the Labour Party. Part of the discussion covered the BNP's performance in Barking. Scarlett mentioned that she'd been in Barking the previous week, and had been "shocked" by the level of support she had found for the BNP. And, in an aside, she had mentioned that she had seen a lot of St George's flags during her visit which, she reckoned, was code in Barking for supporting the BNP.

And that remark of Scarlett's caused quite a fuss. We were taken to task by the English Democrats Party for allowing a "patently absurd" opinion to go unchallenged. Of course the cross of St George was nothing to do with the BNP. Maybe not, but it is true that the BNP is determined to associate itself with St George's cross. This is a quotation from an article on the BNP website.

"Although a few tabloid newspapers have lately and cynically jumped on the bandwagon, it has been the BNP over the past four years that has been the driving force to promote the consciousness of the red and white in England... The St. George flag has featured prominently at all national and local events and the party has publicly supported the campaign to have St. George’s Day recognised as a national holiday in England."

It's interesting that the title of the article - "St. George is for life" - suggests that if you fly St George's Cross, you shouldn't do it only during football tournaments.

We've had a fairly detailed exchange with the English Democrats Party on this matter. We've argued that this remark was only Scarlett's opinion; that she expressed it only about the behaviour of some people in Barking; that it was an aside, and that to have pursued it would have side-tracked the discussion; and that since the BNP are open about their attempts to associate themselves with the English flag, it was not an absurd or obviously untruthful thing for her to say.

In response, the English Democrats reckon we're propagating a nightmarish fantasy by condoning a claim that the flag has anything to do with BNP support. Of course, if you go to the English Democrats' website, you'll see they are keen on the St George's Cross, too.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 04:04 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • bob wrote:

At least the Scots put the flag in the bin, they wouldn't do that in Leigh Lancs.

  • 2.
  • At 04:55 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • hildebrand wrote:

As to the interesting question on the fate of all those St George's cross flags, how about dishing them out in eg Beeston (see S Times article) or Spitalfields, along with the collected works of Shakespeare, or T.S Eliot, by way of a little encouragement towards overcoming cultural apartheid now clearly deeply rooted?

  • 3.
  • At 07:15 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • Stephen Glynn wrote:

I'm not sure why hildebrand thinks distributing the works of T.S. Eliot would help overcome 'cultural aparheid'; his view -- expressed in his Page-Barbour lecture After Strange Gods at the University of Virginia in May 1933 -- that “The population should be homogeneous; where two or more cultures exist in the same place they are likely either to be fiercely self-conscious or both to become adulterate. What is still more important is unity of religious background; and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable” might prove counter-productive.

  • 4.
  • At 07:53 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • Matt wrote:

No matter what political party you choose to support. The St. George's Cross is the national flag of England. Why make such a fuss about it?

If French rightwingers try to claim the french national flag as their own political symbol, do the people of France decide to disown their national flag? No, and why should they? In fact to do so would only lend support to its political associations. COME OFF IT! It's time people grew up and accepted that St. George's Cross is plainly and simply the national flag of England. Get over it PLEASE!!!

  • 5.
  • At 07:59 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • Matt wrote:

No matter what political party you choose to support. The St. George's Cross is the national flag of England. Why make such a fuss about it?

If French rightwingers try to claim the french national flag as their own political symbol, do the people of France decide to disown their national flag? No, and why should they? In fact to do so would only lend support to its political associations. COME OFF IT! It's time people grew up and accepted that St. George's Cross is plainly and simply the national flag of England. Get over it PLEASE!!!

  • 6.
  • At 05:06 AM on 07 Jul 2006,
  • Simon Morris wrote:

It's a sad campaign by the BNP, after many English had adopted the St Georges Cross because the right wing had highjacked the Union Flag, now the right wing want to take ownership of the St Georges Cross

  • 7.
  • At 07:04 AM on 07 Jul 2006,
  • Mick wrote:

What you say about the French flag Matt is actually what has happened to the Union Jack in Britain. Rightly or wrongly, it's come to be associated with racist groups and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. Even the England football fans have abandoned it in favour of the St George flag, a decision for which, I suppose, they should be commended. I don't think the same thing will happen with that flag though because it represents a real historic place which everyone can relate to, rather than the Union Jack which represents an artificial entity which many, including the English, have always found difficult to relate to.

  • 8.
  • At 08:34 AM on 07 Jul 2006,
  • Charles Berwick wrote:

More anti-English drivel from the BBC. I wonder if they have a department especially for Anglophobic hate-mongering?

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