Should we fly the flag?

  Forum Editor 18:02 09 Nov 2007

I've been in New York for a couple of days, and during one of my meetings an American client asked me something that set me thinking. We were talking about our two home cities, London and New York, and she said "I love London because there's such an air of history about the place, but why don't you fly your Union Jack?"

I hadn't thought about it before, but I realised she was right. In New York (and other American cities come to that) you see the stars and stripes everywhere,on government buildings, office blocks, and even on the front of department stores; they are immensely proud of their flag. It dawned on me that I couldn't remember the last time I noticed the Union Jack flying from a public building, let alone hanging on the front of a department store.

Why don't we fly the Union Jack? It's a lovely flag - at least I think so - and should surely be a symbol of a common purpose as far as UK citizens are concerned, regardless of their ethnic origins. There's not a hint of nationalism in my question, so let's not have any racially-motivated posts, it's a patriotic thing isn't it - or am I barking up the wrong tree altogether?

  crosstrainer 18:04 09 Nov 2007

Fly our flag here in Wales :)...But it seems that people get confused in England. The Union Jack or the cross of St George? Perhaps this is why it's not as common.

  DrScott 18:07 09 Nov 2007

is that national flags tend to bring out nationalistic tendencies.

However, it's very British not to fly a flag - it would probably be considered too vulgar, too American, too overt and brash, for a British person to do.

Still, the village my wife comes from seems to have a flag outside every other house.

Personally I can't help feel the more we identify with other countries, the less we'll worry about national interests and focus more on international interests. Flags, for some, can be symptom of too much introspection.

  alB 18:13 09 Nov 2007

Yes, if you're proud of your country then why not, as crosstrainer points out, you go to Wales and see the Welsh Dragon everywhere ...alB

  georgemac © 18:26 09 Nov 2007

Yes, I think we should fly the flag, the Union Jack should fly in the nations capital - the England flag should also be flown proudly there, as should the St Andrew's cross in Edinburgh etc etc.

One other thing I admire about Americans and America is the pride or appreciation they show towards those who serve in their armed forces - even if you don't agree with what they are doing this is not their choice - they are obeying their orders and serving their country.

  Quickbeam 18:31 09 Nov 2007

"But it seems that people get confused in England. The Union Jack or the cross of St George?"

No problem here, the English flag is a red cross on a white base... and has been for centuries!

The problem has always been the desire to placate the satellite nations of Great Britain that have not always shared the 'UK' ideal.

Let the English be free to celebrate their nationality as freely as the other UK nations do.

And while I'm on the soapbox... I want an 'English' national anthem. The 'God save our Queen' anthem is a dirge to an obsolete and bygone age that has no place in the 21st century, and is not suited to be sung at English national games when we play other UK nations that get to sing their own anthems!

  Forum Editor 18:44 09 Nov 2007

I'm Welsh, but I really meant to talk about the Union Jack, which should surely serve to represent the unity part of the United Kingdom shouldn't it? I'm not suggesting that Wales. England and Scotland shouldn't have (and fly) national flags, but if we're going to have this entity called the United Kingdom - and we are going to have it - let's fly its flag.

Years ago it was seen everywhere, so we shouldn't try to claim that "it's very British not to fly a flag". It's a fairly recent thing, this abandonment of the Union Jack.

As for the Welsh and their flag - I happen to know that the Wales Office (formerly the Welsh Office) in Whitehall flies both the Welsh Dragon and the Union Jack on its roof, and quite right too.

  Forum Editor 18:56 09 Nov 2007

I haven't, and wouldn't suggest for a moment that English, Welsh and Scottish flags shouldn't be flown at every opportunity - they are national flags, and are symbols of the unique qualities of their respective countries.

What I'm saying is that constitutionally we are all citizens of the United Kingdom, and the UK has its flag - the Union Jack. That flag represents our common purpose, our uniquely British identity, and it should be flown - alongside the other national flags if necessary.

Perhaps I'm in a minority, but I think that in an increasingly parochial 'me first' kind of society it might help to give us all a greater sense of unity. We had it before, and we flew the Union Jack everywhere - it was on every product 'made in Britain'. Schoolchildren waved it on national occasions, and it flew from municipal buildings. Take a look at your local town hall, if it's more than fifty years old it will almost certainly have a flagpole - what flies there now?

  Bingalau 19:01 09 Nov 2007

Only nit-picking, but should it not be called the union flag? Watch the RN people suddenly appear with their expert knowledge.
Quickbeam. I am with you on this one, our national anthem is a disgrace. It may have escaped the notice of the big-wigs at sporting events, but when the tune is played most of the spectators are singing "God Bless Our Team".

  Forum Editor 19:09 09 Nov 2007

Yes, it's the Union flag, but everyone knows it as the Union Jack.

  anskyber 19:13 09 Nov 2007

Interesting. About ten years ago I returned to Cornwall to take up my last job before eventually retiring a couple of years ago.

A colleague of mostly Irish but with large dashes of Welsh and Scottish ancestry asked me how I saw myself as a Cornish person born and raised there who had spent 27 years of my life living and working in various parts of the north of England.

Was I Cornish or English or British or even European, he asked?

After much thought I said I saw myself as Cornish then British and happy to be seen as a European. Of course in Cornwall the flag of Cornwall is to be seen everywhere. I think though we should all be similarly proud of the Union, in a way celebrating the pride of Britishness even though we may be also proud of our Cornish, Welsh, Scottish or whatever links.

So yes, I agree we should be more open about the Union Jack, it's part of all our heritage.

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