Of Flags and Chavs and charters

Once more it seems Labour are in the news for thinking that flying the English flag is racist, now the article concerned is an old one but signs are the view it expresses isn’t. Though of course the candidate concerned has since claimed they no longer hold those views, but as that’s rejected when it comes to UKIP candidates and the like I see no reason to accept it from a candidate for one of the established parties. The article has prompted Mr Farage to say that “Labour hate England”. I think he’s actually wrong on that and also doesn’t go far enough. For my money I think the problem is more that many people who see themselves as liberal and progressive , especially but not exclusively amongst those on the left, hate the English – or at least have a very strong dislike for them. It’s not England that they dislike so, it’s the English and English values which are of course notoriously difficult to pin down – so I’m not going to even try. I will though observe that the idea of flying the national flag is considered fine in Scotland and Wales and pretty much everywhere else it’s just the English flag that’s the problem. When you look at the comments made about the flying of the English flag it usually become rapidly apparent that behind that objection is a dislike for the sort of people they think are the types to want to display the flag. Given that the people normally making this assumptions are usually very quick to say that we mustn’t judge other groups by the actions of a few members (“not all muslims” et al.) why the exception for the English? Even amongst the allegedly tolerant alternative cultures (of which I count myself a part) there is a dislike of the stereo typically working class English based on the actions of a very few, so much so that they want laws against them. Again this is a group that is usually quick to object when anyone stereotypes any other group, but Toffs and Chavs are fair game, and those two groups are possibly the most typically English (albeit at opposite end of the spectrum).

Now there are many people who have pondered why there is such a dislike for the English, and some of their ideas suggest to me that they need to loosen their tin foil hats – however what ever the reason there does seem to be a dislike of things traditionally English. While Great Britain as a whole has done some terrible things in the past, things that certain regions like to now claim were all the doing of the English, we’ve also achieved wonderful and brilliant things – the 800th anniversary of one we celebrate this year. These achievements we hear far less of, it’s almost as if there is a plan to destroy all pride in being English – so much so conspiracy starts to seem like the sensible option. Now before someone chimes in and says that pride in one’s nation is a bad and foolish thing, first tell me why it’s seen as acceptable for the Scottish, for example, to be proud of their identity? Also if we shouldn’t be proud for the good our nation has done in the past then why should we be ashamed and apologise for the bad? If I was a suspicious type I could quite easily start to buy into the idea that our political masters are afraid of the English, the Scots and the Welsh seem to be happy to vote for more and more state control, the English less so. Perhaps we should still believe that desire for liberty, for freedom from repression, to fairness, justice and being left the hell alone still burns deep. that though is probably just playing to out dated stereo types and poetic fiction, right? Probably just me – we can ignore all the stirring verse and prose written in testament to it over the years as mere aberration.

The thing that made me really wonder about this was something surprisingly small, I wanted to buy a poster sized copy of the Magna Carta. This being the 800th anniversary of said document you’d have thought it would be surprisingly easy, I know I did. Oddly though the Magna Carta trust doesn’t sell one for less than £1,500, the British Library doesn’t sell one at all though it will sell you a replica of the American constitution. In fact, finding a decent size proper replica of this great document to buy in England turns out to be quite a challenge, it’s easier to find place to buy posters of the American constitution. The Americans will sell you a poster of our Magna Carta, but few places in the UK and of those even fewer and actual facsimile rather than a small twee poster. This seems incredibly strange to me especially given the year, is this great pillar of our country something to be hidden? (For the record I found a decent version over at Media Store House).

It really does make one start to think that for some reason there is a concerted effort to erase the English in all but name from the world, such thoughts though surely call for a tin foil hat. As ever when it comes to matters of English pride and the flying of our flag I shall leave the last word to Show of Hands.

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