Why are the Brits ashamed of their flag?

As we proudly waved the Aussie flag on Australia Day, I had a discussion with a friend of mine as to why the British don’t seem to get their flag out very often. My friend said that she felt it was because if she waved the British flag about she felt as though she was being a nationalist, a racist and that it was almost a statement to say that she voted for the British National Party.

My friend said that at Glastonbury last year, people who had the British flag flying proudly outside their tents were labelled racist pigs and abused. She said that she was a bit embarrassed to wave the flag and that the negative connotations probably stem from the end of World War II.

At the end of the Second World War, there were labour shortages in Britain and the government went searching for immigrants. Many people who fought for England were allowed to move to the UK and this was the beginnings of mass immigration to the country and the arrival of different cultures.

Not all British citizens were happy to see other nationalities on their shores and so they hung up the British flag in their windows as a way of saying ‘go back to where you came from, you’re not wanted here’. Then in the 1980s, skinheads terrorised England with their racism and white nationalist views. Their symbol was also the British flag, as well as the St George’s Cross flag.

Racism is still prominent in England today and the British National Party (BNP) is proof of this. Up until a few months ago it was forbidden for a black person to become a member of the party. The BNP had to change this rule after they were challenged by other parties who said that the regulation was illegal.

The British Department for Culture, Media and Sport have acknowledged the issues with the flag and have even written reports on the topic stating that:

“The Union Flag is one of the most recognisable symbols of the UK. But while in other countries, such as France and the United States, the national flag is regarded as a source of pride, in recent years the Union Flag has all too often become the preserve of political extremists, a symbol of discord rather than harmony. It is critical that this symbol is not hijacked by those who seek to work against the fundamental British values of tolerance and mutual respect.”

I think it’s sad that the Brits can’t wave their flags high and feel a sense of patriotism. In Australia my neighbour has the flag up outside on a post and as we all know, on Australia Day we’re all covered in the symbol. Although some feel it is time to change our flag (myself included) at least we are not ashamed to hold up the current one.

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5 Responses to “Why are the Brits ashamed of their flag?”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    I wasn’t even aware there were racist connotations associated with waving the British flag. Surely if everyone always uses the whole ‘it stems back to so and so time in history’ then nearly every aspect of one’s country has some kind of racist meaning? It’s silly. Move with the times.
    As you know I’m very proud of being British but also love how cosmopolitan our nation is…it’s the modern Britiain and something that my generation were just brought up with so it’s totally normal to me. It’s disgusting how the 80’s skinheads for racism and nationalism used the British Flag and thus tainting it.
    Personally, I don’t wave a British Flag outside my house etc because I have just simply never felt the need to broadcast my pride for my Country so openly much like you see in America. It just feels a bit preachy to me and I think alot of Brits would agree. As a Country we are quite reserved and modest when it comes to such matters and I like it that way. We know how wonderful Britain is/can be without having to over compensate with the aid of umpteen flags attached to all our personal possesions!

    Really interesting article Carm 🙂

    • carmentheaussie Says:

      Yes, I do think it may be a cultural thing. Australians are a patriotic bunch and we’re proud of raising our flag. Although we probably don’t wave it as much as Americans. They are always displaying their flag, but you’re right it may be a cultural thing. The British are not the type to big note themselves.

  2. sophie knowles Says:

    Yup it’s too sad that Brits cannot feel free to express their patriotism in such a simple axiomatic way. To be frank I think the UK has so many underlying issues with race and the flag is symptomatic. My 70-year-old Nan has a speech by Winston Churchill on her wall and my German father called her racist for this! She loves her country and is a true royalist, what’s wrong with this? I just hope the British identity hasn’t been lost completely

    • carmentheaussie Says:

      I think sometimes people can be so politically correct and take things a little far. For example, I don’t see Winston Churchill as racist but some other people might. It is sad that some Brits feel they can’t wave their flag around. Hopefully it’ll change in the future as the British become more open-minded about things.

  3. Def Leppard Music » Blog Archive » Def Leppard neclaces? Says:

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