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FAILING TO FLY THE FLAG TAKES TOLERANCE A STEP TOO FAR

PUBLISHED: 16:56 05 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

ON the subject of flying the Union Flag, it amused me that the views of Haringey Council leader George Meehan were being aired on the Twelfth of July. Courtesy of  some Orangemen on an annual march, it s the one day of the year when the red, white and bl

ON the subject of flying the Union Flag, it amused me that the views of Haringey Council leader George Meehan were being aired on the Twelfth of July.

Courtesy of some Orangemen on an annual march, it's the one day of the year when the red, white and blue is guaranteed to be on view in his native Donegal, as opposed to the green, white and gold of the Irish tricolour which appears to fly from every lamp post.

So when asked how Haringey would respond to Gordon Brown's call for the Union Flag to be raised in a show of national unity, it's not surprising that Mr Meehan made use of language more suited to the sensitivities of a fractured community: ''Haringey is a diverse and cohesive community. People in the borough show respect and tolerance for each other. We will look at the government's proposals on national identity and values and will follow any guidance issued by the government on when the flag should be flown.''

In essence, this was a tortuous way of saying ''we don't want to offend anyone so we won't fly the flag unless we have to.''

Neighbouring Camden's reaction was similar, if more direct. It's not the done thing, they said, other than on exceptional occasions like times of national mourning.

So there you have it: we must wait for a monarch to die before Camden raises the standard, and even then, it will be at half mast. How depressing.

While all this harks back to the days of the Loony Left (the Union Flag was, after all, one of the first victims of political correctness) it is interesting to ponder what makes Brits so embarrassed about flying their national emblem.

Our reticence in this respect is marvelled at by such disparate types as the Yanks, the Canadians, the Aussies, the Germans, the French, the Russians, the Irish, the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Chinese and virtually everyone else on the planet.

Apart from in Northern Ireland, the British flag - unlike those of some countries previously mentioned - isn't overtly used to agitate or provoke.

It can't be bad that it signifies unity between people who once kicked seven bells out of each other. And it is one of the most instantly recognisable ensigns in the world, a design masterpiece so versatile that it looks as good on the roof of a Mini Cooper as it does wrapped around the hips of a Spice Girl.

If it's good enough for Geri Halliwell ...

Geoff Martin, Editor, Ham&High Series.

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