The problem is not the flag but the left’s needless anxiety over patriotism | Sunder Katwala


As Labour debates whether to become ‘more patriotic’, it’s worth emphasising that for most Britons, including ethnic minorites, a sense of pride in their country is a givenNo politician was ever chosen to govern a major democracy without engaging with the symbols of the country they aspired to lead. Almost every leader of the Labour party has tried to do so and the British left’s most hopeful moments – “And now win the peace” in 1945 and appeals to renewal in the 1960s and 1990s – arose when its national story resonated with the challenge of those particular times. But, equally, Labour has often floundered when questions of identity upturn British politics – witness the referendums on Scotland and the EU in the past decade.

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Consider this context when judging the ongoing debate about the wisdom, or otherwise, of Labour making “use of the [union] flag” in a move to signal the party’s patriotic intent, as a leaked document advised. In fact, the worst of all worlds may be to end up with front-page newspaper reports about how focus groups want a “patriotism strategy” while other Labour voices suggest that the very thought makes them feel sick.

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