political

How happy would you be waving a Union Jack at a Lib Dem event?

Union Jacks. CC0 Public Domain

Covering the London regional launch of the Liberal Democrat European referendum campaign, I reported:

Appointed to coordinate the Liberal Democrat referendum campaign, Iain talked to the hall in front of both a Union Jack and an EU flag, an appropriate backdrop to his points about how being pro-European and patriotic fit together and complement each other.

Ostentatious use of the Union Jack was a part of the original New Labour reinvention of that party. For them it was part of trying to answer Conservative and media attacks over Labour’s attitude towards defence, security and those hostile and brutal dictatorships whose anti-Americanism nonetheless attracted left-wingers.

For the European referendum it’s a rather different set-up but one with the same campaigning need at its heart: to show that disagreeing with, in this case, Eurosceptics is quite compatible with being patriotic.

If you want the best for Britain, you should be in favour of close cooperation with our neighbours to achieve it. That’s effective patriotism in action, and an important point to make given how powerful the appeal of patriotism can be to many of the swing voters who will determine the referendum’s outcome.

Yet there is a strong traditional antipathy amongst many Liberal Democrats to using the Union Jack, including past disputes over Union Jacks featuring in literature. So there may be some bumps along the road to come for the In/Remain campaign and the presence of patriotic symbols at Liberal Democrat events and in Liberal Democrat communications. Those are bumps worth enduring, however, not only because the prize is such an important one – winning the referendum – but also because many people who happily describe themselves as patriots are also liberals.


 
There is more about patriotism, the EU referendum and other issues in the excellent How (not) to talk about Europe from British Futures:

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Sign up to back the Liberal Democrat referendum campaign at http://www.libdems.org.uk/europe.

14 comments
Matthew Blackburn
Matthew Blackburn

here here. I've been looking into prospects of getting at the small-L liberals that find themselves looking to UKIP for an alternative to business-as-usual politics by engaging with them instead of denouncing them. So far I keep getting the same reaction, outright disgust followed by comprehension and agreement.

Jordan Beardsely-elmes
Jordan Beardsely-elmes

Leave Patriotism to the BNP, EDL, Britain First, UKIP, Conservatives and other Right-Wing cavemen.

Paul Gray
Paul Gray

Of course we have to use the flag. I was saying that twenty years ago in the anti nazi league to a bunch of buffoons who couldn't see beyond "but the far right use that" and nothing has persuaded me since to change that position. We can either get on and pull all the tricks to win this thing or look on smugly whilst losing. I do sometimes wonder whether some people in this party are actually interested in influencing anything beyond their own tiny bubble.

Lois Speller
Lois Speller

I don't think it would serve any useful purpose. It might even be misconstrued. We are a European country. I do not want to be part of a 51st state of the U.S of A.. All countries have their own flag and identities. The French are no less French or the Germans less German (and their union is far younger that the UK's) for being part of the EU.

Ben Bishop
Ben Bishop

Couldn't agree more mate and Mark what are British values? I'm certain I probably don't display most aha that argument is the same argument the British right wing use and it's getting old now especially when you think about it. Britain has been conquered many times. Although I'm probably the least patriotic person you could meet truth be told

Jack Karimi
Jack Karimi

If you choose 20,000 random people in the UK and examined them for a year some of them would commit crimes. Punish refugees that break the law, of course, but why should Syrians be held to a higher standard than our own people?

Mark Jackson
Mark Jackson

So what happens in your policy if the refugees DONT display British values?! All you've done is peeve potential floating voters.

Jack Karimi
Jack Karimi

Personally, I am not a patriotic person. I like Britain, but I don't like the idea of using symbols to express that. I do it by who I am, and by showing what I see British values to be, tolerance, respect etc. The Union Jack is a distraction. We should show our patriotism by displaying policies that are the best for Britain and those that show British values, like our support for the EU and refugee policy. We should not appeal to those who are only interested in a symbol and a label.

Anwar Robert Karim Afhim
Anwar Robert Karim Afhim

I've always said that I'm highly patriotic, but not in a flaggy way. Sure, it's our flag, and there's nothing wrong with flying it, but for me, patriotism is wanting the best for everyone in the world, but especially inside your country. Patriotism is paying taxes, working hard, helping your community, and fighting for your causes, not shouting "Rule Britannia!" and waving flags. I also personally far prefer the EU flag.

bradley_steve
bradley_steve

@markpack My inner pedant has forced me to point out that the flag is only called the Union Jack when flown frm the jack staff of a ship ;o)

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