It’s been quite a week for flag-waving in the UK and beyond.
Post-Brexit, flag-shagging has been a favoured allegation tossed over the fence at anybody obtrusively displaying a Union Flag, paradoxically by those vigorously spraying the EU counterpart. Subtly, those wishing to avoid banner hypocrisy adorn their social media profiles with blue hearts, but we see you.
The flagshagging epithet is however fair comment when no politician can currently face the cameras without a Union Flag erect in the background.
It’s all posturing nonsense by those craving an identity that might garner popularity, but that is where we are right now.
I remember the days when Labour politician John Prescott would be slated for having two Jags. Now, self-importance is signalled by two flags. Even Labour are at it, appropriating Nationalism for votes. Well, they haven’t got any policies, so perhaps we ought to cut them some slack.
We have all now stumbled into a new era of flagellation not simply confined to the far right, where people beat and allow ourselves to be beaten with flags for whatever thrills and advantage they can milk from it.
And it gets worse.
The UK Government has just instructed local authorities to display the EU flag on signs, posters and the like in order to still be eligible for European Regional Development Fund wonga. This is cash to help with the Covid-19 reopening for which the UK remains eligible until 2023.
I’m not sure in whose mouths that leaves the worst taste: the Government’s, the EU’s, or ours?
It sure as hell ain’t taking back control.
It’s a grim double-standard, but let’s not forget that a few years back, pro-EU hacks had defended the continued fluttering of the blue and gold starred monstrosity on the grounds that the flag was always that of the Council of Europe and not exclusively that of the EU.
Quelle surprise, they’re conveniently ignoring that now, and the arguments have flipped. Hard-Brexiting ministers are taking bucketloads for their hypocrisy, and Government apologists are pointing out that it’s not the EU flag after all, which is precisely what they had argued since 2016. This is, though, like surrendering but claiming that the while flag is a bedsheet being hung out to dry.
In all this, however, we’re the ones being hung out to dry.
In a further development, as if the political cynicism couldn’t sink lower, the Government was still content to ram cake down its own throat by issuing fresh guidance on the display of flags: ‘Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the flag of the European Union is no longer included in the list of flags that do not require consent’.
You’ve got to admire their brazen cheek.
The EU meanwhile has hit the buffers with its request to allow European teams to carry their Eurobanner alongside their national flags. Understandably, the Olympic Committee was having none of it.
That’s hardly surprising. Had the Olympic moguls acquiesced to that, other organisations like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Amazon, for example, might have wanted their own pop rolling out the bunting. Yes, I know that the EU has carved out a role for itself with countries delegating their power and decision-making, but that doesn’t make them a nation state any more than a fast-food giant might be. It’s a supranational organisation that provides products and services in exchange for hard cash. It’s not a country with its own citizens.
People just cannot get enough of the flag farrago, though. Yet, as must be becoming abundantly clear, flags are just symbols – empty vessels that carry whatever assumptions people want us to believe without question. The EU utilised the blue-and-gold flag as a Trojan horse themselves to establish their liberal credentials, conflating their organisation with that of the already-established human rights body, The Council of Europe.
In precisely the same way, far-right loons and social democrats use their own national colours when it suits them in order to apply leverage to our emotions, to get us on board as one nation, and to divert us away from facts.
Even the Olympic flag has been appropriated and rinsed by Russian athletes who otherwise had been banned from the current games. If the rationale for that is sound, who were Olympic bosses banning?
Another day, another flag. Another vehicle for charlatanry.
It’s a fact that when the powers-that-be start to flag, so does truth and integrity.