Happy St. George's Day
The English flag gets a lot of abuse.
For example, at the 2020 European Championships, Boris Johnson stood on a huge St.George's cross outside Downing Street to show his support for the England football team.
He was also photographed in an England shirt, enjoying the match with his wife. He gets extra points for keeping his tie on.
Everyone likes to be part of the big occasion, but it's difficult to know who he thought he was going to convince with this photoshoot. Whatever his loyalties are, no-one believes they are to the England football team.
At the other end of things is Labour’s Emily Thornberry. During the 2014 Rochester by-election she was so shook by the sight of the national flag and a working man's van that she tweeted an "“image from #Rochester”, which was widely seen as, at best, condescending. That's Islington for you.
She later apologised, saying she found the number of flags "remarkable," and resigned from the Labour front bench. But she's unlikely to live it down completely. Her tweet helped cement that image as representing the people who value about the things she was happy to sneer at. No-one was in any doubt about what she meant, and it was perfectly clear where those people are in her political priorities.
Johnson and Thornberry are easy to mock, but it's not really about them. They are both entirely in the mainstream of their respective parties, and it’s clear that neither have much place for the non-elite.
The Conservatives have been in power for more than fifty years since WWII. They have always pursued economic growth and a ‘competitive’ labour force whatever the damage to the social fabric. Economic activity creates wealth, but prosperity is not just money. Much of what we really value is created when 'the spontaneous fruit of human sympathy is allowed to ripen' (1): in high-trust conditions, economic activity improves social bonds; in low-trust conditions, not so much. No-one expects the Tory Party to conserve anything other than wealth.
Labour isn't much different. The party came from the labour and union movement, but it is rooted just as much in social engineering and Fabian utopianism. It is this is what Labour has stood for for the last twenty five years, and it ends only in a rootless technocratic 'utopia'. That is something ordinary people have never wanted. Their lives are the raw material for this scheme, and it destroys social bonds, and life chances, and quality of life, just as unrestrained capital does.
When times are tough, you look for what will last, and it's not the casual contempt and empty flag-waving of the political-media class that will sustain you. All administrations and political parties are temporary; the nation is what persists as they come and go. Other UK countries have strong national identities, which is great. English people also want respect for where they belong, and to feel good about where their families are from. Just like anyone else.