Monday, May 27, 2024
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Emblems of a flagging country


I REMEMBER flicking through a small book depicting the flags of the world when I was young. These symbols conjured exotic images in my mind of places I had never seen and which, at the age of eight, I had no knowledge of. Nevertheless, each flag represented something – a people, a history, a culture. For whatever reason I found it engrossing beyond description.

Flags embody the nations they represent. They are the emblems which have inspired people to commit acts of incomparable acts of bravery and derring-do. By the same token, they have fluttered above some of humanity’s most grotesque excesses.

Although many modernists claim to have moved beyond the base sentimentality attached to emotive symbols such as flags, these assertions are a lie. For each Europhile who disdains our national flag – to kowtow to such primitive symbology is a distinctly plebeian activity – upon seeing the EU flag they would inevitably find themselves prostrate on the ground and cooing like imbeciles before you could say ‘Herman Van Rompuy’.

In most countries it is not uncommon to see the national flag. The more a nation has been under the cosh of some external oppressor in recent history, the truer this becomes. Having not been conquered in about a millennium, perhaps this is why the English are unreasonably terrified of the St George’s cross. So rare is it to see an assertion of English national pride outside the plastic patriotism of football (is it still coming home?) or rugby that to see the English flag in the wild is an occasion itself.

Driving through the Buckinghamshire town of Newport Pagnell recently, I saw the entire high street bedecked with England flags. This was on the occasion, in case you missed it, of St George’s Day. It conjured in me a sense of wonderment, almost a glimpse into another world where celebrating one’s Englishness is not the societal equivalent of treading in freshly laid dog muck.

Newport Pagnell

Yet life has a way of bringing you back down to earth. Not a week later I had the misfortune of driving through Northampton. Going through the town centre I spotted a Palestinian flag. My assumption that it was a one-off was quickly dashed, and I counted ten (I did not survey the entire town: surely there were even more).

The flags, cable-tied to lampposts throughout the town, served as a severe black pill moment. I do not know who put them up, but their appearance is nevertheless indicative of the growing clefts in British society. Another sectarian conflict thousands of miles away brought to these shores, serving as a proxy for the broader changes rapidly under way in these isles.

One of Northampton’s many Palestinian flags

Unlike most I feel no burning allegiance to either side in the Israel/Gaza perennial disaster. No longer a world power, such matters should not concern us overly. We are in such a degraded state that to indulge in geopolitics is foolishness itself. We assume an ability to sway world events while failing to repair our pot-holed roads.

The springing up of foreign flags points to the rapid changes taking place, most notably the inexorable increase of Islam’s influence upon our daily lives. Other occasions of the idiotic flying of foreign colours – notably Ukraine’s – are indicative of other imbecilities in our national life (sadly, they are numerous).

Nevertheless, recent decades have seen the relentless shift towards accommodating the ever-growing Muslim demographic in our country. Much of the food we eat is halal. In Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre the map in the food court is overlaid with large ‘halal’ signs to indicate which eatery conforms to the ritual slaughter of animals.

We have de facto blasphemy laws, with public figures and average citizens alike frightened of the repercussions of voicing concern about the transformation taking place. There is no actual debate on the topic, for to disagree vehemently is to single yourself out for potentially violent retribution. Those who pretend otherwise are liars.  

Hadiths are shown in public spaces such as train stations – unthinkable but a few years ago. Mosques spring up across the land, even at Piccadilly Circus. Swathes of our cities are unrecognisable. For those who do not agree, I encourage you to take a drive through parts of cities such as Leicester, where the odds of seeing a pale-faced Anglo-Saxon are, quite literally, 100/1.

As I write, the results of various elections across the UK are coming in. Reported turnouts linger as low as 20-30 per cent. Seven or eight out of each ten voters cannot be bothered to go out and vote. And why should they? An entrenched elite poses us the fraudulent opportunity of change. It is a charade, a sham.

And what is the point in democracy if nothing is ever allowed to change? At least in autocracies they know they aren’t free. Here, we douse ourselves in the fragrance of ‘Western liberal democracy’ in an attempt to cover up the stench of social decay and politicians’ vile deceit.

In recent weeks I have been listening to historical speeches. When one ventures into the darker alcoves of the 20th century one hears leaders speaking of the ineffectiveness of democratically elected leaders amid a backdrop of national humiliation, inflation and unemployment. They were societies riven by ideological differences. What followed in their wake was unparalleled disaster.

The post-war settlement spoke of ‘learning lessons from the past’. Yet our modern equilibrium is so violently disjointed and rushing headlong into disaster at such a pace that any pretence of maintaining a stable, peaceful society is mere hot air.

What is perhaps most astounding is the rapidity of change that has overtaken us. Our only saving grace may be that the backlash, if it comes, may be as sudden in its amelioration of our condition. But for now we live in a country where it is more surprising to see the English flag than the Palestinian.

What did my grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather put their lives on the lines for in the trenches and on D-Day? What was the point? What are we becoming? A democracy where nobody can be bothered to vote because they know it will mean nothing and where the country becomes more unrecognisable by the day?

This article appeared in Frederick’s Newsletter on May 5, 2024, and is republished by kind permission. 

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Frederick Edward
Frederick Edward
Frederick Edward is from the Midlands. You can see his Substack here.'

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