Labour is right to reclaim the Union Jack - here's why

30 March 2024, 12:55 | Updated: 30 March 2024, 13:06

Sir Keir Starmer is right to reclaim the Union Jack
Sir Keir Starmer is right to reclaim the Union Jack. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Every now and then, certain factions in politics decide to get angry about our national flag.

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This time, and not for the first time, Sir Keir Starmer is being criticised by Labour MPs and members for its use of the Union Jack on campaign material, including at speeches and on leaflets.

I won’t bore you with an intricate history of the Union Jack, but basically, it’s been around for a very long time.

While its origins date back to the early 1600s, no law has been passed making the Union Jack the national flag of the United Kingdom.

However, it was stated in Parliament over 100 years ago that the “Union Jack should be regarded as the National Flag”, followed by the Home Secretary Sir John Gilmour stating in 1933 that it is indeed the national flag.

Despite this, in recent years, it has been rejected by some politicians, mainly on the left of politics.

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Some Labour party members and MPs are unhappy with the use of the flag, which they say has "links to the far right" and could "alienate ethnic minority voters", The Guardian reports.

One MP told the newspaper: “We are all really proud of our country but this can be a complex issue for some communities and we have to navigate that more carefully.

“For a lot of communities we are talking about colours that are associated with the National Front or another far-right group. Using the flag might be great for trying to reach those ‘hero voters’ but why can’t we have segmented branding.”

I understand their concerns and there is some truth behind what they are saying.

Tony Blair stands in front of the Union Jack
Tony Blair stands in front of the Union Jack. Picture: Alamy

After all, far-right groups like the National Front and British National Party adopted the Union Jack as part of their logos.

Nigel Farage’s UKIP also used the Union Jack heavily during the Brexit referendum. 

In some ways, the Union Jack has become a symbol of intolerance and far-right nationalism.

Read More: Starmer faces backlash from Labour MPs over ‘dominant’ use of union flag in electoral campaign

But this does not mean Labour, or any mainstream party, should shy away from using it.

In fact, it means the opposite: the use of the Union Jack by far-right groups is the reason why Labour, and other parties, need to use it more often.

In other words, the more sensible political parties in this country need to reclaim the national flag so it does not become a useful symbol for those holding racist and xenophobic views.

That is what the Union Jack is in danger of becoming forever if moderate parties shy away from using it.

Labour is right to embrace the Union Jack
Labour is right to embrace the Union Jack. Picture: Getty

On the other hand, if it does become a symbol mainstream parties use and can be proud of, it takes away power from those on the far right.

It also might just make us proud to be British again. After all, how is this great country meant to fix all of its problems if it does not even like itself?

So I say to Sir Keir Starmer and his team: keep using the Union Jack and you might just make this country proud to be British again.


LBC Views provides a platform for diverse opinions on current affairs and matters of public interest. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official LBC position.

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