Features » Twitters from Spain
RECLAIMING THE FLAG
Barrie Mahoney / 2012-07-28 19:05:42
Visitors to the Canary Islands and Spain will notice that the flying of flags is a popular pastime. Public and government buildings, as well as many private organisations, usually proudly display three flags in the Canary Islands: the Spanish flag, the Canary Islands’ flag and the flag of the European Union, and we even have another that is specific to the island of Gran Canaria.
Yes, despite the usual negativity and cynicism of many Brits, the European Union is still a popular and welcome concept in many European countries. Spain’s recent victory in the European Cup has also seen a flurry of Spanish and Canarian flags adorning the homes, cars and bodies of many islanders, and has been a delight to see.
Flags are important; they are a symbol of unity and pride. Although I personally find flag waving and adorning myself in the Union flag embarrassing, I respect and admire those who do. However, this is not the case throughout the world; we have only to look at the example of Northern Ireland, where flying a Union flag, or indeed the Republican Tricolour, is seen as provocative, and is one of the reasons why UK driving licences do not include a Union flag, but only the European Union flag, for fear of upsetting the sensitivities of some in parts of the United Kingdom.
This is a position that I understand is soon likely to change with the inclusion of both the Union flag and the European Union flag on UK driving licences, with the exception of those licences issued in Northern Ireland.
As a child, I was always taught that the national flag was called the Union Jack. In later years, we were told that this should only refer to the flag when being flown on warships, and that Union flag was the correct terminology. I understand that the position has changed once again and we can call it whatever we wish. The idea that the Union flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown from the bows of a warship is a relatively recent idea.
The Admiralty itself frequently referred to the flag as the Union Jack, whatever its use, and in 1902 the Admiralty declared that either name could be officially used. Parliamentary approval was given as long ago as 1908 when it was stated, "the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag". Therefore, I am going to return to using the original terminology that I learned at school, the Union Jack, from now on.
It recent years there has been a noticeable reduction in patriotism and pride in the UK, matched by a significant decline in ‘flying the flag’. Much of this seems to have come from the idea that displaying, waving and celebrating with the Union Jack was, in some ways, endorsing the racist and distorted views of a right wing, political party, which claimed the Union flag as the symbol of their own obnoxious organisation.
Thankfully, the balance has now been corrected and it has been good to see many ordinary people enjoying and celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, Wimbledon, Euro 2012 and the Olympic Games with their own national flag once again. The Union Jack has been reclaimed and renamed!
Hats, umbrellas, jackets, dog leads, boxes of chocolate, mugs and even slippers are now happily adorned with the Union Jack. No longer has it anything to do with allegiance with a particular political party, but is part of belonging, identity, celebration and pride.
The Union Jack has been around since 1606 and it is good to see the flag being reclaimed by ordinary people who feel pride in their country and wish to celebrate with it. Indeed, it is good to see the flags of any nation being displayed with pride anywhere in the world. It is perfectly possible to feel pride in being English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish, a member of the United Kingdom, as well as also being a good European.
© Barrie Mahoney