Waving the Flag for England

It’ has been a while since I blogged. The reason? I guess its because I’ve been in deep thought about a number of issues.
Firstly, the economic climate is full of uncertainty and if like me you run a business, it yields a series subtle stress…! Secondly, as the summer kicks in, you get to experience change… derived from the climate, mood and the environment. Combine all this with flag-waving mania (just look at the state of some of the cars roaming around with countless England flags clipped onto their windows) induced by the World Cup soccer championships and my birthday – often a time to reminisce about your life and consider how things have changed.

When I grew up the national flag and St George’s flag were both synonymous with racism. They had both been hijacked by the racist party – the national front (note the lower case!).  Are things any different now?

On Saturday 12th June 2010 I was invited to join a group of friends to watch England’s first world-cup match against the USA. The event was televised on 4 screens, including a large projection wall display. We all decided to congregate at the Indian Gymkhana, first established in 1916. Click here for a full history of its inception.

Back to the match. The majority of those watching the match were of Indian decent – Representatives from all of Indian’s wide and varied community were present. Even my next door neighbour with his entire family attended.

Interestingly, there was one thing they all had in common. 80% wore an England football shirt and the atmosphere was electrified by the chants of ‘Come on England’!

I managed to catch some of the excitement, especially just after the first and only goal that was scored: See below:


I found this new loyalty to the English flag amazing on many levels.

  • Was this a demonstration that Norman Tebbit’s rules had been broken?
  • Did Enoch Powell’s  rivers of blood speech now mean nothing as people felt comfortable with accepting England as their true home?

My mind tells me that we have a further journey to travel – for the general community to accept people from different backgrounds, many who have fathers and mothers that struggled since the 1950s to be accepted as equals and who laid the foundations for today’s youth and generally more comfortable life style.

Why do I still feel some cynicism regarding the flag ? Firstly, there is no acceptance from the media at large to acknowledge that the UK is varied in its cultural make-up. TV, radio and the majority of featured celebrities is orientated towards a sub-culture and the pretence that the average viewer or listener is from a ‘white’ background. What also does not help are shows like Britain’s Got Talent displaying a weekly / seasonal undertone of inequality and class distinction. The BBC are quick to chop the BBC Asian Network (Why call it Asian!) yet commitment to Radio 3 continues. Remember too that ‘ethnic’ programming is still late into the night!

Maybe, I was shocked due to my personal experiences of being bullied on race grounds at school. Maybe, I consider that today’s loyalty to the flag displayed by others is based on convenience. NB We do have a lot to the Thank the UK for.
Or, maybe I should be more optimistic that ‘times are a changing’ ?

Categories: 2010, anti-racism, BBC, Featured Articles, Media Watch


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