To fly or not to fly?

2 Flags.jpgPatriotic or divisive? We don’t fly many flags, Union or St George in this country outside London.

Whenever in the US I’m always taken aback by how many Stars ‘n’ Stripes there are wherever you happen to be… flying from flagpoles, on almost every uniform from airport cleaners and baggage handlers to police officers, the rear of many everyday citizen’s cars; in fact just about everywhere it is feasible to put the image.

Patriotic, I believe. One thing which always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end is when I hear or see something that makes me proud of my country or the people in it. To me, that means British or English.

So I wholeheartedly agree with the new Prime Minister’s comments that public buildings should fly the Union Flag as a matter of course. But it’s more than just flying a flag, I wish we were more patriotic as a country. I remember attending a baseball Baseball Baltimore.jpggame in Baltimore USA last year and when the US national anthem piped up I was struck by the totally genuine starry eyed look on everyone’s faces. Hand on the heart and looking longingly at their flag…. not because it was what everyone expected but because they were genuinely proud and patriotic…. you could just tell. And I think that’s good.

With all the problems (not just terrorism) we have in the UK we could do with more patriotism. Actually I think the majority of people are patriotic…. we just don’t show it. For some bizarre reason, until fairly recently, anyone wanting to fly our national flag needed planning permission. What’s all that about. I’m not sure the PM’s comment about public buildings only being able to fly the Union flag for 18 days a year is correct…. I think it’s more likely to be political correctness gone mad!

So I say yes; let’s fly our flags and let’s be much much more patriotic. I’ll be saying that to those officials responsible for our public buildings (and flagpoles) in Staffordshire.

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16 thoughts on “To fly or not to fly?

  1. paul hogan

    I whole heartedly agree with you Matthew. planning permission required and only 18 days per year? absolute tosh!


  2. Jools

    The WLQ and the Barnett Formula have removed any vestiges of Britishness I may once have had.

    I’m English not British. Home rule for England!

  3. M Anderson

    Dear mr Ellis,

    there is no legitimate reason why the English should not fly their flag everyday of the year. I do wish the pc anti-English brigade would sit in the corner. They are the only reason we even have the issue of England’s flag bought up in the first place. If youre old enough then you’ll know that the pc fools used to concentrate on the British flag. Oh it was the epitome of evil. Well, they’ve had to change because honest old Gordon Brown has decided that British is in. Now, the pc mob dont villify the British flag! Gordon needs to be British; not English. Well he obviously IS NOT English!
    Gordon Brown doesn’t know what he’s talking
    about as usual. Oh did I deliberately say English flag instead of union flag?
    We live in England. We are English!
    I see Brown hasn’t made any comments about scotland and wales not flying the union flag.
    Oh that must be because he wants to patronise the English again.

  4. Caleb Ellis

    Hmmm… I’m glad you wrote this. and yes, most if not all of us Americans are patriotic in one way or the other. This little article of yours tought me something, I had no idea that the UK government was so stuffy that they don’t even let their own people hang flags. To me it seems only natural that a country would let it’s citizens show some sort of divosion to it, other than paying taxes that is.

    Good day

  5. William Day

    We should be proud of our country and fly the flag all the time. (I have for many years had the flag flying at)
    Best wishes Mathew.

  6. Bill Williamson.... Dordon

    I think the government should, and are, doing something about border control now… albeit too late.

    It’s true that flying our flag is only a symbol but it is an important one. We should be more patriotic and proud.

    Matthew mentioned the US and someone else mentioned Australia with regard to them being openly patriotic. It goes much wider than that!! I travel a great deal in my job and I can confirm that it is we who are the odd ones out internationally. Other nationalities are openly proud and patriotic in the main… we for some reason are not and it must change.

    I see from this (excellent) website that you have done surveys and also petitions on a few issues. You should consider doing one on this subject.

    I would also say, at the risk of embarrassment to him, what an outstanding job Matthew seems to be doing for his electorate. This site and the information on it is a credit. I wish I could vote for you (and I’m not a Tory by default!!)


    I agree about flying flags from public buildings.

    However, this is just symbolic.
    What is more important are Border Controls and a sane (not civil service based ) granting of British Citizenship. Switzerland has a very good system which we could use as a model.

  8. Margaret Stanhope

    I swore my allegiance some 60 years ago as a Queen’s Girl Guide to both King and Country and my commitment has never wavered.
    For many years I had a flag pole (without planning permission) and flew the Union Jack with enormous pride, but sadly the flag pole rotted and proved too expensive to replace.
    I resent when filling in public forms that all too often there is no place to tick the box “English”.
    Patriotism is expressed openly by our sportsmen and women, our armed forces, and lets not forget farmers of the UK who publish the Union Flag on their products. I still look for the words “Made in the UK”
    Or couse we should fly the flag, before we all forget or never know that the National Flag of the United Kingdom combined the red cross of St George and white saltire cross of St Andrew surmounted by red saltire cross of St Patrick and retaining blue ground of banner of St Andrew.
    I still feel good when I sing GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

  9. Mike Withers

    We should fly the St Georges flag. If the other UK countries want to go there own way let them.

    England could do that too but who would fund the others. Bet we wouldn’t see many Union Jacks in Scotland now.

    Whichever one, yes we should not be afraid to be proud of our heritage so fly them high!

  10. Matthew Ellis

    Wow! A huge response to this issue already through the website CONTACT facility, which is, in effect, an e-mail to me and not publicly seen.

    I’d encourage COMMENTS which are public which will stimulate further debate but thanks to everyone who’s made their views known by either method so far.

  11. Richard Cox

    Matthew, I agree we should always at every opportunity fly the Union Jack. The flag of St George should be secondary to the Union flag.
    Devolution is creating a disregard and devaluing the importance of the Union that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I am extemeley proud to be British, but more often having to clarify that I am English. Fly the Union Jack
    Like you Matthew I experienced at a sporting event the singing of the national anthem, this was not in the US but in Australia. Whilst visiting friends in Townsville North Queensland, we went to see football game (rugby league to us) I to found myself wondering why this is not done back home. When watching England, the national anthem is not only sung at the beginning officially but throughout the match. So why can’t all sporting events or any event for that matter begin with the National Anthem. Long ago the BBC used to finish the day with God Save the Queen.
    We should be proud of all our traditions which make this country great, so we should fly the flag and sing our national anthem.


  12. Bernard Derrick


    I agree with your thoughts and comments. As an ex soldier (Regular & Territorial)of some thirty years service to Queen & Country, I also get tingles when I hear the National Anthem or when I see the Union Flag. However, I do think that Americans,with their natural fault of ostentation, do go a little OTT. I feel rather proud that we can handle such moments of national pride with true British reserve without any form of gushing sentimentality.
    Having said all that, I am pleased to see that the St George’s flag is at last being given prominence in England (and I am half Welsh!).

    Bernard Derrick

  13. Chubby - Stockton

    It was 18 days but thats been changed recently. Good on ya though for pushing a bit of pride in your neck of the woods.

  14. Guy from Shenstone


    Taking a lead from Gordon Brown…whatever next!!

    Yes, we should be proud to fly our national flags and I wish you success in making sure public buildings do. Nice idea, well done.

  15. Brian C (Tamworth)

    I agree with what you say and particularly your observations about the States.

    The different backgrounds and nationalities, in the main, consider themselves to be American.

    We could learn a lot and wish you success but fear political correctness, because of upseting a few, will win through.

  16. Samantha from Curborough

    We should have more pride in the country without the worry of being called racist or devisive as you put it!

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