World

A handy guide to flags

2 April 2021

5:45 PM

2 April 2021

5:45 PM

The Union Jack is back. No TV interview with a government minister is complete without a flag and their departments have been ordered to hoist them above their offices. Soon our country will look like a never-ending Golden Jubilee street party, but with neither refreshments nor festivities.

We’d all like a street party, but many are embarrassed by constant flag waving, especially when the flag in question is the Union Jack. The students of London’s Pimlico Academy were so put out by the idea of flags that they even went as far as to argue that the Union Jack flying outside their school was an emblem of racism, demanding that the headteacher took it down. Since it’s now the job of pupils and protestors to decide school rules, he duly granted them their wishes.

It seems some flags are more palatable than others. If you don’t like the Union Jack, there are plenty of others to choose from:

The Flag of Europe


The EU flag is ideal for anyone who no longer feels themselves to be ‘British’. Even though you may not read European newspapers and you were never very good at languages, your true allegiance belongs to the land of open borders and vaccine factory raids. If you still dream about living in a land where the government is safely kept away from its people, hang an EU flag on your bedroom wall. Last year, that well known bastion of Europhilia, Hounslow council, vowed to fly the EU flag indefinitely.

The Cuban flag

Flying the Cuban flag marks you out as a ‘good socialist’, but also a fun-loving one who enjoys dancing to Mambo and drinking rum on a sun-drenched beach – far removed from the likes of Stalin. It is favoured by those in late middle-age who like a good Caribbean holiday, but wish they had been a bit more like Che Guevara in their youth. Cuban flags bring a splash of exoticism to trade union demonstrations in rain-swept streets. Socialism is sexier when it’s sun-soaked.

The flag of Palestine

The Palestinian flag is popular with Labour councils who want divert attention away from the mundane tasks of running schools and filling in pot-holes. Palestine is ideal because it is so far away from Tower Hamlets, Preston or Aberdeen. The complexities of Middle Eastern politics can be avoided from afar and local councillors can pledge their allegiance to a people that they will never meet, from a country that they have no intention of visiting. They are far easier to handle than the locals who turn up at councillors’ surgeries.

The Saltire

The Scottish flag represents the struggle for the freedom to complain about being abused by the English – who seem to be bemused by the whole thing and wonder they’ve done to deserve it, apart from willingly handing over £14 billion of tax each year to Holyrood. Once Scottish nationalists are free from their southern overlords, they can enjoy the pleasures of a one-party state. Nicola Sturgeon is hedging her bets by flying the EU flag every day from the Scottish Parliament.

LGBTQ+ Rainbow flag

Boring corporations and public bodies have added a splash of colour to their image by painting their products with rainbows. We feel better about indulging in McDonalds french fries when they are eaten out of a rainbow container. And insurance policies are so much more exciting when stamped with a rainbow logo. Although trains, buses and banks tend not to express a sexual preference, it is important that inanimate objects are shown as allies of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people.

NHS

The NHS is not a nation but it does have a flag – one that has come in handy as a source of national unity during the pandemic. Not being poorly has become our new national ambition. Flying this flag will win you plaudits from your neighbours and hopefully ward off the Covid wardens. Ask not what the NHS can do for you, ask what you can do for your NHS. Sign up now (but don’t call the doctor).

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