What’s the Meaning of the Flag of St. George?

In England last week, I found St. George's Cross, the English flag, everywhere– flying from car windows, hanging in front of homes– even on biscuits in the supermarket. By comparison, I spotted just one British flag. I gather that in the past, back in the day when Mod kids wore the Union Jack as a jacket liner or used them as blankets, St. George's Cross carried a connotation of white supremacy. In the age of multi-racial Britain, however, when the English football team actually looks like the rest of England, the flag of St. George appears to be embraced by all. It reminds me of Chicago in the Jordan era, when Bulls stickers and flags were everywhere.

But I guess not everyone in England agrees. Egland's Rose points out the English mainstays like Tesco, Heathrow and cabbies are all wrestiling with the question. English tabloid the Sun carried this story last week:

…ex-minister Gisela Stuart claimed the rise of Englishness is a threat to democracy. German-born Ms Stuart said she is concerned people claim to be English rather than British.

Mr White, who is 65 and near retirement, wrote back: “England, as opposed to Britain, has an unfortunate history around the world and within the British Isles and please do not say that it is all past.

“It is a fact that the right and extreme right in Britain cloak themselves in the English flag, the cross of St George and claim to be the true representatives of the English.

“Wherever there is hooligan behaviour, usually linked to extreme right-wing political groups eg, at football matches here and abroad, it is the flag of St George that is displayed.”

Ed sites Charlie Brooker's Guardian piece on "St George's Cross flag wavers/wearers:"

Rejoice! Thanks to the national obsession with football, the cross of St George has finally been reclaimed from the racists. Nowadays, when you see an England flag on a car, sprawled across a T-shirt, or flapping from a novelty hat, you no longer assume the owner is a dot-brained xenophobe. Instead you assume he's just an idiot. And you're right. He is.

Little Man in a Toque explores the same theme:

We need to glory again in the name of Scotsmen or Welshmen or Englishmen and in the name of Britons, but in a multi-racial society we can only do this through fostering a sense of civic nationalism and pride in our collective and separate identities.

There's an interesting sent of comments cross posted at Albion's Seedlings.

Meanwhile,Glasgow's Sunday Mail tried an experiment with the flag:

…we took our St George's cross attached to the bonnet of a parked car round four cities – and in two it was stolen and binned within an hour.

In Edinburgh, our flag was trashed after just 17 minutes -while Glasgow punters put up with it for half an hour longer.

And in Dundee, lads even gave it a two-finger salute – silly really, as the flag can't answer back. Our completely unscientific survey involved parking the beflagged car in George Square, Glasgow, Leith Walk, Edinburgh, Perth Road, Dundee and Union Street, Aberdeen.

I had a great time in Cornwall last week and I love my English in-laws, but I'll be joining Jack McConnell and other Scots in cheering on the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago when they face England on June 15.



10 thoughts on “What’s the Meaning of the Flag of St. George?

  1. Actually, the St George’s flag was never a symbol of white supremacy. Before the 1990s, you would be hard pressed to buy one here because England had almost totally submerged itself in the Union. The “British” Union flag was “our” flag – and it flew for all occasions, from the pomp and ceremony of state occasions, to the celebration of England winning the World Cup in 1966 to racist groups in Doc Martens, smashing up dance halls.

    The Cross of St George returned to England after about a three hundred year absence in the 1990s as a football emblem. In these times of unequal devolution, it is being seen more and more as a symbol for a modern day England, struggling to re-emerge (against UK Government opposition) from the shadows of the Union.

    Whilst many of the British “Chattering Classes” would like the St George’s flag buried and are responsible for tarnishing its name, a look back at historical fact does not substantiate their claim that it was ever misused.

    These days, the odious British National Party uses the Welsh Dragon, Scottish Saltire, English Cross of St George and the British Union flag at its rallies. This reflects devolution in the UK, but does not alter the fact that the BNP is a Unionist organisation. Fortunately, the ordinary people of Britain, be they Scottish, English or Welsh, have ensured that the BNP will not hijack their national flags.

    The flags belong to the people, regardless of race, colour or creed.

  2. At least the BNP are true patriots and don’t want either England or any other part of the United Kingdom submerged and totally destroyed by masses of third world and other immigrants unlike the civic ‘nationalist’ nutters of the Englidh Democrats and the CEP who are more interested in anti-Scottish and anti-Welsh bigotry rather than England’s true interests.

    If the COSG or the Union Flag belongs to everyone regardless of their ancestry then neither flag has any real meaning. Nationality has quite a lot to do with race though not totally.

  3. Barry is known under a number of names around the Net (he has recently been cussing and blinding on the Campaign for an English Parliament news blog) and is pretty famous for making worrying comments about England, immigrants to Britain and his desire for the continuation of discrimination against the people of England by the UK Government. He claims Welsh ancestry, but his rants must not be seen as typical of the people of modern day Britain.

    What a bizarre comment about cheering on Trinidad and Tobago, Media SITREP. After the attacks by Scots racists on football fans wearing England shirts in the summer (one a seven year old boy), I feel that we don’t really need Americans, whose culture is based so much on that of England’s, joining the anti-English chorus and fuelling Scots bigotry. Time to call a halt to smug misguided, bigoted jibes all round. Grow up, eh?

  4. Maria, thanks for the background on the other commenter
    hmm, I’m not sure I see what’s bizarre or bigoted about rooting for T&T– in Manhattan in June red and black T&T shirts were more common than England jerseys. Further, it seems that American culture could be said to have some Scottish elements, no? As to football hooliganism, it seems the English have experienced their fair share.

  5. Maria, neither England nor Britain will exist in any meaningful sense if immigration is allowed to continue at its present totally uncontrolled pace. If you were a true patriot, you would concerned about this subject but like many people who claim to be you aren’t for the sake of appearing to be PC.

  6. Well, i’m related to the Norse people on Orkney and want to know when the scots are going go give back my isles AND oil!!!
    The scots love to whine about the English’ but they never even want to mention what they did in the Orkneys! I wonder why?
    What scottish hypocrites!!!

  7. I agree with Barry’s second comment here. Maria is just regurgitating what is seen to be the right thing to say. To be PC. There is no thought or logic gone into that comment. Right or wrong, the spike of immigration into the UK has robbed us of our ancestry identity. What it meant to be English or British 50 years ago, means a different thing nowadays. And as much as I disagree with most BNP comments, they speak at least some sense. Are all muslim’s extremists willing to murder at a moments notice? No. But if there were no muslim’s in the UK, would we have had the 7/7 bombings? No. So you have to weigh up the options. We could keep them and be politically correct, but face bombs going off every once in a while. Or we could get rid of them, and be safer. I’m not championing which is right or which is wrong. But how many bombs going off, how many dead, until being PC isn’t the priority?

  8. English this, British that, controlling immigration the other. It all adds up to the same thing, bigotry. This planet in all it’s wonderment belongs to us all to share. If we dissect the cracks, yes we have to protect our national security as do all other nations and need to be extremely vigilant when allowing travellers to our shores to be vigilant concerning extremists, but these idiotic and ill educated people such as those from the bnp need to get a grip and realise that whatever guise they portray themselves in, they are just plain nauseating bigots who have nothing better to do than judge people by the colour of their skins.

  9. lee,you’re an idiot.england is being systematically destroyed by a anti english scots/welsh cabal in parliament.the reason behind the mass uncontrolled immigration and human rights law is gerrymandering the population and bribing the “newcomers”.COME TO ENGLAND WE WILL GIVE YOU EVERYTHING,ALL YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER IS IF YOU VOTE FOR ANYBODY ELSE THEY’LL SEND YOU BACK,BUT WE’VE PUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT INTO LAW,SO YOU CAN LIE AND STAY HERE.and at the same time destroy english culture.ROUND THEM UP AND KICK THEM OUT.I INCLUDE THE SCOTS,WELSH AND IRISH ASWELL.

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