Socialist Worker

Flagging up a problem

Issue No. 2762

England fans sing the national anthem before kick off.

England fans sing the national anthem before kick off. (Pic: Jonathan/Flickr)


Remember when the left was against nationalism and flags?

It wasn’t that long ago. When Labour leader Keir Starmer started delivering speeches in front of giant union jacks, most of the left rightly got annoyed and took the piss.

A few successful England football games later, that’s all forgotten.

Starmer poses in a budget England T-shirt for a photoshoot in one upmarket pub. And in another pub, soft left writer Owen Jones takes a picture in front of a giant St George’s Cross.

That’s the same Owen Jones who complained about Starmer’s “inauthentic flag-waving” just one month ago.

Still, as he pointed out, it was the pub that put the flag up, not him. He just happened to take a selfie in front of it.

There’s a less cowardly excuse doing the rounds from other lefties on the England bandwagon.

It’s a diverse team, they say. Its players take the knee. We can all unite behind this progressive patriotism.

It’s plastic rubbish. There’s a reason why Boris Johnson looks more comfortable in front of a flag than Starmer or Jones.

National unity—no matter how twee and fluffy—unites us with those at the top and sets us against those from “outside”.

If football comes home, it’s going to Johnson’s house. Let’s not stand at the front door begging to be let in.


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