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Starmer faces Labour unease over use of Union flag in election campaign

30 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, image by Stefan Rousseau, PA Images

Labour’s use of the Union flag is “definitely detrimental” in areas with large ethnic minority populations, an MP has warned amid unease about the party’s campaign material.

Under Sir Keir Starmer the flag has played a prominent role in Labour campaign material and appearances by the leader as he stresses the party’s patriotic values.

But a Guardian report said the Labour leader was facing discontent from some of the party’s elected representatives over freepost election leaflets “plastered with Union Jacks”.

Meetings

Concerns were reportedly raised at recent meetings of the party’s black, Asian and minority ethnic group at Westminster and also by London members of the parliamentary Labour Party.

One MP said: “We are all really proud of our country but this can be a complex issue for some communities and we have to navigate that more carefully.

“For a lot of communities we are talking about colours that are associated with the National Front or another far-right group.”

The MP said using the flag might be “great” to target the “hero voters” the party needs to switch from the Tories, but there should be “segmented branding” with different material used in other areas.

Detrimental

Another MP told the Guardian: “I can see how it would work in some places but it’s definitely detrimental in university towns, and in heavily Bame (black, Asian and minority ethnic) seats.”

A councillor on the south coast of England told the newspaper: “I’ve seen boxes of the leaflets being piled up because activists don’t want to give them out.”

The Guardian said a video sent out to activists and organisers said the flag “dominates” the party’s election branding, along with “Labour red”.

Abdi Duale, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee said: “Britain’s strength is in its diversity and our communities are hugely proud of our nation and its flag.

“Labour is running a proudly progressive and patriotic campaign that celebrates all our communities and that includes using our flag.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Keir’s changed Labour Party is positive, progressive and patriotic. The Union flag is something we are proud to carry.”

But Labour’s opponents seized on the Guardian’s story.

Conservative Party deputy chairman Jack Lopresti said: “Sir Keir Starmer claims to have changed the Labour Party but no matter how much he wraps himself in the flag, he can’t even stop his candidates from doing Britain down.

“The Conservatives are the party of Great Britain and will never be ashamed of our flag.”

Reform UK’s deputy leader Ben Habib said “this tells you everything you need to know about the hijacking and breaking of our wonderful country” and Labour “should be ashamed of itself”.


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Jeff
Jeff
11 days ago

Problem is the Tory party, aka Far Right Party of the Uk will seize on anything to belittle Labour. This will get dirty, have any opposition party got anything to counter the hate coming their way. Tory party is dying on its feet and will lash out.

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
11 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

Not just the ‘Far Right’. There is a centre/centre-right/moderate right within Labour, and should be. Such people like the Union Flag too. Problems for Labour are (1) they split on issues like this and (2) renders them muddled in a Welsh context. Nothing’s changed for over 100 years

Jeff
Jeff
11 days ago

Connotations of the flag will cause a lot of issues this election, but mainly because it will be gamed that way. I try to look past the game but it is in evidence even here. Don’t vote for them because they display the flag but we will allow the other lot to remain in who also worship the flag.

This is what I am seeing here.

CapM
CapM
10 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

The Guardian isn’t a Tory supporting newspaper and the criticism it’s reporting is coming from Labour party members. What’s is it you think the Tory’s are doing with this situation.

It’s pretty obvious to anyone that isn’t seriously vision impaired that Labour has been as enthusiastic about Jackwashing it’s identity as the Tories.

“Don’t vote for them because they display the flag but we will allow the other lot to remain in who also worship the flag.”
Scaremongering again. Labour will win the next General Election even if all 32 constituencies in Cymru elect Tories!


Glwyo
Glwyo
10 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

Insisting on calling the Tories far right does more harm than good, because then a bog standard right wing party like New Labour can larp as an opposition.

John Davies.
John Davies.
11 days ago

That won’t play well in Wales. The flag that evokes an instinctive response for me and for many others is our big red heraldic beast. The Union Jack has too many associations of unpleasant neo-colonial Sais attitudes, economic exploitation, rule by an uncaring Westminster government that neglects our issues and interests and more besides. Remember Phil Bennett’s famous speech: “Look at what these bastards have done to Wales. They’ve taken our coal, our water, our steel. They buy our houses and live in them for a fortnight every 12 months. And what have they given us? Absolutely nothing. We’ve been… Read more »

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
11 days ago
Reply to  John Davies.

The butchers apron say no more

John Davies.
John Davies.
11 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Jones

I confess I had never known that name for it, which is totally apt. Learn something new every day. I shall use it from now on.

Gwyn Price
Gwyn Price
10 days ago
Reply to  John Davies.

The Welsh flag is as soaked in the blood of the Empire as the Union Jack. The south east Wales steam and coal industry fuelled the British Empire and the mid Wales wool industry provided the uniforms. Plenty of Scots, Irish and Welsh lads joined up, as many as from the England. No one likes to hear it, but the British Empire was a collaborative effort. If it was down to England, what? That tony country ruling three quarters of the world. They must be gods ,

John Davies.
John Davies.
10 days ago
Reply to  Gwyn Price

I think to represent it as a “collaborative effort” is to misrepresent reality badly. “Plenty of Scots, Irish and Welsh lads joined up”, as did many poorer English, under the leadership of an English ruling class remarkable for its ruthlessness and readiness to spend their lives profligately, either in imperial adventures overseas or in work in atrocious industrial conditions. Death or utter penury (much the same thing) being the only real alternative on offer, yes, our people took part.

There is not much real “collaboration” there. Know your enemy. They would do it again without hesitation.

Last edited 10 days ago by John Davies.
Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
10 days ago
Reply to  Gwyn Price

Yet the fact remains that if Wales (and Scotland and Ireland for that matter) had been an independent country there is no way that Wales could have conquered such an enormous Empire, or indeed any kind of empire. England, however, could have done so without Wales, Scotland and Ireland. So the ‘British’ empire was really the English empire.

Art Byrant
Art Byrant
10 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

If that is true – a nation as small as England ruling three quarters of the world – then they must be gods

Last edited 10 days ago by Art Byrant
CapM
CapM
10 days ago
Reply to  Gwyn Price

“mid Wales wool industry provided the uniforms.”

 Who’d have thought it. If it wasn’t for our sheep farmers the English army would have been fighting bare-arsed.

Art Byrant
Art Byrant
10 days ago
Reply to  CapM

In your dreams boyo

Riki
Riki
10 days ago
Reply to  Gwyn Price

How many people from Wales were in positions of power? Those setting policies that severely affected people abroad?! For Christ sake, we have only had one PM from Wales, and he was Born in Manchester! probably explains why the English voted for him, they obviously thought he was English. This the same nonsense they play with Slavery, trying to make out Wales played a major role when the role they played was helping to abolish it, this is why many Blacks have Welsh surnames, they adopted those of the people who had helped them, using them in the other context… Read more »

CapM
CapM
10 days ago
Reply to  Riki

” this is why many Blacks have Welsh surnames, they adopted those of the people who had helped them, ”

Unfortunately that’s most likely just a feel good myth.
If you look at Afro-Americans with Welsh surnames there are high percentages in the southern states.
More so due to Afro-Americans taking on the names of their former owners who had Welsh surnames rather than the abolitionists with Welsh surnames who were involved in the underground railroad.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
11 days ago

There are reasons an alternative name for the union flag is the Bloody Butcher’s Apron.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
11 days ago

Well no BUTCHERS APRON union jack should be flown in Wales we are not on that flag Thank God

Mawkernewek
11 days ago

A councillor on the south coast of England told the newspaper: “I’ve seen boxes of the leaflets being piled up because activists don’t want to give them out.” I’ve had a couple of them, and they have come via post, not delivered by local Labour. Neither named the actual candidate, and both were emblazoned by the Union Jack and the words “BRITAIN’S FUTURE”, one of them also by Rachel Reeves’ face. To be fair I have had a card also which was from the candidate, and delivered without an envelope though I don’t know whether by Labour activists or as… Read more »

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
11 days ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

I’m pretty sure that “the Labour Party presented to you in 2019” was in the service of working people. The fact that the Human Rights Lawyer, who doesn’t believe in Human Rights for Palestinians, is saying otherwise means he’s either stupid or talking to people who have a warped view of “the service of working people.”

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
10 days ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

The labour party presented to me in 2019 is the only labour party I would support, Mr keir starmer is as big a liar and charlatan as boris johnson!

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
11 days ago

Why does this man think he can appropriate the ‘Flag’ it does NOT represent Wales anyway. Has he really got SO little to offer us that he has to fall back on this well worn trope. I would like to see WELSH Labour, disassociate its self from this ‘Sham’ Labour UK Party headed by a man who could not be MORE ‘Establishment’ He lies and back turns constantly. See analysis by Peter Oborne on Utube. Very enlightening!

A.Redman
A.Redman
11 days ago

You are happy with Welsh Labour? “God bless us and save us”

John Davies.
John Davies.
10 days ago
Reply to  A.Redman

Welsh Labour is far from perfect, but compared with the London party it is an improvement. Mind, so would almost anything be.

CapM
CapM
10 days ago
Reply to  John Davies.

Why is” far from perfect” acceptable?

And with Starmer’s man as First Minister “Welsh Labour” are going to be even further from perfect than they are now.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
11 days ago

I deteste the Union Flag with a passion. To me it represents ignorance, arrogance, subjugation, theft, lies, deceit, murder, racism, imperialism and fascism. The Butcher’s apron on electoral material just ensures I won’t be voting for that party and/or candidate. I had considered holding my nose and voting for Labour in this a Labour/Tory marginal, but if that’s their strategy they can whistle for it. Jog on Labour! As much as I want the Tories out in London, I don’t want Labour gaining a majority. They need to be forced to work with others who will ensure an increase in… Read more »

John Davies.
John Davies.
10 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

To me it represents ignorance, arrogance, subjugation, theft, lies, deceit, murder, racism, imperialism and fascism. “

Are we to understand you do not like it very much, then?

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
10 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

Your comment says everything I would say and, if it were possible, have multiple likes from me!

Annibendod
Annibendod
10 days ago

B.R.I.T.I.S.H. N.A.T.I.O.N.A.L.I.S.M.

Staring us all in the face doncha see? Only serves to further Toraidh imperialism. Ideologically idiotic and braindead position to take. Leads to awful politics. Ultimately, the fight we Cymry must win, is to see British PLURALISM acknowledged and accepted as a natural state of British politics and culture. Ours is the truth and the moral high ground. But we must learn how to communicate and fight for this in the context of Democratic Statehood for all the Nations of Britain. Any and all political cooperation within our isles should reflect the FACT of our plural nature.

Riki
Riki
10 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

No! British already existed prior to Englands founding, it the English Form of the Latin name Britons! Which was a term solely for the people of Cambria, Wales, Galles, Tara Galilor, Cymru! These people were called Welsh on purpose so that the English could then adopt the term and all the history that goes along with it. So anything mentioned about these people in ancient times can now be passed off as English as opposed to Welsh (Like How Arthur is taught to be English, which makes no sense at all). And we play along by saying “Welsh, Not British”,… Read more »

Rob
Rob
10 days ago

Unionist hypocrisy

British Nationalism – Good
Welsh Nationalism – Bad

Wales has no representation on the Union flag, so why should we accept it as our flag? Can you imagine the reaction if it didn’t have any Scottish or English representation, would they accept it?

Glwyo
Glwyo
10 days ago
Reply to  Rob

The table goes

European unionism – bad
UK independence – good
British unionism – good
Annibyniaeth Cymreig – bad

Riki
Riki
10 days ago
Reply to  Rob

English nationalism! How can it be British when we are thee British?! And anyone who says opposite are ignorant of our history. We are fighting the wrong argument, just like Taiwan are, what do I mean? Taiwan is a part of China, what the real argument is how the Taiwanese Government are the legitimate government of all China as they pushed their by the CCP after WW2. But they’d rather abandon all their History instead of trying to oust the CCP.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
10 days ago

The UK union flag IS NOT our flag.

Our flag is GREEN, WHITE with a RED DRAGON.

WE ARE CYMRU.

The Conservatives and Labour are therefore not our Party.
We never make policy for them, they don’t accept us as an equal nation.
They either ignore us or use us and keep us poor and inline.

Enough said, Vote for the Party of Wales.
Let’s build a new Wales: CYMRU.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
10 days ago

Our beautiful flag has green, white, red and black — it gives definition to the dragon’s features. (I know I’m being pedantic with this.)

Riki
Riki
10 days ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

You’re right, it looks infinitely better when black is used for the defining features, makes it POP! Even more.

Nia James
Nia James
10 days ago

As a British Nationalist party, in many ways it makes sense for Labour to display its Unionism, as after all they must seek the votes of many who would label themselves British and/or Unionist. Not sure how well waving the Butchers Apron will play in certain parts of our nation, and it is undoubtedly a gamble in Scotland where many associate it with support for Rangers. However, given his big poll leads, Starmer is confident that issues like this will not derail him.

Riki
Riki
10 days ago
Reply to  Nia James

They are not British! They are English, as the union flag doesn’t rep thee British people, so how can it be British!? The British flag has a Dragon on it.

Riki
Riki
10 days ago

How can you be patriotic over that rag?! It stands in complete opposition to the interests of three out of the four nations of the UK. Unfortunately two out of those three are still suffering heavily with Stockholm syndrome. This is why they love us so much, as it doesn’t matter how bad we are treated, we still come to the conclusion that it’s for our own good. I’m also glad to see so many calling it the Union flag over “British”, as in a cultural and historical context, it has no connection to “Britishness”.

Last edited 10 days ago by Riki
Richard
Richard
10 days ago

KS 🇬🇧 is right to use his 🇬🇧 flag for his political party and should be lauded 👋🏽 for being so open 🇬🇧.

Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 and Cornwall plus of course those in the north of Ireland will clearly understand his priority and where his focus is and if they care for their own folk to be prioritised they will no doubt ✖️🗳️Vote for a Party that will look after their interests.

Andy Lloyd
Andy Lloyd
10 days ago

Let’s hope this item is first up on the BBC news tonight. What an utter disgrace- the Labour party showing its true colours-ashamed of everything British.

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