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UK Government’s order to fly union flag ‘an attempt to have culture wars’ says Health Minister

26 Mar 2021 4 minutes Read
Vaughan Gething on Question Time

Wales’ Health Minister has said that the UK Government’s decree that the union flag should be flown above all of their buildings was “an attempt to have culture wars”.

Speaking on BBC Question Time, Vaughan Gething said that it was an attempt to create a row on an issue that would have no real impact on anyone’s life.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price responded that it was an attempt to quash the Welsh independence movement, but would backfire as the union flag was representative of Wales’ invisibility within the union.

The panelllists, which also included Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies, former Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox and retired rugby union referee Nigel Owens were asked whether there was any danger that forcing people to fly to flag could be met with “resistance”.

“There’s a danger you get too upset about this when we already have the Welsh flag and the union jack flying over the Welsh Government building,” Vaughan Gething said.

“I’m proud to be Welsh and British and I’m proud of my Zambian heritage as well. I think for politicians it’s not so much about having a row about flags but about the future of the country.

“You know if we fly the flag over all local council buildings or not, we’ll have a row about it but will it change anybody’s life? I don’t think it will.”

Asked about First Minister Mark Drakeford’s comments in which he said the union “was over,” Vaughan Gething said that those comments “weren’t about the flag – they’re about how the UK works”.

“Recognising that power is held in different parts of the UK. And just having the UK Government making all the choices when people don’t agree with each other isn’t the right way forward.

“It’s about remaking the Union. It’s a voluntary association of the four nations. I think we’re all better off in the Union together, but we need a way for the Union to work in the future, otherwise the danger is that we’ll end up dividing the UK and we’ll see it fall apart.

“That obviously isn’t what I want to see. But in Wales we need to be able to make our own decisions on a whole range of areas that are already here in the Welsh Parliament, that people are going to vote on at the start of May.”

‘Refused’

Adam Price said that flying the flag represented how Wales was treated within the UK.

“This has obviously been designed really as a response to the growing support for Scottish and Welsh independence. It might have the opposite effect in Wales, because there is no more potent symbol of Wales’ invisibility within this Union than the Union Jack,” Adam Price said.

“Because we’re the only home nation that isn’t represented on it. And therein lies a deep truth about how we are treated as a nation within this unequal United Kingdom.

“Therein lies the experience of Wales. We saw it with the furlough, didn’t we – the firebreak. The Welsh Government asked for the furlough to be extended.

“We were refused, endangering our lives. When the situation changed in England, hey presto, they extended the furlough. And the people of Wales noticed that.

“This is how Wales has been treated in this United Kingdom and it’s there to see on the flag itself.”

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said it should be mandated that both flags fly in Wales “because we are a proud country on our own – and also part of the United Kingdom”.

“I’m proud to call myself an Unionist, but I’m equally proud to be a Welshman as well – a passionate Welshman, who puts 19 and a half stone on the veteran’s rugby field now and again,” he said.

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