The Daily Mail this morning reports:
Schools in Bolton are being urged to fly the Union Flag and sing the National Anthem.
Schools in the area will also be asked to fly the St George’s cross on April 23, St George’s Day, and the Commonwealth flag in March.
Mudasir Dean said he wanted to seize the Union Flag back from the Far Right and show children it was a symbol people from all backgrounds could celebrate.
‘My grandfather came to Bolton in the 1920s from India,’ he said. ‘He lived here all his life and he was the first Asian to settle in Bolton.
‘Growing up in Bolton, I’ve seen less and less of the Union Flag. It’s been hijacked by the Far Right and it’s time we take that symbol back into mainstream British, Bolton life.’
Councillor Dean said complaints that new immigrants couldn’t settle in Britain was sometimes ‘our own fault’. ‘If we were more patriotic – if we sang our national anthem and flew our flag – and instilled it in our younger generations, they would do,’ he added.
Cllr Dean is a Conservative councillor. Not everyone agreed with him. A Labour councillor Cllr Chris Peacock objected on grounds of cost. “Who will pay for these new flag poles and flags?” he asked. “Schools’ budgets are already stretched. Raising the Union flag won’t raise standards – that should be our priority.” Hmmm. So if a school was offered a donation to fund it would Cllr Peacock be happy?
Is the objection really about cost? Come off it, Cllr Peacock.
Is Cllr Peacock quite sure that instilling a sense of shared pride in this way would do nothing to increase motivation and thus standards? Of course singing the National Anthem would cost nothing. But then as George Orwell remarked some on the Left “would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God save the King than of stealing from a poor box.”
What is encouraging is that Cllr Peacock was not even able to convince his Labour colleagues with his dreary bogus objections. Bolton is a Labour-run council but 34 councillors voted in favour of Cllr Dean’s motion, four against and 11 abstentions.
I hope that schools in Bolton will respond positively to the proposal. I also hope that councillors elsewhere will follow Cllr Dean’s lead. More to the point, since the decision is for individual schools, I hope that school governors will put it on the agenda.
For Conservative councillors who are languishing in opposition Cllr Dean’s offers anther example. It shows it is possible to have an impact.