Why is Labour wrapping itself up in the Union flag?

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I did another Twitter poll yesterday, because the Guardian highlighted concerns that members of the Labour Party have expressed about campaign materials produced by its headquarters for local party use. These feature prominent images of the Union flag whilst removing from view traditional Labour graphics, such as its red rose logo.

There have been reports that these materials are unpopular with its members, some of whom are refusing to deliver materials emblazoned in this way.

My poll was as follows:

I have to make clear, I am not suggesting that this result is statistically valid. There are obvious selection biases in running a Twitter poll that guarantee that this is not the case. However, given that my Twitter following is likely to be biased towards Labour supporters, and I am excluding from my analysis those who say they are not, I am not sure that I need to get overly worried about that risk of bias: this data is likely to reflect the opinion of at least some parts of Labour's membership or support.

Taking out of consideration those who say they are not interested in Labour, and those who say that they do not have an opinion, and therefore taking into account only those who are directly concerned about Labour Party campaigning, it is very apparent that most of those voting really do not wish to see Labour wrapping up its campaign inside the Union flag. Eighteen per cent think Labour is right to feature the flag. Eighty two per cent do not. That difference of view, which remained very stable after a couple of hundred votes were cast, appears significant to me.

I can also wholeheartedly understand that opinion. That is , no doubt, in part because I am not a unionist. I accept that fact creates bias.

There are, however, broader reasons. Most of us a certain age are all too familiar with the history of the use of this flag as a campaigning tool by the far right. The memory of that is still too strong to want to see it used again.

In addition, many people think of this flag as a symbol of colonial oppression, for very good reason. That association is deeply uncomfortable for them. I also count myself in that number.

Others, not unreasonably, think that this use of the flag represents Labour moving into Tory party space, for absolutely no good reason. I do.

I think all those holding any (or all) of these opinions will feel alienated by Labour doing something that is so deeply insensitive to those who might naturally support it. They will rightly wonder why it wants to cause such offence.

I have not sought to hide my concerns about Labour over the last couple of years. That concern has arisen for many reasons. Its willingness to go down the same jingoistic path that the Tories have trodden is yet another concern to add to my list because it seems to me to lead to another of those characteristics of fascism that are becoming all too well known.

Perhaps, though, most of all I am, baffled as to why Labour is doing this. When someone as dispassionate as Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University thinks that there is a 99% probability that they will now win the next general election why does the Labour leadership still doubt that, as they must do by going down this route? Do they somehow think that they still have to win the far-right vote from the Tories and Reform, when the rump that support those parties are never going to be persuaded? And do they really think that their own supporters will put up with any sort of abuse so that those people might be recruited, whatever the cost?

Or is it, worst of all, that this Labour leadership really does wish hark back to an era when this flag did, without doubt, represent attitudes of colonial superiority? Do they, in other words, actually share the sentiments of those on the far-right of British politics, based on division as they so obviously are?

I am not sure of Labour's motives, but whatever they might be they appear to be a profound betrayal of all that is ethical, just and inclusive and that is profoundly unattractive in a party set to rule this country.

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