Keir gets in a Saint George's Day mix-up


Philosophy Football's Mark Perryman worries Keir Starmer doesn't know his England from his Britain

Keir Starmer has taken it upon himself to celebrate Saint George's Day by urging all Labour General Election candidates 'with enthusiasm.' Perhaps if Keir feels the need to 'urge' the enthusiasm of celebrating he's missing the point of celebrating Saint George. 

I don't need any such instruction thank you very much. Every England home game I'm with a bunch of friends at Wembley on the morning of matchday laying out thousands of cards to form a huge fans' Saint George Cross flag. And every Euro or World Cup summer I'll be bedecked in a Saint George Cross somewhere about by person. And no, I don't need reminding 23rd April is Saint George's Day either. 

Keir has backed up all this instructing by 
writing ahead of Saint George's Day for the Sunday Telegraph on his theme ' I have no time for those who flinch at our flag.' Well it might help if Keir could get the flag right. Throughout the piece he lists off a nation's achievements to celebrate: the home front sacrifice of 1939-45, working-class students able to go to university, creating the NHS. Magnificent  achievements to be proud of as a nation, Britain, not England alone. It is the classic yet crucial slippage, England used to represent not itself but three other nations, Scotland, Wales and the North of Ireland too.

A pedant, me? 

Well first off get yourself to Scotland and ask any passing Scot what they feel about England being used to represent them. Good luck with that. 

And on the way back south of the border ask yourself how it feels to be in an England that is denied all manner of identifications that Scotland enjoys.

Keir's Labour party membership cards in Scotland carry the Saltire, in Wales the Welsh flag. Labour membership cards in England? The Union Jack. No wonder Keir is confused.

In Scotland and Wales Labour has its own Scottish and Welsh Labour parties, their own conference, their own leadership. In England, no such English Labour Party. And no sign in his article Keir is in favour of one.  

Unlike Scotland and Wales England doesn't have a National Anthem to call our own, instead God Save the King, anthem of the United Kingdom.  I know Keir is in favour of 'fiscal discipline' but here's a change that doesn't cost a penny.


Jeremy Corbyn added some substance to his very similar calls for what some Labour types label 'progressive patriotism.' Saint Andrew's, David's,  George's and Patrick's days public holidays for the Scots, Welsh, English and Northern Irish. With a General Election in the offing what a trick to be missed, who's ever going to vote against an extra day off work?!  

And since 1999 Scotland and Wales have a parliament, an assembly to call their own. Nothing of the sort for England, we should have, and anywhere but London too. 

Most people are deeply cynical of politicians. A performative politics of this sort, adopting a position for the instant-gratification of changing the image of a party, or leader, but with no practical outcomes to effect change. All good reasons for such cynicism. A politics riddled with contradictions, that actually reproduces the problem at hand but with sufficient spin to fleetingly impress regardless. What good is that?  


Keir, by the time of the next Saint George's Day not much doubt you'll be Prime Minster. No longer simply writing articles but in office, to make change. So when you fly Saint George on the 23rd April outside Number Ten just don't forget there's a nation it belongs to. 


Mark Perryman's book Breaking up Britain: Four Nations after a Union is  available from here

St George's Day Special Offer 20% off all Philosophy Football Saint Georges Day T-shirts quote coupon StGeorgePFN  here