We don’t celebrate England, and being English, enough. The Scottish aren’t embarrassed about their nation, or their flag. Far from it. You can’t move in Edinburgh or Glasgow without seeing a blue and white saltire flapping in the wind. But the English ruling classes seem to be embarrassed about Englishness. Labour’s Emily Thornberry spoke for many in the left wing Islington elite when she turned up her nose at the patriotism of a white van driver in Rochester whose house was festooned in St George’s flags.
We now have a chance to shake off this embarrassment. Everyone in England - of every race and religion and background - can be proud of the success of Harry Kane and his teammates in the group games of the World Cup. England manager Gareth Southgate has talked of his hope that, with its diversity and its youth, the team can represent modern England in a way that people can connect with. We should now come together as a country and show that we are rooting for them in the play-offs.
This week I launched a petition calling for public buildings to fly the St George’s flag next week and for as long as the England team remains a contender in Russia. If you want to support my campaign, please sign here: https://chn.ge/2MXCph4 In every city and town let’s see the red and white colours of England flying from court houses, police stations, town halls and even churches. And if, by some miracle, football finally does come home and we win the World Cup, let’s make St George’s Day a bank holiday in England. After all, St Andrew’s Day already is a bank holiday in Scotland.
Like most readers of the Journal I am intensely proud of being English. As someone once said “to be born English is to win the lottery of life.” Let’s unite behind our boys in Russia and “cry ‘God for Harry, England and St George’.”