Flags are suddenly all the rage in British politics, with scarcely a day going by it seems without a fresh row over the Union Jack. First a leaked Labour report last month on how to win back voters was splashed on the front page of the Guardian along with its recommendations that Labour make ‘use of the flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly’ — an uncontroversial observation that triggered days of handwringing from the usual suspects.
Then there was the continued comment about ministers on Zoom with an ever-growing number of flags in the background. And just yesterday BBC stars found themselves in hot water for sniggering at Robert Jenrick’s Union Jack in the background of his office and his portrait of the Queen on the wall.
Unsurprisingly, polling shows that 75 per cent of people feel ‘good’ about the Union Jack flying although more progressive segments report feeling more negative towards it. Fortunately, Mr S has now discovered that the cost of such conspicuous patriotism is well within most people’s price range.
A Freedom of Information request from the free trade loving Liz Truss’s Department for International Trade shows that since the beginning of lockdown 12 months ago, a total of six Union Jacks and 24 flagpoles have been purchased by the Ministerial Strategy Directorate. Flags are purchased separately from flagpoles and flagpoles can host different flags depending on the event or purpose for which it is used — excellent for those much-vaunted bilateral meetings.