UKIP’s culture spokesman has said schools should return to the practice of flying the Union Flag to help the next generation forge a common identity, and that the diversity of languages spoken in schools is damaging social cohesion.
Flying the flag, singing the national anthem, and having portraits of the monarch in British schools was commonplace until relatively recently. Speaking to The Guardian, New Culture Forum founder and UKIP spokesman Peter White said some practices, such as making the national flag a recognisable and frequently seen symbol of unity and pride, which had been abandoned in the 20th century was harmful to society.
Of the possibility of “reasserting” Britishness in the lives of young people, White remarked that what Britain had lost the United States had kept – an appreciation for the nation within the state school system, which created a youth “united under an overarching sense of being American”.
White said: “I think Cameron once said we don’t do flags. I think that’s a romantic idea, but I think it’s out of date. The position has changed and the problems we face are different now”.
“For example, I would like to encourage schools to display the union jack. The time has come when we have got to draw together and reassert who we are. I don’t know about the anthem necessarily, but I would certainly like to see the union jack in schools. That’s not Ukip policy, that’s just what I would like to see.
“It is something that in America does make a difference. The old idea that the British don’t proclaim all of this stuff was born of another time, rather a patriarchal one you could say actually … I think the Tory romantic idea [about not flying flags] is that this is all a bit vulgar and beneath the salt”.
The UKIP spokesman also levelled his sights at multiculturalism in schools, and the walls it creates between students. He said: “Only very recently, it was put forward that there are so many different languages in our schools and isn’t it a wonderful thing? Well, I see that as: how can you say that is wonderful? I see that as a barrier to social progress and a barrier to social cohesion.
“There has been an emphasis too much on keeping people in separate boxes and keeping them apart”.
Learning to appreciate the positive contributions the British people made to the world, and the extent and character of the Empire was a key part of growing up and school life for many thousands of young people. The annual celebration of Empire day, which involved pageantry and dressing up for school children survived well into the post-war era, when it was changed into Commonwealth day and later forgotten all together.