Almost a third of English people are too embarrassed to fly their national flag – the cross of St George – due to its associations with lower class culture and the far right.
The Daily Mail reports that social anthropologist Kate Fox says that around a third would not display the flag due to its association with football and hooliganism, while a quarter are concerned about its use by the far right.
Miss Fox, who is co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), told the Cheltenham Literature Festival that most English people are ‘closet patriots’ who, although they feel proud of their country, do not like expressing it in front of their peers.
She said: “30 per cent don’t fly the flag because for them, it’s associated with football and the phrase they used is – I don’t like the word, but they said it’s a bit chavvy to fly the flag. So it’s got lower class associations.”
‘Chavvy’ refers to a white English lower-class culture that is often associated with criminality and gangsterism.
“It’s almost more of a class problem that the flag has now rather than a political problem,” she adds
Despite their reluctance to express patriotic sentiments, 83 percent of English people still feel pride in their country, with only three percent saying they are never proud of it.
Miss Fox said: “There’s this notion that the English lack all patriotic feeling. We take a bit of pride in our lack of national pride. It’s bizarre.”
Another factor, she said, was the fact that far-right extremist groups have been widely using the flag for the past few years. “There are about 25 per cent of people for whom the association with the far right and racism puts them off flying the national flag,” she said.
“Although actually 60 per cent of people would like us to embrace St George’s Day, and fly the flag, 25 per cent of people do not do it because of those associations.
“But if you think about it, the flag was only available for appropriation by extremists because the rest of the population already shunned it.
“That’s how they were able to steal it – to highjack it.”