A polling station in England has been forced to remove the St. George’s flag, after a man on social media claimed it was a “dog whistle for the leave campaign” and made the room look “like an EDL rally”.
The polling station, in the Mayfield Athletic Club, London, had left up patriotic a display after a Euro 2016 match. However, after word spread on social media, the Electoral Commission instructed them to remove the national flag.
An Electoral Commission handbook states that: “any badges, slogans, or colours that might bring the impartiality of the polling station staff into question must not be worn”.
However, others have argued that finding the English flag in England, after the Queen’s birthday and during an international football tournament, should hardly be surprising or shocking.
Christopher Lewis, the man who sparked the debate by reported the “EDL” flag on Twitter, told the Independent:
“There were flags everywhere. I asked one of the officers why there were flags and the TV on and he just looked up at my girlfriend and I and gave a sly smile and said: ‘Oh, I didn’t notice that.’
“At that point I thought they had either deliberately not taken them down or put them up so I felt obligated to take a photo,” he said.
Adding: “Can you imagine the outrage if they were EU flags?” he asked. “It might affect people who are undecided – it’s a dog whistle for the Leave campaign.”
A statement from Enfield Council explained: “St George’s flags were hanging in the private sports club as part of the club’s celebration of Euro 2016.
“They were removed promptly this morning by Enfield Council staff.”
A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission confirmed they had contacted the polling station after receiving complaints from voters.
She said: “These are public buildings so a lot of them have been celebrating events like the Queen’s birthday and the Euro 2016.
“We advised the polling station that if they are getting complaints from voters they should take them down.”